Nadia Aboulhosn is queen of a plus-size empire.
Nadia Aboulhosn basically taught me to love my body. The blogger, model, and businesswoman (and fellow Lebanese sistah—word up, my sharmutas) has built her own plus-size empire which was already in full beast mode five years ago when I stumbled upon her blog via Pinterest. It was illuminating to see that a woman with *gasp* touching thighs could also be fierce AF. She didn’t look “cute,” she didn’t look like a friendly gal next door who bakes you lemon loaves and has a tiny pooch. She looked like she would wrap those thighs right around your face until you begged for mercy—and made it sexy.
The more I dug into her blog, the more I learned about my own body and its strong sexual signals. Butts, thighs, hips, and boobs weren’t something to “contain,” or “flatten,” or “control,” or “smooth.” They were something to celebrate. To sing about from the rooftops. It made me want to walk down the street in booty shorts, flashing my thick Lebanese thighs, or wear a belly-baring bikini, and give zero fucks.
“I think that people are fed up [with] the images they can't necessarily relate to and they want to feel represented,” Aboulhosn tells me. “In the 90s, since there was no social media and it was harder to see things other than what's in magazines and [on] TV, you couldn't really change what the industry beauty standard was. Social media now allows you to push that. It gives people platforms.”
Aboulhosn’s social media platform has expanded from her blog and Tumblr to a massive following on Instagram and Twitter. Blogging, and by extension social media, can sometimes be viewed as an exercise in vanity or self-indulgence, but she has leveraged her following into a mainstream career that has seen her grace the campaigns of Addition-Elle, Gabi Fresh, and most recently she posed side-by-side with Khloe Kardashian.
“I kind of built my entire career off of my social media presence. [It] was the combination of blogging and Tumblr at first. Instagram was the next step, and [it] has definitely helped me connect with a lot of people.”
And brands. Plus-size models weren’t handed every opportunity on a platter. They’ve had to hustle and use all of their drive and ambition in order to muscle their way into the business. They’ve had to create their own work and make their own spaces until the rest of the world had no choice but to take notice. “A lot of my opportunities came from me pitching myself,” Aboulhosn says. “I made them notice me because I reached out. [Because I] had somewhat of a following, I was able to pitch myself to brands and say, ‘This is my growth, these are my numbers, and I think we could do something that will be revolutionary, something that is needed, so we can push the topic forward.’"
Aboulhosn’s Instagram images and catalogue work are definitely hard to scroll by without a pause. When I look at her, I don’t see a shrinking violet or a wallflower, I see a woman that won’t take any BS. It’s been said many times that confidence is sexier than an actual appearance or shape, but as she tells me, many people were shocked that a big woman allowed herself to feel confident in a society that tells her she shouldn’t. “I remember when I'd post up pictures of me and I looked confident, so many people we're like, ‘Wait, how is she so confident and is bigger?’ I would constantly get asked how I was so confident and it was shocking to them. I didn't understand at the time why it was such a big deal because I lived in my body every day and I loved it. I didn't pay much attention to what people did and didn't like about my body, especially not the industry, because I was determined to make things happen whether they thought I was considered attractive or not.”
There is a lesson to be learned here. Whether you want to show some skin, or completely cover up in loose-fitting clothes, those choices don’t diminish your inherent sexiness. “Some people can say dressing less feminine isn't sexy, but I feel sexy when I wear oversized pieces or sweats, because it's [about] my thought process rather than what I'm wearing.” Aboulhosn says. It’s that self-love and self-worth that informs almost all of her work, she tells me. “Body positivity is so important for women because we just want something in the media that we can relate to. So often we get hard on ourselves about our physical features and [seeing someone who looks like us in the media can] reassure us that we're beautiful no matter what journey we're on, at any size. Although we still have a way to go when it comes to size diversity, bloggers and influencers are making their point to the masses.”
Khloe Kardashian also subscribes to this ethos, she claims. Their recent collab, as she tells it, was nothing short of inspiring and positive. “I love how much [Khloe] understands the need for so many women to feel good about themselves. It makes sense coming from someone who has actually been through it rather than [from] something like [a clothing line] incorporating larger sizes because it's trendy. As far as my and Khloe's popularity and what it means for women struggling with feeling good about their bodies, it's really needed. Because people should see that we feel confident and positive about ourselves.”
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