You might recognize Trina Nicole from her recent standout Nike campaign, where her dynamic image danced across a Piccadilly Circus billboard. Perhaps you have seen and felt seen. Maybe it sparked joy. Or maybe it challenged you.

“Seeing diversity in sport and fitness is really, really important,” the body inclusiveness champion tells me. “From the feedback I’ve received, it’s clear we need more of it, as people were either offended by the ad or felt it promotes an unhealthy lifestyle – which is ironic, because I dance!”

Its message is as clear as the campaign: increased visibility of diversity in the wellness space is key to changing social attitudes. And this change is vital for the mental and physical health of all those who are underrepresented.

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Take Nicole’s own story. “From an early age I had such low self-esteem because of my body, and it really affected me growing up. I had danced my whole childhood but when puberty came I stopped. all kinds of activities because I was ashamed of my appearance. I wanted to hide in baggy clothes and shrink. Then there were no conversations about body inclusion, or communities that celebrate. Not on a public scale, anyway. “When you grow up in a world where you don’t see others who look like you, it directly affects your confidence.”

In 2018, she decided it was time to pursue her passion and re-enrolled in dance classes, “but I still felt different and uncomfortable because of the way my body was moving. and took up space,” she recalls. If dancing brought him joy and confidence, it was at the same time reductive. “I tried a lot of classes in London, and I got derogatory comments like, ‘Oh, you can dance for a big girl.’ My height has always been taken into account.

This frustration galvanized what would become Nicole’s personal and professional business. She created her own space where she could fully show up to dance freely and started sharing her routines. Of the, The Curve Walkway – the UK’s first movement class specifically for tall people – was born. “I didn’t think of it; it was something for me and my friends, and then it grew through classic word of mouth. My friends were bringing their friends and I started noticing they were rounder and taller. They said they had never been to a dance or gym class with an instructor who looked like them. It was then that she realized that it was not just about dancing, but about visibility. “I was the reason they were at the class. Hearing this need for representation from other people confirmed that I was not alone in how I felt. A year later, Nicole quit her day job in TV production to focus on the business, and before she knew it, mainstream brands wanted to work with her.

Nike

“Nike was naturally aligned with The Curve Catwalk in terms of promoting diversity; their thing is that “if you have a body, you are an athlete”. And my mission has always been to increase the visibility of larger bodies, and specifically larger bodies in motion and in a joyful state, so I’m proud that this diversity and inclusion is being seen, and on such a grand scale. . While Nicole hopes it will encourage others like her “to step out of their comfort zone, seek joy, and feel good about their bodies,” her message is equally important for those who may not necessarily identify with she. “We all wish someone would look at me and see someone dance and have a good time and not focus on my height.

Indeed, it’s important to challenge the idea of ​​what is actually ‘healthy’, she tells me: ‘It’s not as simple as looking at someone’s size – it encompasses the mind, body, everything.” Being told how to behave can be a hindrance, but “feeling good and building your confidence can encourage you to live a healthy life,” she says.

Nicole is optimistic that we are seeing a shift away from traditional food culture in recent times, the outdated marketing of which is now often exposed online as exacerbating fatphobia, as well as encouraging eating disorders. But, I wonder, is it because we personally consume content that demonstrates the fact that health can look different on different people? Are we just in an echo chamber? “Yeah, maybe it’s because of my surroundings; who I am and the people I’m around. Because when I talk to people offline, they’re still talking about January diets and rehabs, so I really think that’s still very much within our culture. And that underscores the importance of being mindful of the content you pick up on social – and traditional – media.”

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She also believes that we need to be more aware of the language used to describe people’s bodies. “I’m more than happy to call myself ‘plus-size’ but, at some point, we have to step away from the label and be neutral to be considered human. Why can’t I just be considered a dancer? Why do I have to be a plus-size dancer? That already makes someone considered “other”.

By labeling something ‘more’, we are emphasizing that the benchmark we should be aiming for is something ‘less’ than that, cementing the often dangerous notion that smaller is better. “I would also like to see a change in this idea of ​​praising people for losing weight,” she adds. “Language reinforces negative emotions for many people.”

And no, trying to be “body positive” isn’t necessarily the answer, she says. “I actually feel ostracized by the body positivity movement. It was first started for marginalized bodies – which I don’t see now because it’s moved away from its origins. If I look at the hashtag ‘ body positivity’, I don’t see women who look like me – the spaces are pretty Eurocentric – and so I don’t necessarily feel like I’m included in that. this notion of always wanting to feel good about yourself, “but sometimes I don’t feel that way and so for me it’s more about practicing body acceptance”.

She points out that, if – in theory – the body positivity movement was fully inclusive, then The Curve Catwalk wouldn’t need to be at all. Still, all change takes time, and what Nicole has already achieved just before her 30th birthday next month would blow your teenage self away, if she were able to see the champion of body inclusivity she has become. “I would tell her it’s all about being authentic, owning who you are and taking up space. Because the things I was ashamed of are the things that helped change today.

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