Oh goodness, where to start?
It has taken me 30 years to finally come around to being grateful for the body that I have. Before I get into that, this is my back story in 1.2 seconds. My family is from China and I was born in PEI. Growing up in PEI during the 90’s as a visible minority was NOT easy. I had to accept at a very young age that I am different. My hair color is different. My skin tone is different. My facial structure is different. My body shape is different. And when you’re a kid, the definition of your worst nightmare is being different.
In North America, I am petite – yes. I am a size zero (I could scream at the person who decided that could ever be a size and be good for your mental health) and barely fit into a 32A bra. However, as a Chinese woman, I am considered large. So to add to the constant battle of being different, I’ve also had to deal with identity struggles my whole life. Who am I as a Chinese woman? Who am I as a Chinese woman living in Canada? Who am I as a Chinese woman growing up on a tiny predominantly white island?
So here it is - I am who I am and no one can take that from me (say that out loud to yourself, it’s really quite empowering). Sometimes I think of my body being able to speak, and I know all it is saying is, what do you want from me?! I beat your heart all day, every day. I walk with your legs to get from point A to point B. I filter out toxins because you keep stuffing me with garbage. What more can I do for you? Our poor, poor bodies.
I started making shoppe juju bralettes as an ode to petite women with small breasts. Often people think that smaller women do not have to deal with body image insecurities. Boy, could they not be further from the truth. I have spent most of my life feeling inadequate and not feminine, because my body does not curve in the places it “should”. In fact, my body does not curve at all, anywhere. I haven’t found a single wired bra that doesn’t have that awkward gap between my breasts and the cup. Don’t even get me started about how I feel when I walk into Victoria Secret. So I took it upon myself to make a bra that was both comfortable and made me feel comfortable with myself, with a dash of sex appeal. Little did I know, all of my petite girlfriends were longing for something that made them feel the same way. Before too long, it was obvious to me that regardless of body shape, EVERY woman just wants to feel this way. So shoppe juju bralettes are now an ode to all women who just want to flip the bird to societal body image expectations.
I’m not going to lie; I still struggle with myself every day. Any time I post a picture on social media of me in a bralette, I get a posting hangover. I still worry that people think I am trying to flaunt my body on the internet, that I’m doing this for attention, or that I give zero fucks. The honest truth is that I give many fucks, too many, in fact, about why we need to be so hard on ourselves. I do it to create awareness that we are all in this together. Women are faced with so many injustices every single day. We were given one body and one body only. Can we not be grateful for that?
So to come full circle, the greatest realization for me has been the beauty lies in the fact that I am different; we are all different. I will say this until I am black and blue in the face, but you are more than enough. She has her body and you have yours. Embrace it, be kind to it, and take good, good care of it.