Alicia Keys’ Athleta collection is all about showing appreciation for your body
Just in time for International Women’s Day, Alicia Keys has launched her first collection for fitness apparel brand Athleta. The timing of March 8 was no coincidence, chosen to highlight the message behind the range, which seeks to celebrate the uniqueness of every woman’s body.
It’s a philosophy that touches closely at Keys. “I’ve never been the super skinny girl,” she says on Zoom. “I’ve never been the one who can eat it all and be exactly what I want.”
This meant that evolving as a young woman in an industry that practically idolized thinness proved to be quite difficult for the musician at times. Remember for a moment the savagery that was in the beginning: hit shows like The biggest losermelting ingenues like Lindsay Lohan or Nicole Richie.
“I think we’ve all been given a lot of programs that make us feel like you have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful,” Keys says. “But over my life, I’ve come to respect the beauty of a woman’s body. We really come in all shapes and sizes.
That doesn’t mean insecurities don’t still surface from time to time. “It’s a trip,” she says. “You don’t always feel happy with yourself.” But she makes a conscious effort to approach self-love as a practice. Mantras and affirmations are an integral part of it. “I truly believe that the thoughts we allow ourselves to think create our lives,” she says. (She hints that we may see mantras incorporated into her future collections for Athleta.)
How we think about our bodies is crucial, but so is how we treat them, Keys says. For example, she admits she used to dread working out, counting the minutes until she was done. Now she is looking forward to it. “I found that I fell in love with physical activity by making it more diverse and not feeling obligated to do one thing,” she says. “I was able to find different things that I really enjoy and feel good about.”
These days it’s usually yoga, pilates or dance. If she feels tired, she won’t force herself to do a long grueling workout, but instead engage in something gentler for 20 or 30 minutes. “Even though I don’t sweat a lot, I know I’m giving my body something it needs.”
It’s about being kind to our body, making it feel good instead of trying to torture it. This intention is woven through every piece of Keys’ Athleta collection. She made sure to select fabrics that were soft to the touch, fits that never made you feel cramped. Everything is available in sizes XXS to 3X and designed to give wearers the freedom to move and breathe. “You put it on and you feel great,” she says. “It’s going good, it’s looking good, and you’re like, ‘I’m ready for this crazy world.'”
The palette has also been carefully considered, a warm and earthy mix of smoky chocolate, bright fuchsia and golden ochre. “I chose such bright and bold colors because I really wanted you to feel comfortable standing out and saying, ‘I’m here and I’m not self-shy.'”
Keys tested the collection herself before its launch. “I get up and put on a piece, take my kids to school, go to pilates, go to breakfast, and I can wear the same whole look and look cute all the way! ” This even extends to sleep. Because for our well-being, rest is just as important as movement, she insists.
“It’s a great thing that I learned. We’ve been taught to work until we can’t stand and whoever sleeps the least is kind of the winner, and that’s such a backward mentality. Even though we think we’re supposed to be moving at a million miles an hour, there’s something really powerful about stillness.
That’s why Keys is just as mindful of her bedtime rituals as she is of her movement practices or meditations. Before donning her buttery sleep suit (“Wait till you put it on your body, it’s amazing!”), she likes to put on some relaxing music and do breathing exercises. Some nights, she pulls out a diary and writes down her wildest dreams. “A lot of times I find I struggle with it because I somehow limit myself or feel embarrassed for wanting this big, huge thing, but it’s such a powerful way to fall asleep.”
It comes down, she says, to “not being afraid of your greatness,” which she wants to help other women do, too. As part of its partnership with Athleta, Keys will help select recipients of the brand’s Power of She fund and serve as a mentor. The grant program aims to support “women and girls, businesses, and organizations committed to making wellness accessible, especially in the BIPOC community.”
“I truly believe that the more you can connect to what’s special within you, the more you can see that there isn’t just one way to be.”
The Athleta x Alicia Keys collection is available now at athleta.gapcanada.ca.
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