Slowly yet surely, body diversity has been seeping into the worldwide fashion narrative. However, when it comes to the Arab world, the concept is nothing new. Names like Ameni Esseibi, Tunisia’s trailblazing plus size model are already big on social media and within the fashion industry at large. Since 2021, the Arab fashion model has been making a name for herself whether by getting featured on the cover of Vogue or modeling for 11 Honoré. Yet, her biggest dive into the fashion world was her grand debut at Paris Fashion Week.
Modelling for Weinsanto, the 23 year old model strutted the runway in a satin gown with an added touch of elegance exemplified through her white satin gloves. Body diversity in the international fashion sphere are still undergoing a slow shift, being one of the only two plus size models on the runway made Esseibi’s debut at Paris Fashion Week quite special. This year’s fashion season is bringing both Arab designers and models to the limelight. Arab models like Bella Hadid and Nora Attal dominated Milan’s fashion week, bringing Arab voices to the forefront, the same can be said for Esseibi’s Paris show.
“It was like a dream come true, because I was the only Arab on the runway so I was really representing all the Arabs, it was a really exciting moment — it felt amazing,”Esseibi Via The National
Today, Esseibi is making headlines and reaching the peak of her fashion career, one that she has been paving since 2019. The launch of her prosperous career took off when she began modelling for e-commerce Arab designers in the UAE.
Since then, she always strove to represent Arabs in the fashion industry at large. In an interview with Vogue, she spoke about how she hopes that the diversity present during Paris Fashion Week can inspire this to be the norm. By becoming the first plus size ambassador for activewear brand Women’s Best as well as the Arab Fashion Council, Esseibi feels there is a shift towards Arab plus size models gaining a bigger voice and role in the fashion community.
Esseibi is not the only plus size model boosting Arab representation in the fashion world, Saudi Arabia’s Ghaliah Amin is also adding to the change. It all began 9 years ago when Amin aspired to become a TV host yet received a lot of backlash with media houses refusing to include a plus size figure as their official presenter. Overtime, internationally, there was a shift in the discourse and acceptance of plus size public figures and because of that, Amin was able to nab her first role as a TV presenter on a show called “Fashion Time”.
From there, her career only prospered, she hosted an aplomb of star studded shows with prominent figures in the fashion industry like Dior’s Maria Garzia. Other than the big screen, now in her 30s, Amin wanted to leverage her role as a public figure to actively change the narrative behind current beauty standards and ideals so she launched “Ana Ghaliah,” an initiative all about body positivity that celebrates women and encourages them to love their bodies and go against unrealistic ideals.
Under the same vein are models like Lebanese American Nadia Aboulhosn who several years back started her career as a style blogger with a small following, yet overtime she began to get noticed and was called on by Seventeen magazine. From there, her career flourished along with her social media presence.
As of today, the 34 year old blogger and fashion icon has amassed 817k of devoted followers and has been on the face of several prominent magazines like Cosmopolitan. Bringing her Arab voice to the fashion industry, she not only styles her own shoots but managed to launch a collection of thigh high boots for women with wider upper thighs to show that fashion should and is for everyone.
Whether its Amin’s initiative “Ana Ghaliah” or Aboulhosn’s attempts at making fashion a universal language, each model is slowly changing the International fashion world.