INTERVIEWS

Photos by Erica Livoti


DAKOTA ARUNDEL

Dakota5

Occupation: Director – NoLita Kit and Ace

Age:  25        

Tell us about yourself in under 100 words:

I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, spent a few years going to school in Dallas, Texas, and now live in NYC. I’m a bit of a minimalist. I love all things earthy and beautiful. I have two older brothers and two younger [brothers]. I’ve always been very active, I get a little stir crazy if I sit still for too long. I love good food, great friends, and interesting conversations.

What is something about you that most people don’t know?

That I am most comfortable outdoors. Also, I graduated high school early and moved to Mexico for a few months to continue my Spanish studies. While I was there a scorpion stung me in my sleep – I woke up screaming bloody murder. The next day all the veins in my arm were swollen red. I’m being pretty literal in the fact that a lot of my friends don’t know this about me.

What is the most amazing thing your body has done?

A few years ago I went on a long expedition through the Boundary Waters in Northern MN. The strain this put on my body was incredible and 24/7. We were hiking and portaging massive amounts of weight. My body showed me what it was made of. I was grateful to have such a healthy, capable body.

If you could look like someone else who would it be? If offered the chance to look like them instead of yourself for the rest of your life would you take it?

My mother has really wild curly brown hair. I have always wanted to look like her for a day but I wouldn’t want to stay that way forever.

You went to high school in Minneapolis and mentioned that your group of friends just didn’t put that much focus on appearance. When you went to college in Dallas it was a completely different scene where appearance suddenly held a lot more value. What do you think made the focus shift in one place vs. the other?

I believe it’s upbringing. The way the group of girls and I were raised in Minneapolis, focus was on academics and athletics. Across the board, none of our mothers place self-worth on appearance and that translated into the way they raised us. My group of friends specifically were more shielded from those pressures than a lot of other girls we knew – so in a way it was luck also. That’s not to say we weren’t extremely interested in fashions, it just never went as far as to impact how we valued ourselves.

In Dallas it is just culturally different, which is also OK. Looking good to the girls I went to College with just had a different definition than the girls I went to high school with. I loved having that experience in living, it just happened to not align with what makes me the happiest. I don’t like spending time putting on make up in the morning, but hey if you’re somebody who does, there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t like wearing hot pink lipstick or six inch heals to my 7AM History of Western Philosophy class, but if that’s what makes you feel ready for the day then do you.

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Describe your self-care and/or wellness rituals?

I am a freak about washing my face every night and wearing sunscreen when I am outside.

We posted a picture of you on our instagram page during the RAW shoot with the caption, “69% of girls reported magazine pictures influence their idea of a perfect body. When these images are so heavily retouched it creates an unattainable form of beauty. Let’s find role models for girls who look real.” Some people commented that if we were looking for “real” girls we shouldn’t pick girls who look like models. What was your reaction to this?

Well, at first I was flattered she thought I looked like a model and that my workout the night before must have really paid off.

Honestly I happened to be showing my boyfriend the photo when I saw that and he is the one who called it out to me. I think everyone has an opinion about this stuff and I can see where she was coming from. I happen to look a bit ( I can’t believe I am saying this) like a stereotypical blonde model in THAT photo. If the message we are trying to send is that you don’t have to look like the edited girls in magazines, why would we use somebody who does as the poster child? I get it. I think the second, more important layer to that conversation is – if I happen to look like a model why would that make my appearance bad? Why do we pit body-types against each other? You posted many photos after mine of women with very different bodies. As long as we are showing girls a full picture of what women look like, why are some okay and some (mine) not okay? There are plenty of girls out there who naturally have long legs, or skinny bodies, and we shouldn’t be body shaming for that. It’s about being natural and owning what your mama gave you- whatever that is and looks like.

If you could give one message to women of the world what would it be

Don’t let anybody externally set your value, that’s yours to own and define. Don’t let that go.

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