‘It took me a long time to find myself beautiful and be happy with who I am’
In light of Dove’s new #ShowUs campaign, we had the chance to talk to DJ Tara Stewart who is one of three new Irish Dove ambassadors…
In the world of social media, Love Island and everything in between there is a pressure on girls to look a certain way. Over the years, diversity and inclusivity were words rarely spoken in the realm of advertising or media, but now there are companies and campaigns who are trying to change the conversation.
And rightly so, us women are all unique, different and beautiful. Our differences should be celebrated and not ignored, but when the mass media is pushing one ideal to you, it’s difficult to turn a blind eye.
Dove is one such company who is challenging the status quo with their new #ShowUs campaign. Dove, along with GirlGaze and Getty Images, has created the world’s largest photo library created by women and non-binary individuals to shatter the traditional beauty stereotype.
Related: Why Dove’s new #ShowUs campaign is groundbreaking for women in media
The library contains over 5,000 images of women from over 37 countries. The pictures are sans any digital distortion or airbrushing, giving the power back to women and allowing them to define who they are on their terms.
To conincide with the launch of the campaign, three Irish Dove ambassadors have been chosen to represent its message. One of these wonderful ladies is 2FM DJ Tara Stewart. Tara is the definition of fierce. Confident, sexy and true to herself, she’s a firehouse and is at the forefront of the new wave of women in media who aren’t staying silent. They are loud and proud, and want to diversify the landscape.
I had the chance to sit down her recently to chat body image, social media and Missy Elliot. And now I think I may have a serious girl crush.
Tell me a little bit about the Dove campaign and why you got involved?
The Dove campaign is about showcasing diversity in women to get rid of those beauty stereotypes. And showing us that women don’t all look the same! The reason I got involved is because I am so passionate about diversity in ethnicities, body size, shape etc and to have such a huge brand like Dove want to help move society forward is deadly.
How important is it to have a campaign such as this in the mainstream?
It is so incredibly important. We should have more of this and it should be normal for us to have diversity in mainstream media. I definitely think things are moving in the right direction but we are not there just yet.
Was body image something you struggled with growing up?
Yeah definitely, I really struggled with my body throughout growing up in my teens and now in my 20s. It took me a really long time to find myself beautiful and happy with who I am. I got to that stage when I stopped comparing myself to other people.
Seeing a curvy plus size model growing up was unheard of when I was growing up. But it is so amazing seeing more of it in today’s media.
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When you were a teenager was there anyone in the public eye/media who you could look at and say I can relate to them?
Missy Elliott was the person I really related to and looked up to. She was this badass curvy rapper and producer that wore mad clothing and had huge long nails and didn’t give an f what anyone thought about her.
She owned her curves and became one of the most legendary iconic artists from the 1990s. The idea of someone not looking like a what was standard beauty back then in Hip Hop especially is just mind-blowing to me. She made amazing music and didn’t care what anyone thought about her. Can you tell I love her much?
Do you think the fashion industry has got better at being more inclusive and diverse?
Yes and no, some brands are more diverse and some aren’t. I would love to see more plus size women on the catwalk. I don’t want to be able to only name 1 woman that is on the catwalk with curves. Which is how I feel now. I do love that a lot of brands stock more ranges of sizes now, however, I would love to see more.
What can it do to improve?
Book gorgeous curvy plus size women
How do you deal with social media pressures?
Social media for me is fun, it is not work and I’ve never let it be work. It’s my creative space where I get to be myself, show off things I like, share clothes I’m wearing so I don’t get caught up in followers and likes. I mute people that have a negative impact on me and make me feel bad. And I don’t follow people that I might compare myself to. I only follow people that inspire me.
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We all get days where we don’t feel our best. When this happens, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
To be honest I’m still figuring this out. I just got my period today (TMI) but for the last week, I’ve been on the verge of tears…for absolutely no reason. I get really down on myself during my time of the month and I try to talk about it to my mates, my fella makes me feel a lot better. He makes me laugh so I guess I recommend getting someone to make you laugh haha! But no for real, mind yourself. It’s tough. But I don’t have the answer just yet. In general though…I am a really positive person and I love life.
What advice would you give 16-year old Tara?
Eat and wear what the f**k you want! You only live once!
What advice would you give to any young girls out there who are struggling with their identity and body image?
Don’t compare yourself to your mates or women on the telly or magazines. All of us have completely different bodies and faces, that’s what makes us so interesting. Find your groove, find your style and what clothes you like that make you feel good and big yourself up. Life is too short to be worrying about what people think about you.
Read more: Meet the Irish director of this new documentary on body image
Read more: Five interesting thoughts about unconventional beauty
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