IT is not unusual for girls to struggle with body image insecurities, especially in their teenage years, and it is always a beautiful story when they begin to feel more comfortable in their skin as they come of age. Eighteen-year-old Gabrielle Billimoria has not only learnt to love and appreciate her body, but she is using her new business, Waves Jamaica, as a tool to encourage her peers to love their bodies too.
“Growing up I was always bullied about my appearance, and I developed a lot of insecurity and self-hatred,” the Ardennite told All Woman. “Throughout my years in high school, I slowly found myself battling depression, so I would push myself to do things that would help me gain confidence. After a while my self-hate started turning into self-acceptance, then self-love.”
Billimoria, who is now a body-positivity advocate, thought it would be fitting for her to develop an all-inclusive brand.
“I have always had a passion for business, and I always knew it was the field I was destined for,” she said frankly. “And because of my experience with these issues, I also had an extreme desire to help others struggling with self-hatred, insecurities and body image issues.”
Having launched a few months ago, she already has a stream of orders being made through her Instagram and FaceBook online stores (@waves.ja), and has been making islandwide deliveries. Billimoria aims to expand her line of items, which now consists mainly of comfy hoodies, sweaters and T-shirts, to include more branded items that cater to all sizes, races and genders.
“I made it my goal to start a clothing brand that not only would be diverse and inclusive, but a positive influence that radiates self-love,” the teen shared. “Our slogan is 'Happiness comes in waves'. These words are significant because they frame me as a person. My journey thus far has proven to me that happiness is attainable but it does take time and patience.”
Like many other teens, she had been looking forward to starting university this year; however, Billimoria decided it would be best to take a gap year due to the pandemic, but she hopes to continue her studies next year.
“I plan on attending university to get a bachelors in business management,” she said optimistically. “I also plan on expanding Waves and becoming a more impactful body-positive advocate. Waves is only in its development stage, so I plan to continue growing my business and inspire others to follow their dreams.”
While she admits that she still struggles sometimes with embracing herself, flaws and all, the young entrepreneur finds happiness in spreading positivity through her brand.
“It warms my heart knowing that pushing myself positively impacts many others,” she said. “This company is just the first step to a greater plan of changing society's views on the beauty standard. I wish to not only be a positive influence on people of my country, but worldwide. We can never have too much love and positivity in this world.”