After speaking with famous plus-sized blogger Nadia Aboulhosn for a body image feature — entitled “Can We Please Stop With All The Body Shaming?” — Vv Magazine’s Azra Hirji kept the conversation going with the fascinating model and healthy body image advocate. What transpired became this important interview, “15 Questions With Plus-Sized Blogger Nadia Aboulhosn.”
There’s a huge spotlight on plus-sized models and the fashion industry’s influential role in how women view their bodies, and Nadia Aboulhosn is at the forefront of it all. Having started her namesake blog in 2010, Nadia was one of the first ‘plus-sized bloggers’ to garner worldwide attention for her independently-run website dedicated to healthy living and plus-sized street style. Since the inception of NadiaAboulhosn.com, she’s been featured in a number of cutting edge fashion bibles such as Vogue Italia and Teen Vogue, as well as prestigious online outlets including Complex, Refinery 29 (multiple times!), and Buzzfeed. She has also modelled for more numerous high-profile campaigns for international brands like American Apparel, Boohoo, and Addition Elle. Despite growing demand for her modelling skills in both magazine editorials and big label advertisements, Nadia has maintained her blog between all the photoshoots and fittings — helping shape a more progressive view of what is beautiful in the process. We sat down with the model and advocate for healthy body image to discuss what it means to be a “real woman,” how she overcame her insecurities, why she hates being called a role model, and how she confronts “the beauty ideal” (also known as size 2 and under) while working in an industry that seems to perpetuate societal obsessions with unattainable small frames.
1. First off, are you a plus-sized model?
Do I consider myself plus size? Yes and no.
2. If you are , may I ask what your size is, and are you okay with being called a plus-sized model?
My size is 12. I don’t really think there should be labels for women, but understand that that’s what the fashion industry does. I’m okay with being labelled “plus size” — I don’t get angry, but I don’t consider myself “plus.” I don’t think the label is needed in the industry.
3. Is there room in the industry for others who are not quite at the ‘plus-sized’ level?
There’s work for anyone in this industry. Work comes and goes. My weight sometimes can be a problem because, for plus-sized brands, I’m not big enough. For “straight”-sized brands, I’m considered too big. It’s frustrating, but I try to make it work.
4. Being in the fashion industry, you’ve been quite successful as a model and blogger — you have 17.7k Twitter followers and a blog that has garnered the attention of some of the world’s most prominent magazines. What do you think it is about you and your style that attracts people?
I think there are a lot of factors. I think my body type is relatable. I think a lot of women look to me for confidence/inspiration. If they see me wearing form-fitting pieces every day then that gives them hope. I wear whatever I want, whenever I want, whether it makes people feel uncomfortable or not. I like experimenting. I will wear something very minimal and then the next day, something over the top.
5. When you started blogging in 2010, you were a delicatessen, in the sense that you were a minority in the blogging scene. Now the realm is full of women of all shapes and sizes from various ethnicities and backgrounds. How do you make your blog stand out?
I don’t really try to make my blog stand out. I just focus on myself and hope people enjoy it. I really try to stay myself and not look at what everyone else is doing because it takes away from my creativity. I always stay true to myself and I think people can see that. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t.
6. You’re an effing bad ass, and I have to commend your attitude and ask how you overcome the barriers in your life (i.e internet trolls, not getting into fashion design, etc)?
Thank you so much! Well, as far as internet trolls, I’m only human so, of course, some things will bother me. I try to understand that these people are bored and need someone to attack. I try not to pay attention to them but it’s hard because being on social media is part of my job, and that’s what pays the bills. Not getting into fashion design school or pitching myself to brands and being denied for years and years — I mean, that’s just a part of it all. I never give up on myself. There will always be people who don’t like you or what you do, but you have to believe in yourself through it all. I don’t settle for ‘no’ when it comes to my career. As far as insecurities, everyone has them. My biggest insecurity would be my past. I wasted a lot of time as a teenager bullshitting and wish I didn’t do a lot of the stuff I did, but try to understand that that needed to happen for me to get where I am today.
7. In regards to the plus-sized industry, what are the aspects you love about it? What are some aspects that you don’t about the industry?
I don’t like a lot of the labelling but love all the strong women who made it all possible — all the plus bloggers, the plus magazines, the brands who worked to have better product for women of all shapes. It’s been a long time coming. I really think if it wasn’t for all these women pushing for better product, we wouldn’t have it.
8. The plus-sized fashion industry is also booming. Why do you think it’s taken so long for women of bigger sizes to really be seen?
Social media wasn’t as big as it is now and it gives everyone the platform to have a voice and be heard. Now with all these plus bloggers demanding more, we’re getting it.
9. You always read about traditional models who are forced to look a certain way or lose weight. Have agencies, designers, or magazines asked that of you?
I’ve been asked once to gain weight for a brand, but contracts never went through.
10. What has been your response?
I just want to be at the weight I feel is best for me and what I’m happy at. No agency, designer, or magazine can tell me how I should be.
11. What are your thoughts on being called a “real woman”? What does it mean to be a “real woman”?
Probably the dumbest shit I ever heard. Sorry for my language — no, not really sorry. It’s so dumb. All women are real women. I’ve been seeing that quote for some time now, and whoever made it is ridiculous.
12. Your style is always on point. I’ve never seen an outfit on you that I haven’t liked. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Thank you! Anything and everything inspires me, really. Seeing other people, landscapes, going to showrooms — I just try to pull inspiration from it all.
13. You’re often considered a role model, but who do you look up to? Are there pressures to keep up your care-free attitude and body-positive ideals?
I don’t consider myself a role model. I look up to my mom and other strong women. But I can understand how people look up to me as far as being confident with themselves and their bodies, but I’m not innocent nor do I want that title. I’m not really the ideal candidate to look up to. I’ll be the first to say that. I think the industry gives “celebrities” too much “role model” duty.
14. What are some tips you can give to women with curves on starting their own blog and what can they expect diving into the plus-sized fashion industry?
Work super hard, don’t worry about what anyone else is saying, be persistent, and don’t give up on yourself. You might get a lot of “no’s,” but everything you do now is setting you up for your future.
15. Last but not least, do you have a universal styling tip you can share with us?
Wear whatever you want with confidence!
Images: Nadia Aboulhosn
What are your thoughts on Nadia Aboulhosn and the plus-size fashion industry? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.