Small But Big; Miga Swimwear.

12 December 2019

Hey, lovely readers. Welcome to the second instalment in my Small But Big’ series! This is a new project within a project (wait, is this blog a project, though? If so, sh*t, it’s been going on a while hasn't it?) that’s designed to shout-out small businesses; take a closer look behind the Etsy pages, into the stock cupboards and under the pristine front desk, and give a good insight into the minds of creators. 

Ooofftt, I’ve got myself all excited about it after that little spiel! Well, this interview is with the lovely Marialuisa at MIGA Swimwear; a brand celebrating womxn with visible differences, disabilities and chronic illnesses, by selling swimwear specifically designed to boost their confidence and help them love their bodies. 




Hey, Marialuisa. Thank you so much for taking the time to e-answer my questions! To start with, tell us a little about yourself, please?


How did MIGA Swimwear come to be?

MIGA starts from my experience with disfigurement: I have brachymetatarsia, which means that I have shortened 4th toes on both of my feet. A couple of years back, a friend asked me, “what’s wrong with your toes?” I got very uncomfortable and quickly changed the subject. I remember thinking: 'How is it possible that I am 25 years old and I still react like this when someone asks me about my feet?' It dawned on me that this question was always going to come up, no matter how old I got. So I decided to focus my master’s at Central Saint Martins, UK, on figuring out ways to lower stigma in the disfigurement community. To my surprise, I found that swimwear design coupled with storytelling could help women feel more comfortable with their bodies. One of the first women that I worked with, a burn survivor, was able to go back to swimming because of the bathing suit I designed for her. At this point, I realized I could not only change my perceptions toward disfigurement but that of others too. 


Your website says ‘Disfigurement Inspired’. Can you expand on that a little? 

Our tagline, Disfigurement Inspired, comes from the belief that disfigurement, as many things in life, can be a source of inspiration. Our aim is to contest the negative stigma surrounding the word disfigurement. Many times I have been told that we shouldn’t use the word disfigurement in our branding, that we should opt for the words visual or physical differences. My concern with using words other than disfigurement is that they wouldn't be clear enough. A physical difference can be having brown hair, as opposed to black, for example. If we are not clear about what we are referring to or if there is any confusion as to what we are trying to do, we will fail to break the stigma that surrounds not only the word in question, but the community it seeks to represent. Instead of being constricted by the word’s literal meaning, we should feel empowered to give new definitions to the words that make us uncomfortable or that cause us pain. By taking ownership of the language, we can change not only our perceptions but the perceptions of others. And that is powerful. 



What do you think is your biggest achievement thus far in your business journey? And what is one of your biggest dreams for this brand?

My biggest achievement thus far has been to find the right production team. After a year of many challenges trying to do it all on my own, I realized I needed to pivot. I needed to hire people that were smarter and more skilled than me, especially in the skill sets that I do not have myself, in order to scale our business. After a lot of asking around and really putting it out there that I needed help, I found these two highly detailed-oriented and professional, overall badass ladies I hired for this collection and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

My biggest dream is to challenge the established beauty standard so that more women feel comfortable in their own bodies. I believe I can do this by creating stigma-breaking, self-esteem boosting swimsuits. My professional goal is to make MIGA Swimwear profitable. If we don’t get sales, we won’t be able to continue to raise awareness about the experience of having disfigurement, disabilities or chronic illnesses and thus, break the stigma. A study recently conducted found that more than a third of people with visible differences are discriminated against at work. I believe that fashion, specifically swimwear design, can change that. 




Anything else you want to share? The floor is yours! 

It is important for others to know that our brand is not only for women living with disfigurement, disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. We do not seek inclusion at the expense of excluding other groups. We believe non-disfigured and able-bodied people can re-frame how they look at their own bodies and ultimately, learn how to accept and love themselves through the lessons of the disfigurement, disability and chronic illness community. 


Thank you so much for answering my questions, Marialuisa. I personally am so inspired by what you’ve created with this business. Readers, you can find MIGA at migaswimwear on Instagram, or at migaswimwear.com



Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s the first 'Small But Big' post – an interview with the wicked Renee at Sh! Womens Erotic Emporium. You’re welcome.

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