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7 Striking Portraits Show Beach Life In Miami

This story was originally published on June 15, 2015.

What does a "beach body" look like? The phrase calls to mind a specific look promoted by the media, but the only requirement a body has to fill to be a "beach body" be on the beach. This past Memorial Day Weekend, Refinery29 headed to Urban Beach Week, a hip-hop festival that has been held in Miami's South Beach since the '90s. There, we talked body confidence and body pressures with 10 different women. They spoke of everything from anxiety to self-assurance to their tendency to judge other people. Their candour was refreshing.
Photographed by Wayne Lawrence.
Aisha Edwards & Nigia Greene

Aisha: "I accept myself. I love how I’m confident. You know, living this lifestyle, you have to have thick skin and accept yourself. When I first came out...the lifestyle I live is not what [my family] believes in, but they accepted it."

Nigia: "I know I look good, so it's whatever."
Jada Rogers

"I just moved to Miami, so it's definitely been a cultural adjustment for me. Everyone is always so exposed, and it's definitely something that I have to get used to. But I don’t really feel too intimidated by the cultural difference here. I feel like I fit in just perfectly because I'm confident no matter where I am.

"Personally, I don’t have the time to judge others. I'm very free-spirited, very down-to-earth, very humble."
Aliyah Vaughan

"I tend to suck in my stomach sometimes. Even though I am small, I still have insecurities about my stomach. I wish my waist was a little bit smaller, but you know… I think everybody is beautiful in their own way. Everybody is here on this Earth [in] different sizes, [for] different reasons."
Shombroya Goodman & Rickquette Scruggs

"I'm feeling really confident. I'm feeling sexy… I’m from Ohio… I know with Miami, it seems like they got more fake booties sometimes, and more fake breasts, so it's like kind of competitive a little bit, but not really because we're still confident… Like being in Ohio is like, Oh, yeah, I can be skinny. That’s fine. You thin. But here it's like, Oh, she got to be a little thick."

"I'm feeling confident about everything about my body. It's a beautiful beach, so we're having fun."
Teneja Griifin

"I am very confident. I wouldn’t pose for a picture I didn’t feel confident posing for! I sometimes feel a little self-conscious because I’m a mom, so along with the whole pregnancy thing comes problem areas like my stomach, of course...

I definitely feel like you’re pressured to feel a certain way, and it’s media-based. These celebrities come out, and they’re all super-skinny, with abs and long hair… The media makes you feel like you have to feel a certain way, [but] If you have really high self-confidence and you feel like you look good, it really doesn’t matter what people [think]. It all depends on what you feel."
Lashun Smith

"To be honest, sometimes I do look at people’s bodies and I state my opinion with my friends, but yeah, I think everybody judges people when it comes to bodies... I don’t feel like [anyone] is completely confident in themselves… I feel like, honestly, I'm too skinny sometimes, but I do get to the gym and try to tone up."
Nyeria Handy & Patrice Lamar

Nyeria: "I work out a lot. Very often… I don’t eat good, but I just work out... I'm scared to get over 130."

Patrice: "In this world today, like everybody is so judgmental of how they look on the outside instead of what they look inside. But all that matters is what is in the inside, because if you're not good in the inside, then how would you take care of the outside?"

Photographed by Wayne Lawrence ; Reporting by Stephanie Wallace ; Reporting by Alyssa Panganiban