s4a: What makes you feel sexy on the beach?
Shareefa J: I feel sexy on the beach when I can wear really comfortable clothing but I know it still looks good. So, something that fits me really nice. You know, feeling really confident, having my tan. But just being really comfortable, being really free, but tan and looking really nice.
s4a: What makes you feel sexy in a swimsuit?
Shareefa J: I feel sexy in a swimsuit when I’ve got really great colors on. I know that it looks really nice on me when people say, ‘Oh you look great.’ I like to be trendy and fit in. So many like bright colors, something that fits me really nicely that I know shows off the best of my shape. I like to try and flatter the good areas and hide the bad ones.
s4a: What’s your favorite curve on your body?
Shareefa J: My favorite curve on my body is my bum. It’s quite round and perky and I do some squats, as well. So I try to make it nice and toned.
s4a: How do you feel about the word plus-sized?
Shareefa J: Okay. I feel the word plus-sized is quite ambiguous. I don’t really know what it means. For me it is like, does it mean like plus as in like extra, like extraordinary? Or does it just mean, you know, big or what, I don’t really know. I think it is… a strange word to use, but I don’t know if necessarily it is the right word. I don’t know if it is suited to the market that it is supposed to be suited to. I don’t know if that is the right word for it.
s4a: The average American woman is a size 14, but most models especially in swimwear are between a size 0 and 4. What do you think this says about how women are perceived?
Shareefa J: Yeah. I think that women are perceived in magazines and on TV to be you know, skinny is beautiful and big is not beautiful. And I think that’s not right at all. I actually feel really passionately about this one because I think that young girls grow up looking at magazines, teeny, tiny, skinny girls and say, oh I should look like this? And then they start growing lumps and bumps, going through puberty and then they are like, ‘Whoa mine doesn’t look like that.’ Then getting insecure and then that is how eating disorders are developed and horrible things. And I think that the media and TV and magazines and all of that has a lot to do with it. I’m so glad to be part of something that portrays a really healthy image for young girls so they can feel confident when they are growing their lumps and bumps to know that it is normal and not everyone has to be a stick insect and not everyone has to be big, you can just be you and that is fine.
s4a: Is the male ideal of sexy really smaller women, or is that just how they are shown in the media?
Shareefa J: I think the male ideal of sexy… I think in the media it seems to be smaller is sexier, at the moment, currently. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s how men feel. I don’t know, ask some men. I think that you can be sexy at any size. And if you find the right person they will find you sexy anyway.
s4a: Where do you get your confidence from?
Shareefa J: I get my confidence from just being really happy and being myself and feeling myself. I know I don’t feel confident when I am being asked to, especially when I have been in situations where they have said, ‘Can you just try and look a little bit smaller?’ No, this is just me. I feel confident when I can just be myself, wear what I want to wear, do what I want to do, dress how I want to dress. All those things, I think confidence comes from within and it is really important to try to have it.
s4a: The evolution of a woman’s swimsuit is now at a place where there has been a visible shift away from modesty. In the current world of swimsuits, small is often beautiful, bodies in smaller bikinis. Do you think that excluded curvier women or should curvier women wear smaller bathing suits?
Shareefa J: I think curvier women should definitely be able to wear whatever they want to wear. As long as they feel comfortable and I don’t think that excludes curvy women at all. I think they can wear whatever holds them in. Whatever fits. Whatever is comfortable. Definitely. I don’t see why there should be a divide. I think we are all people and we should all be able to have equal rights and decisions.
s4a: What can we do as a society to promote that all women can and should look sexy on the beach?
Shareefa J: I think that campaigns like this are really great because it’s a great way to promote that all women can be sexy on the beach, whatever size, whatever age.
Anything like that. Definitely more campaigns like this. I’d love to see more stuff like this going on because I think that it is really important that people realize that you don’t have to be a size 4 to be sexy on the beach. And everyone stressing out a month before the holiday, going to the gym. You know, go to the gym but you don’t have to, just be yourself. Get a lovely tan and you will still look great.