Spot the Dot & MIGA swim wear

We talked with Maria Luisa from MIGA Swimwear because we really like their empowering message of body love and self-acceptance among all women. Miga Swimwear makes sustainable swimwear inspired by the disfigured community, but made to be worn by all. We quickly decided to team up to ‘rebel against skin cancer” together (stay tuned). For now we have decided to share our stories. Below you find Maria Luisa’s story, and here you find ours.

“A big part of our mission is to raise awareness about what it is like to look differently” Maria Luisa Mendiola talks about her body-positive message and her very first skin check

When I was 11 years old, I realized my toes were different. I was born with a genetic condition that caused my feet to have short 4th toes, medically known as Brachymetatarsia. Growing up in Costa Rica, there were many times when I had to be barefoot and more often than not, I was asked “what’s wrong with your toes?” Every time this happened, I would freeze and feel extremely uncomfortable.

I was relieved when I moved to the US for college, where I could hide my feet 3 out of 4 seasons of the year, only to realize that concealing all year around made me even more vulnerable when I had to be barefoot, like at the beach or in a yoga class. For the following 6 years, I continued wearing espadrilles over flip-flops and rolling my toes into a ball every time I had to be barefoot.

By the time I did my master’s at Central Saint Martins, UK, I realized I had to put my insecurities aside after I read that over 80% of women were unhappy with how they looked. I knew I was not the only one, but I was shocked at how high the percentage was. So I decided to do something about it. I started designing garments inspired on my disfigurement and the disfigurement of others as a way to overcome the stigma that I felt.

Since 2016, I have worked with burn survivors, women that have facial palsy and scoliosis to tell their story through swimwear design and narratives. Our mission at MIGA Swimwear is to share their stories to combat stigma, creating a community of body-love and self-acceptance among all women. All of our bathing suits are designed with the input of our volunteers and come with a printed bag that details their story, as a way to raise awareness about the disfigurement community. All of our swimwear is made with SPF 50 sustainable fabrics and we carry some long-sleeve styles for our customers that want more sun protection.

A big part of our mission is to raise awareness about what it is like to look differently and that is where Spot The Dot and MIGA Swimwear merge. We are both passionate about educating the members of our community so that we can be best prepared for the challenges life throws at us, whether it is an unwanted diagnosis or day-to-day coping with a physical difference. Even though I work with this community, while discussing skin cancer with Marije, Spot The Dot’s founder, I found out how little I knew about the condition and I am embarrassed to admit, I had never gotten a skin check until last week. As soon as I hung up with Marije, I scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist because I like the sun a bit too much and I know I haven’t been the best at taking care of my skin. I was surprised at how easy it was to book my appointment and even easier to get the skin check done; the test lasted less than five minutes.

If you want to learn more about the resilient stories of the disfigurement community, make sure you sign up for our blog!

By: Maria Luisa Mendiola

Spot the Dot & MIGA swim wear 1

Photo: New York 2019 By: Vanessa Carvalho

About MIGA

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