Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Miamians are using painful experiences, creativity to power change

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

For weeks now our editorial board has stressed the importance of students being involved members of the Oxford Community. Whether it's through voting in Oxford elections or standing up against the community's sexual assault problem, we believe students should use their skills to challenge the issues in our community.

This week, The Miami Student highlighted two companies in Oxford that were founded by former Miami students. Theses two students experienced different traumas and difficulties during their time here, but have since used those experiences to create something positive.

One of these companies is Kick Back Bath Co., which was founded by Maria Racadio. Racadio started the company in order to fund self-defense classes for women. As a rape survivor herself, Racadio found empowerment through self-defense training and encourages women to do the same.

The company's products include bath bombs, scrub soap and a moonstone necklace. The goal is to encourage women to kick back and relax, but also be able to kick back against assault.

The other company is PWRMV, which was founded by Shea Foreit. PWRMV sells clothes printed with negative stereotypes and self-deprecating insults. The idea for the company came from Foreit's own struggles with depression and trying to cram himself into social norms.

PWRMV's branding is provocative, bordering on crude -- some shirts bear phrases such as "I EAT ASS" and "Beat my Clock." Others are more tame: One of their clothing lines is dedicated to body diversity and uses phrases such as "Dad bod" and "Scrawny." Foreit says his overarching goal is to encourage consumers to embrace the odd and messed-up aspects of social life in college. We don't love every bit of apparel on PWRMV's site, but we think Foreit and his products are in honest pursuit of that goal.

These are two different companies with different target audiences and messages, but their paths track along similar lines. Both founders refashioned negative personal experiences into positive public messages.

Racadio found power in helping women learn self-defense and advocating for other survivors.

Foreit was able to destigmatize his depression by calling others to embrace the imperfect aspects of their lives, instead of encouraging them to live up to societal standards.

Both companies are working to fight social problems in our community. Students taking control of issues they see on and off campus is a message we have stressed over and over again. Seeing members of our community stepping up like this is -- more than a step -- a leap in the right direction.

That is something we can all admire.

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Sometimes, to get a message across, you need to get creative, and maybe a little provocative.

Oxford and Miami are packed with people who have the potential to make a difference. We each have a unique voice, a unique talent, which we can use to advocate for the causes we are passionate about.

Racadio and Foreit are at least two Miamians engaging with their community in this way. It's up to the rest of us to follow their examples, and to stand up for the changes we want to see.