Boston Company Empowers Young Women Through Fashion

Cyber bullying and body shaming is running rampant on social media. Now a local company is using fashion to fight back.

In the high flying world of fashion where the competition to stand out is fierce, Sam Sisakhti created UsTrendy, an online platform to help up and coming up designers sell clothing directly to customers.

"It’s amazon for fashion," says Sisakhti, who is also the CEO of the Boston-based company.

But Sisakhti says this success also brought some unintended consequences.

Nasty comments about body image started piling up during one of his social media campaigns featuring real customers wearing the latest trends.

"Fat jokes basically," says Sisakhti.

So a few months ago, he started "believe in yourself,” an organization to help empower young women through fashion. The goal is to fight cyber bullying and body shaming.

Sisakhti personally drops off free dresses to local groups working with youth, like the Boys and Girls Club in South Boston.

A recent study shows cyber bullying is wide spread on social media. Seventy percent of youngsters admit saying something hurtful online. Seventeen percent say they’ve been bullied and it happens the most on Instagram.

UsTrendy, a non-profit, isn’t just giving away beautiful dresses, it connects girls with important mentors like psychologist Mia Holland.

"Social media has made it worse, because it’s now ubiquitous. And for vulnerable girls it’s a big influence," Holland said.

She and Northeastern University Associate Professor Rachel Rogers are teaming up to help these girls deal with social and cultural pressures.

"And to be very critical of the messages they are receiving," Rogers said.

Sisakhti admits UsTrendy also played a role in perpetuating unfair ideals of beauty. His team now deletes any negative comments and is encouraging designers to use a more diverse group of models.

"I am calling some people out in some ways, and expect there to be some backlash," Sisakhti said.

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