two girls wearing temporary tattoos on their faces
woman wearing temporary tattoos on her face

It is such a bizarre thing. When we see our friends or other women around us we see how beautiful they are, we admire them for all the wonderful things they are but when it comes to loving ourselves it is a long and rocky road. The concept might seem straight forward but in reality being a woman reflect a long history of oppression. Even if we think it does not influence us today it is what our society is built upon and consciously or unconsciously we still follow these notions. Recently at What’s Your Legacy we have been rethinking more and more about what kind of imagery we put out on our platform. We have always tried to look for diversity but the industry is built upon not having one. It is not because the conventional body type represented is wrong in any way it is because it is not the only body type out there.

It is no wonder we constantly want to look like someone else because for most of us we haven’t seen someone like ourselves represented in any imagery that surrounds us daily and is considered conventionally beautiful.

The other day I asked a rhetorical question – what if I could wake up one morning and be this completely different person and I was instantly corrected and asked but what if I would wake up and be truly myself? Interesting concept, right? Even if you are a very strong, independent human being sometimes these crazy thoughts sneak up and that is OK. Even my best friend, who is the most gorgeous girl, thinks she has chubby cheeks. We all are a little bit delusional like that.

woman wearing red shirt and red lipstick
fashion editorial portrait of woman with temporary tattoos on her face

This is where we met Maike Lüdenbach the founder of LÖV The Label which felt like something more than just a fashion brand. As our conversation soon enough got personal and turned from talking clothes to talking life, LÖV felt like a desire to explore this self doubt that we have about ourselves and hopefully become a movement that will bring us closer to accepting that there is no one perfect body. We are all so very different in the way we look and all so the same in the way we sometimes do not know how to accept ourselves. LÖV seemed like a manifestation that you can take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one.

The designer told that before starting the label, since the very early age of fourteen, she had been a model and this experience was psychologically very harsh.

Having worked as a model for many years from a very young age I was subjected to a lot of criticism about my physical look and my body. I went through a lot of health issues and diets, like a lot of things that really, I don’t know, made my growing up more difficult than it was necessary.

She told that this is one of the reasons why having diverse models and un-photoshopped images is especially important to her. She remembered living with fourteen-year-old girls that were saying: “But, no, if I would have like 1mm less on my thigh I would have gotten the job.” Maike explains that the modelling industry is very problematic whilst suggesting to watch the eye-opening talk by casting director James Scully on Business of Fashion.

She assures that the industry truly is like that: “I mean seriously, I got slapped on the ass. It is disgusting and it is horrible, it is incredible how they treat these girls. You really need to not give a fuck and that is not who I am, I care about things so I just don’t have that attitude.”

two girls wearing sustainable fashion brand Löv
girl wearing red long sleeve shirt

LÖV means leaf in Swedish, the designer told that with the label she wanted to go back to the basics and was inspired by the fig leaf which was the first underwear of Adam and Eve. However LÖV also sounds like German pronunciation of English word ‘love’. “I thought it was cute and I thought it was a good way to introduce this concept of loving yourself.” says Maike. Brands first campaign featured beautiful set of images of four girls with Indian, Chinese, African American and Columbian origins. “I was so happy when girls were posing and I was like, this is so beautiful! It was so exciting!” She also says that food at the photo-shoots is a must have for her: “If you are on my shoot you are going to eat!” However, designer asserts that she always look for healthy options.

The shoot will not go well if people don’t have a good energy level, you know, like sugar pikes and then 10 minutes later be like ‘Oh no, the pizza and the cheese in my belly!’ I prefer to invest money in healthy food because it is good for everybody. People are so happy and so thankful for that.

As a part of the brand the designer started LÖV YOURSELF project which is a video series where women talk about their life experiences. “For me the whole idea why I wanted to do LÖV or why I decided to do underwear was a bit because I wanted to do something more than just sell a product, you know, because of these experiences that I had growing up myself I wanted to try to spare other young girls from having to go through that. I really thought that it is very important to do something more. And that is why the whole LÖV YOURSELF concept came about because it is for me the most important thing. To really try and make other girls feel like it is ok and to not make them feel as lonely.” We as women often do not talk about our inner struggles because it is not socially acceptable but all of us go through them. Designer explains that: “Being able to sponsor it through LÖV and getting access and talk to these girls has been such a beautiful experience that I would have never imagined. First of all the community that I have created through that. The personal stories you hear because you get to ask person a question and see how many women, doesn’t matter who, around the world suffer and really we all go through very similar things. The suffering is very universal, of course, we are very lucky on our side of the world, there are a lot of women who are going through much worse but still it is important. I just want to create a place where people can go and not feel so alone and maybe find a tool that they can use to get out of their own bad moments.” 

studio shot of two girls wearing colourful lingerie
girl wearing green long sleeved shirt

Talking to Maike made us consider and question many of our actions and we couldn’t have thought of two more inspiring girls for this photoshoot than our friends Kitty, who alongside many other things is The Body Confidence Revolution Ambassador, and Ruru, who is a photographer and writer discussing the subject of feminism. We thought asking them about their journey of learning to love themselves.

Kitty: “I had always struggled to love myself due to negative self image and confidence issues. I’d always strived to be someone else, be in another body, because I always felt like I wasn’t good enough. But one day, I just thought ‘enough is enough, I can’t be my own worst enemy anymore’. I had been learning more about feminism at university and I started to question everything I had ever thought about body image, and the more I learnt the more I realised that there is no wrong way to have a body.  It was from there that I started the journey to finally loving myself. The media and society may tell us how our bodies should be, but just because it’s dictated to us doesn’t mean it’s true. I make sure to surround myself with body positivity both online and offline; body positivity is vibrant and infectious! Plus, whenever I hear the negative voices creeping back I make sure to correct them and stop them in their tracks. Although it is a daily struggle, I won’t let those negative voices get the better of me ever again. Self awareness, and awareness of the poison we have internalised about our bodies is the first step to self acceptance and self love. From there you can deconstruct the nastiness and finally realise how negative beauty standards are.”

two girls hugging wearing colourful lingerie
girl wearing green long sleeved shirt

Ruru: “I think one of the biggest things for me was moving to England. I’ve met lots of people who are from all over the world here – different races, skin colours, sizes and beauty ideals. The Japanese idea of the ideal beauty is different from others and it made me realise there’s no specific one. Also, I got out of my comfort zone by moving overseas. I had to face many things, such as language barrier, different cultures and I managed it. That gave me a lot of confidence. Meeting positive people and studying feminism helped a lot as well!”

LÖV | lingerie

SUSTAINABILITY | They use organic cotton and organic elastane that is made in Germany using non-toxic dyes and has Ökotext-Certificate, their sliders and locks are nickel-free and made in Italy

ETHICS | made ethically in Austria

MODELS: Kitty and Ruru  | PHOTOGRAPHY: Madara Freimane | MAKE-UP AND CREATIVE DIRECTION: Melanie Christou | ARTICLE: What’s Your Legacy | SUB-EDITOR: Liva Galina

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