Model | Rachel Joy | IG @racheljoyfit
Words/interview | Dr. Cybil Bonhomme IG @cybil.007
Photographer | Joshua Paull | IG @jpayllphoto
Miami Swim Week has been making efforts to embrace all body types in recent years. In response to the lack of diversity in the fashion industry, many designers have started to feature models of different sizes, shapes, and ethnicities on the runway. Some designers have even created swimwear lines specifically for plus-size women, which has been a welcome development for those who have been traditionally excluded from the fashion industry.
Additionally, some designers have chosen to showcase models with disabilities, which has also been a step towards greater inclusivity in the fashion industry.While there is still much work to be done, it is encouraging to see that Miami Swim Week is making efforts to celebrate diverse bodies and challenge the traditional beauty standards. This is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and accepting society.
Fitness coach, model, entrepreneur, and influencer, Rachel Joy, is no stranger to the Miami Vibes. We featured her back in 2020, sharing the body image challenges she faced growing up with gaining weight and putting on muscle and how she managed to overcome those obstacles. We spent the day with Rachel to get a little insight into what she has been up to and what awaits this year for Miami Swim Week 2023.
Rachel, what are some projects you have had in the works since we last featured you in 2020…the infamous COVID year? Despite it being a terrible year for most, fortunately, I was able to use Covid as a time for both problem solving and growth! I remember saying to myself “Well, I can either binge watch TV shows or I can use this time to start a business.” As an entrepreneur, I am constantly thinking outside the box of how I can create, build, learn, and make money. There is no room for laziness! I started my first business (Rachel Joy Collection) and designed resistance bands as the perfect way to stay in shape while being stuck at home during quarantine. Check them out at RachelJoyOfficial.com Shortly after, I had a phenomenal opportunity to be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness Hers magazine! As the world slowly became normal again (I mean, did Covid even actually exist in Miami? Haha) I resumed my ladies bootcamps and hosting pop up workout events at different hotels/gyms throughout South Florida. Last year I launched Tanning Joy, my spray tanning business in Miami. This year I was honored to shoot my 2nd cover for Train magazine and 3rd cover for Miami Vibes Magazine (being the cover of Miami Vibes is truly a dream come true and I am ecstatic about it!)
Have you faced any challenges or obstacles since then? When it comes to entrepreneurship, many times people just assume it’s easy because social media only highlights your accomplishments, but in reality most people have no idea the level of difficulty involved with running multiple businesses. When I first launched RachelJoyOfficial.com there was a lot of website traffic and sales, but a few months later the hype died down. During this time, I went through anxiety, self doubt, and depression because I never envisioned my businesses turning out this way. I knew there would be challenges, but I had no idea how actively turn things around and boost sales again. I was stuck. I felt an enormous amount of pressure and thought to myself “maybe this business wasn’t a good idea after all … maybe I should just quit”. Then, I realized my attitude and self doubt had to change or my businesses would crumble because the way you carry yourself in the midst of obstacles is reflected in the way you conduct business. At that moment, I had a choice to make, either remain optimistic and keeping pushing forward despite the outcome or quit.
This positive mindset allowed me to think clearly and tackle problems proactively, as they occurred.
What are some tips and tricks you’d like to share with us that you use to help you overcome adversaries personally and professionally? Overcoming challenges to me isn’t about trying to be perfect; it’s about acknowledging my shortcomings and working daily to improve them to have a peaceful, balanced life.
In order to conquer any obstacles, it is crucial to overcome the fear of failure. I had to let go of my “perfectionist mentality” and embrace a new mindset. Regardless of the challenges that come your way, I believe with the right perspective you have the capability to surmount every trial. Remember that success is a journey, and setbacks are stepping stones towards greater achievements! Have faith, trust the process, rise above doubts, and keep going! You’ve shared with us before how you struggled with your body image growing up. Do you still have moments where this is a dilemma? Absolutely! As a woman, it’s only natural to experience moments of insecurity, especially when our bodies are constantly changing. However, I’ve made it a priority to love myself and refuse to let society dictate how I should look or be. During the COVID pandemic, I went through a bad breakup that took a toll on my mental well-being. I use to let negative individuals belittle and body shame me, which greatly affected my self-worth. But I realized that my identity doesn’t depend on a relationship or any external circumstances and the pain I went through became the driving force behind my personal growth. Breaking free from toxicity was a difficult process, but one that was absolutely worth it. I made a conscious decision to surround myself with people who supported and uplifted me.
How do you inspire other women to embrace who they are and feel comfortable in their own skin? I believe confidence is the most beautiful and important quality a woman can cultivate. It’s so easy for females to compare their looks and/or personality to others (especially with social media), but as innocent as it may seem, that mentality leads to a downward spiral of self doubt and hatred. Personally, I believe, a person is not capable of being truly happy unless they are first content with who they are as an individual person. When I started my fitness and modeling journey, I was consumed with what others thought of me. At the time, I had an extremely low self esteem and instead of embracing my strengths, I tore myself down by focusing on my imperfections. I was deeply confused and insecure because I let the opinions of other control my life. It was not until I made a conscious decision to cut off toxic relationships and change habits that I was able to embrace who I am and appreciate my personality. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your surroundings to not allow yourself to become swept up in gossip and comparisons. Once I made the decision to embrace who I am, regardless of what anyone else thinks … I became emotionally and mentally free. It was at that moment that things turned around. Companies and brands started reaching out with work opportunities. Now the world gets to see the silly, goofy, never ashamed, raw Rachel Joy that wants to leave an impact in every single person’s life that she meets! My advice to other is to not change who you are, your body or your outlook on life just to fit in or to get appreciation. Believe me, you’ll be amazed with who you’re capable of attracting into his life once you believe you are enough and inherently worthy!
It’s that time of the year many of us have been waiting for: Miami Swim Week. What are your thoughts about Miami Swim week making efforts to embrace all body types? I love that Miami Swim Week has really shifted over the years to embrace all types of women. I grew up being told I could never be a runway model because I am not tall enough and am too muscular. Now, fast forward a few years and this is my 5th year walking in MSW.
I encourage all women to confidently pursue their goals and push past what’s comfortable to achieve their biggest goals. Designers look for all different types of body sizes and styles. Step out and embrace the beautiful body God gave you. Don’t let fear hold you back from taking charge of your own destiny! Which Swim Week brands and designers have been your fav? This is a tough question, because there are so many incredible designers! My first year of swim week I saw Lila Nikole’s show and was in complete awe. She’s such a talented designer! Since her swimwear line is so unique and different than anything anyone has seen before, her model search and castings have become insanely competitive over the years. Even though it was intimidating in the beginning, I put myself out there and then was afforded the incredible opportunity of finally being able to walk in one of her shows!
Another amazing designer is Heidi with Maly Swimwear. I’ve had the privilege of walking in 4 of her shows over the past 3 years and during that time we’ve also built a genuine friendship outside of the runway.
I am very excited to walk for designer Krissy King again! I had the honor of walking for her in my first New York Fashion Week show! It was hands down one of my favorite shows and brands to represent. She puts so much creativity into each swimsuit and even gives her models wings for the runway (yaaaassss girl!!!)
Do these brands support inclusivity? If yes, how so? Yes, they all do which is why I love working with and supporting these brands. The modeling world is a very cut throat industry. I believe it’s important (and speaks volume about the designers) when all women have an equal shot to be chosen at each casting.
Lila Nikole always has such a diverse mix of women bodies and ethnicities in her swimwear and thrives to break the standard for fashion models. Krissy King truly cares about her models and supports them in a different way than other designers. She not only promotes inclusivity in regards to race and size, but also in terms of how genuine each model is. Are they nice? Do they have a good heart? If they are pleasant to be around and shows kindness to people…that’s who she wants representing her brand! It’s so refreshing to hear, and I look forward to walk for her again in July!
What are you looking forward to the most during this year’s Swim Week? Every year, Miami Swim week is a fun and special experience. In preparation, I endure a strict 4-6 week diet and training regime prior to MSW. After several weeks of dedication, I really look forward to knowing all my hard work is finally paying off when I have the privilege of confidently stepping onto each stage, all glammed up from the hair/makeup team.
Representing a mix of both local and international designer’s new swimwear collections each year is a feeling I take great pride in being a part of. Additionally, I look forward to the networking aspect and have met numerous amazing models and photographers over the years. What can we expect from you in the foreseeable future? Something that has always been close to my heart is humanitarian trips. As fortunate as I have been in my career, what truly matters is how I can turn around and be a blessing to others. Last year I went on a few trips to Peru and Colombia where I had a chance to speak at a women’s prison and many middle/high schools sharing my story and experiences. I hosted workouts and spread God’s light while encouraging them to continue their own journeys in life. As a child, my parents were missionaries and we grew up in developing countries. My parents are both my inspiration and role model because they truly lived selfless lives, which I believe is the true definition of lasting success. One of my bigger goals is to have a women’s health and wellness retreat to bring together and empower women to motivate, learn and grow. Additionally, a percentage of the center’s profits will be used help fund female developmental in emerging countries throughout the world. Lastly, I am currently working on a project with Axil Swimwear that will merge fitness and swimwear. To start, I will be hosting live weekly workouts with them and then we will expand into more health and wellness events throughout 2023 and 2024!