We chat with Karina about her journey to self-love and acceptance
Self-love can often feel like an uphill battle, especially when it’s so easy to compare ourselves to the edited version of others on social media. We reached out to the owner and designer of Moana Bikini and all-round confidence queen Karina Irby for some insight on how she has learnt to love herself and live life without worrying about how others perceive her.
Flaunting her curves, sharing photos of her eczema and never shying away from having a laugh, Karina uses her platform to help inspire her audience of over one million women and young girls to love and accept themselves just as they are.
Q: We’ve seen the photos of your dramatic body transformation from a few years ago to now. Have you always been so confident in your own skin? If not, what changed?
A: Definitely not!
When I was in my teen years, I was still learning to manage my eczema and I had a big bum – something that was not on-trend or desired back in the 2000s.
So, during those school years, I definitely got picked on or bullied, which definitely put a dent in my confidence levels. There are still so many elements of my body that – if I paid attention to the social norms spruiked in the media and on social media – I might feel ashamed of or less confident about.
But I get so much joy in sharing these elements of my body, and helping to normalise them and help other people feel comfortable, that these perceived ‘flaws’ have really become strengths to me.
Obviously I have learned to manage my eczema better, but I still have a big bum and get bloated and have cellulite… but it’s really been my perception of these things that’s changed and grown my level of confidence.
Q: Your commitment to transparency on your Instagram is inspiring. Do you ever get nervous about posting these raw, untouched photos and videos of yourself that society would deem as ‘unflattering’?
A: You know what, I actually don’t get nervous at all these days. The very first or second time I posted something raw or transparent I definitely felt nervous because there was a point in time, not very long ago, that no one was really being ’themselves’ on social media.
But now I really look forward to posting that kind of content as I can immediately see and hear it helping girls become more comfortable in their bodies, which is amazing!
Q: Do you ever have days where you feel less confident in yourself? If so, what are the steps you take to overcome these feelings?
A: Oh gosh, definitely! I think everyone does.
Whether it’s ’that’ time of the month, or you’ve fallen off your nutrition / exercise regime, or you’re just feeling ‘blergh!’
I always like to reset myself, if possible, and maybe have a workout or go for a walk – with my favourite music PUMPING in my earphones, of course. Getting your body moving always seems to help.
Taking some time to hang out with one of my close friends or my partner and just being in that moment with them and enjoying their company is a great way to take your mind off yourself or something you’re worried about.
Sometimes just scrolling through some of my favourite Instagram accounts that make me laugh or feel good can help too – @bretmanrock for example.
One or two – or all – of the above always ensures to pull me out of an under-confident mood.
Q: What’s your secret to not caring about what others think of you?
A: Surround yourself with people that make yourself feel good about YOU.
Curate your social media feed so you follow accounts that make YOU feel good about YOU.
Ignore and don’t engage with the haters and be 100% sure in the knowledge that, if they met you in person, there would be NO WAY they would ever say those mean things to your face. Social media has created an army of cowards that hide behind their digital profiles. Be sure of yourself, strong in your beliefs and, most importantly, always be kind to other people – and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Q: Is there a trick to staying motivated? From eating health and training regularly, to growing your business, and even just staying kind to yourself.
A: If there is, I wish I knew! Hehe.
In terms of health and training, consistency is huge for me. Once I am on a roll and sticking to a routine, I find it really hard to stop. It’s just getting to that point that’s the hard part!
I always think it’s important to not be so hard on yourself. We’re all busy and being pulled in so many different ways at once, that it’s impossible to NOT miss a workout or NOT have a treat-meal. And that’s okay! Once you stop being so hard on yourself for the little, impossible-to-avoid distractions, it’s actually easier to keep up the consistency, I think. It’s kind of reverse psychology, but if you be kind to yourself, you’ll find you have more time and motivation in the long-run.
In terms of business, I really just draw my inspiration and motivation from our customers – the Moana Army. We’ve created some really cool ways to keep in regular touch with our customers – whether that be our Online Chat or our Private Facebook Group – so if I ever need some motivation or inspiration it’s really easy to immediately connect with our Moana Babes and remind myself why I do what I do. Moana was started – and continues to grow – purely with the goal of making girls around the world happy and confident in the skin they’re in, so I find it super important and really fun to have so many direct lines of communication with these gals!
Q: Can you tell us about how you maintain a balance with food and exercise, and why this is important?
A: Like all aspects in my life, I just try not to be too hard on myself. I’ve done enough research and am old enough now to know what’s good for me and what’s not and what provides my body with what it needs and what takes away from its performance.
But with that said, sticking to a routine for too long can be tough, so I make sure to stick to things as well as I can, but not get too bummed if I miss a training session or have a treat meal.
I always make sure to treat myself on the weekend!
I’ve definitely become more relaxed over the past couple of years in relation to all of this. I felt like I was forcing myself to fit a certain mould or image a few years ago – especially when I started my business, Bikini Body Burn. Now this business has closed and there’s less pressure to train so much, eat a certain way or look a certain way… I’ve definitely found more of a ‘balance’.
But, Moana will be launching a sister-business in the next 6 months, in a similar space to Bikini Body Burn, which will have more of these relaxed, supportive, understanding and loving values!
Q: What’s your attitude towards food and do you believe in dieting?
A: As I mentioned before, consistency is huge for me. So, I actually don’t believe in ‘dieting’ as such, but rather just make small changes over longer periods of time that will eventually get you the results you want. And, results for me aren’t really about a body shape or type etc… but more about how I know it will make me feel inside and how it will make my body function. I have a MASSIVE sweet-tooth too… so there’s no way you’re going to see me without some chocolate in my hand at least a couple of days per week.
Q: What would you say to any girls reading this right now who are struggling to accept their body as it is?
A: Reach out!
Chat to me on social media. Come onto Moana’s Online Chat. Join The Moana Army Facebook Group.
I think that’s the most important thing – realising that no one is ever alone. Someone, somewhere – probably closer than you think – is going through exactly the same thing you are and feeling the way you do about their body.
Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to connect with like-minded people going through the same, or similar, issues as you are. Definitely try to use social media for this purpose – using it as a self-awareness and self-development tool – rather than getting stuck in a negative comparisons feedback loop.
Q: We would love for you to share some of your self-love tips.
A: We are all so busy these days and our brains are always cluttered and never get a chance to switch off. With this in mind, I think it’s SO IMPORTANT to take time to switch off and just be with yourself. Some of my fave things to do are…
Leaving my phone at home and going for long beach walks with my two puppies.
Taking a nice, long, hot bath and watching some trashy reality TV.
Giving myself an at-home skin treatment with my favourite products.
Anything that helps to calm your cluttered and busy mind is good to me!
Click the video below to check out Karina’s brand Moana Bikini, which celebrates women of all shapes, sizes and colours!