Bionic model Rebekah Marine talks self-acceptance and inclusive beauty

“Best known as the Bionic Model, Rebekah Marine wears one of the most advanced prosthetic hands on the market and breaks down barriers in the mainstream fashion industry”: that’s what her shortest bio says, but Rebekah Marine is much (much!) more than only this. Body positive model and inclusive beauty ambassador, wife and mother, entrepreneur: Rebekah, who has just launched a new entrepreneurial project called Shop One-Handed Mama, is today’s guest on the Lover’s Journal to talk about normalising normal bodies, lingerie and self-acceptance.

How did your career in modelling begin? Were you driven by a passion for fashion or the desire to inspire?

I’ve always had a passion for modeling, even when I was a little girl. After years of rejection, I ultimately gave up on the idea of it. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I decided to give it another shot. After receiving my first myoelectric prosthesis (or bionic arm), I did my first photo shoot and started to build my portfolio. Since then, I’ve walked in NYFW, modeled for Tommy Hilfiger, Nordstrom and more. I was driven by my passion to see more inclusiveness in the fashion industry. I wanted to give hope to others who may feel insecure about their differences or disabilities.

From being a model to entrepreneur: you’ve just founded Shop One-Handed Mama. How did the project start?

After becoming a mom to the most amazing little boy, I realized my new role in life as a full-time mom would provide some challenges with attending last minute casting calls, traveling, etc. As someone with a graphic design background and a degree in Advertising, I knew I could use those skills along with my passion for inclusiveness to create a brand that inspires people. With that, the One-Handed Mama shop was born.

The NOD Collection states “Normalize our differences”, that is also one of the core pillars of Chitè. What’s your tip for women who are still working hard to embrace self-love and self-acceptance?

The toughest love you’ll ever know is the love you have for yourself. I spent years feeling so insecure about my body, and it took quite some time to develop the love I have now for myself. For me, overcoming those insecurities meant facing them head-on, which in my case, it was talking to people about it. Knowing and truly understanding the callous feelings I had for myself gave me the strength I needed to conquer them. The more open I was about how I felt about my limb difference, the more I realized I wasn’t so alone. This became the start of how I learned to embrace my differences and grow into the person I am today.

There are people in the fashion industry who believe that some brands are exploiting body inclusivity and diversity to create a buzz around their own name. Do you agree?

I totally agree with this. Over the years, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of brands expanding into using more diverse models in their campaigns. I often feel their motives aren’t genuine enough. On the other side, it’s great to see people of all races, disabilities and sizes finally getting the exposure we certainly deserve in this industry. It’s important for people to see themselves in their favorite brands. To me, it’s a two-way street. While the idea of diversity may seem like a novelty and a prospect to get some social media buzz, we (the models) are still getting an opportunity to use their platforms for a bigger movement.

Photocourtesy of Stevie Chris

As a lingerie brand, may we ask you what’s your relationship with underwear?

I had a terrible relationship with underwear when I felt most insecure with my body. I always felt I had to have the most extreme push-up bra a store had to offer. When I realized having a smaller chest wasn’t a bad thing (ironically, thanks to the modeling industry), I fell in love with the bralette. Now when I shop for underwear, I can feel confident in what I’m wearing.

How do you imagine the perfect bra for you?

The perfect bra, especially as a full-time mom of a toddler, has to be comfortable. I don’t wear too many push-up bras these days, but rather no-wire bras with a soft waistband. In my opinion, bralettes are the perfect bra for all-day comfort.

Photocourtesy of Chris Loupos

As a mother of a beautiful kid, how did pregnancy change your perception of your own body?

Did you embrace stretchmarks and other changes in shape? You can never fully prepare yourself for your first pregnancy. Your body goes through more changes than you can ever imagine. While I didn’t end up with many stretch marks (which I think are a beautiful reminder of pregnancy), I did have some physical challenges along the way. From shaving both legs to putting on socks, I found myself learning new ways on how to adjust with one hand. Throughout my pregnancy, I came to appreciate so much more about my body and the wonderful things it can do.

What kind of changes do you expect from the lingerie industry in 10 years’ time?

Women are more in control of their sexiness than ever before. Not long ago, there was a time where men dictated what is sexy (small waist, big breasts, long hair, etc). Not to say those qualities aren’t beautiful, but it truly undermined the value of diversity. I expect over the next 10 years, we’ll see a change on everything we’ve known about what is sexy. Diversity is sexy, and lingerie brands who know this and embrace this will rise above the rest.

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