Meet Emily (@emilyrhiannon55). This body positivity advocate from Etobicoke, Ontario is a preschool teacher and #swimsuitmodel.
Why did you choose this career path?
I have an Honours degree in Child and Youth Studies and a long history of working with children of various ages. I love becoming a part of a child’s life and knowing that I have the potential to help them learn new things, expand their ideas, grow their development and support their overall well-being.
How would you describe yourself?
I believe I am a down to earth, creative and independent person with a passion for pursuing this life of mine. Trying new things and seeking out new adventures exhilarates and empowers me. I am social, polite, and confident in myself.
What are three words your best friend would use to describe you?
Compassionate, confident, and silly.
How do you hope to connect with and inspire your followers?
I want to inspire my followers to live their best lives regardless of what hand has been dealt to them. I want to inspire them by showing them that I am just a normal girl with a normal life, but find ways to live it abundantly and fully. I am relatable with a unique look, and I think people are intrigued by that and enjoy seeing someone who looks a “little different” living their life so vibrantly. Because I think it helps them to believe that they can, too.
We selected you for this campaign because we believe your life is aspirational. What do you feel makes your life aspirational?
I believe I lead an aspirational life because of my ability to dream, create and pursue things that I want, on my own. I am a very independent person and I’m lucky to have a partner in life who respects and encourages that. However this sense of independence is innate to me, as I saw it in my mom my whole life. Raised by a single mom on welfare, I learned that if there’s something you want in life, chase it. Don’t let anyone stop you and it’s okay to pursue things on your own. Two years ago I travelled Europe on my own because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. One year ago I wanted to start a blog and had no one to turn to for help or any idea where to begin, but I launched one anyways. I had a dream- I cultivated it, and I pursued it. I believe my life is aspirational because of my ability to do things regardless of challenges I face. However, I also work a totally normal job, I always put my family first, and I am no stranger to a chill night of Netflix and take-out food on the couch with my boyfriend. But it’s all about balance. And I think that’s also a key component of leading an aspirational life- balancing my independent triumphs with the totally normal times. Sometimes the most mundane things in life can be just as enjoyable as the amazing things. Because it’s ALL part of my aspirational life and I love it all.
Why did you decided to participate in this campaign?
I chose to participate in this campaign because I whole heartedly believe in Swimco’s core values. I want to inspire girls and women alike to believe in themselves- to understand that it’s not about what you look like, but how you FEEL in your body that makes you shine from the inside out. To be a part of this campaign is to be honoured for my life, not my body, and I think that’s worth something. It’s a campaign that breaks barriers and goes against the norm and I am totally here for that!
What does being a #swimsuitmodel mean to you?
Being a #swimsuitmodel means that I’m finally at a place in life where I am truly happy and truly shining. Not because of my size or shape or how I look in a swimsuit. But because of all the other elements of my life that aren’t seen: my friends that make me laugh, my loving boyfriend and my adventures. Those are the things that make me feel good about myself, and in turn I’m lit up enough inside to put on a swimsuit and be a #swimsuitmodel. It’s about feeling good with what you’ve got and knowing none of that will change when you put on a swimsuit and none of that will be taken away from you.
What makes a body beautiful?
A body is beautiful when it’s confident in it’s own skin. A body is beautiful when it has flaws, quirks and uniqueness and doesn’t try to hide it. A body is beautiful because of all the things it’s seen, felt, heard and experienced. It’s an incredible thing to have the same body your whole life, and be able to create all these memories with it. When you gain weight or get a scar or a tattoo or freckles from the sun, those are the memories showing themselves. That’s why it’s beautiful.
Can you describe your self-confidence journey?
My self-confidence journey started in childhood and was always on the brighter side. From a very young age, my mom, aunts and grandmas would always remind me how special and rare my hair and freckles are. My mom called me her “lucky copper penny” because of the colour of my hair, and she told me that my freckles and two large birthmarks (one on my knee, one on my left eye) were all kisses from angels- and honestly, I believed her. I was never insecure about my hair or freckles, but I began to cherish them as I knew they were unique. Even as a child, if you can believe it! In grade two, a boy laughed at my freckles and called them ugly. It hurt for a day, but when I looked at them in the mirror, my eight year old brain still liked them and I moved on from that. In grade six, I was wearing shorts in gym class and a boy said my birthmark on my knee looked gross.When I told my friend what he’d said, she said “let’s name it” and we thought of all “B” names that would sound good beside “birthmark”. I then remembered how cool it was that no one else had one. When I went off to university, I was the ultimate cliché and put on the freshman fifteen. I noticed I had to buy different sizes and my old clothes weren’t fitting the same, but when I went home for school breaks, my mom was always a supportive role model telling me that as long as I am healthy, I will always be beautiful- and again, I believed her. The years went on, and now I am 27 and am the heaviest weight I have ever been. However, I can now run further and faster than I ever have before and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My self-confidence journey is not a typical “rises from the ashes” kind of story. My self-confidence journey emphasizes the idea that women empower women, no matter what their age. My story shows how important it is to be a body positive role model as a woman, to women, and young girls alike, because I had those kinds of role models in my life. I truly believe they helped to instil the self-confidence I’ve had inside for nearly my whole life.
If you could say one thing to someone who may not be confident with their body, what would it be?
Find your passion and you’ll find your shine.