This past week the topic of modesty seems to be on everyone’s mind. With the recent petition from a 15 year-old girl pleading with retailers to offer more modest AND fashionable clothing options, to actress Mayim Bialik’s powerful article in GrokNation on her views of modesty – this topic is certainly compelling, evoking the interest and emotions of many. Over the summer, the topic of women, their bodies, modest swimwear and feminism all came to the fore on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Featuring HydroChic as well as other modest swimwear brands, reporter Lucette Lagnado piqued the interest of many WSJ readers with a discussion of modest swimwear as an industry and why it appeals to a variety of individuals, from women with religious constraints to both missy and plus-size women who just want to feel more comfortable in the pool. It was an honor to be featured in the article, but the piece also made us think long and hard about the greater meaning of modest swimwear and its impact on society today.
While the article received a lot of positive feedback, the featured pictures of women in modest bathing suits sparked much fiery discussion in the comments section, prompting some to argue that these bathing suits are anti-feminine and misogynist. After all, Hollywood and mainstream media scream the popular phrase, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” and assert that people who are proud of their bodies should show it off to the world unabashedly. We fully support various expressions of femininity, which is why such a torrent of this type of feedback was so surprising. For HydroChic, modest swimwear is not a push to return to medieval-inspired attire. Rather, modest swimwear is about the power of choice, a tenet that all feminists believe in at its core.
Some WSJ readers saw past the political rhetoric and understood how modest swimwear offers a positive message of female choice to modern world. While she would not wear this type of swimwear herself, commenter Laura Little wrote:
“Choice is great. There are plenty of reasons to cover up more on the beach – modesty, comfort, skin protection, sports, what have you. That’s a woman’s personal business – not yours…, I am happy to see they are made for women, by women.”
And that assertion of choice is just the point of Hydrochic. When bathing suit styles such as the bikini and tankini were first growing in popularity, these styles gave women the otherwise unknown freedom to uncover and walk around as she pleased. While we also believe that a woman should feel empowered to wear the bikini or tankini if she wants, limiting women’s choices to bikinis and tankinis is not enough for many women, whether they are plus-size or just prefer to cover up, and leaves them without a viable swim solution. We need to assert in today’s world that being feminist is far more than women needing to bare all at the beach or pool. We need to assert that feminism has evolved past seeing women covered or uncovered, and grown into a movement that empowers women to be confident and comfortable, no matter how she chooses to do so. We need to assert that all women should be empowered to swim while feeling good about their bodies, including those whose biggest dread was their yearly bathing suit purchase before the emergence of more modest brands such as HydroChic.
Although the fashion industry has gotten much better at including plus-size women by creating special brands that cater to their curvier bodies, these branding efforts seem to miss the point of women’s choice. While some plus-size women welcome the sexier styles and even racier looks to show off their fuller bodies, those who are more reserved in their personal style are no less deserving of swimwear selections of their own. Recently, model Ashley Graham complained she was tired of plus size women being oversexualized in the fashion and modeling world. Graham stressed that by labelling women automatically as sexy because of their curves, the fashion industry limits plus-size women to one category. With such limitations, plus-size woman cannot choose how they want to express themselves through their clothing. While the fashion industry is making strides in providing the curvier woman trendier clothing, there is also a demand for a wider variety of fashion-forward, modest plus size clothing that caters to all different types women. Modest brands such as HydroChic are pushing the envelope of modest fashion, and are part of the movement to create more options for women of all shapes and sizes for years to come.
Whether you opt for a chic modest bathing suit or a string bikini, HydroChic is a strong advocate of women’s choice. To us, diverse clothing options for women is the future of feminism in our society. The Wall Street Journal article served as a great addition to this discussion, and we hope it will only inspire more opportunities to reflect on how the growing popularity of modest clothing can convey a much stronger message of female empowerment, and impact the future of the fashion industry. We feel strongly that the advent of alternative options in fashion is a truly empowering experience for us as a company and for feminism at large.