BRITAIN’S only Asian plus-size model has said there is a real danger of “larger”women being pushed to the fringes of society and fashion because they are not seen as “normal”.
Bishamber Das, a 15-stone freelance model who wears an 18 dress size, also hit back at critics who claim that she is “normalising obesity”.
The 28-year-old from Derby works full-time as a social care worker and magistrate. She won the title of Miss Photogenic at the Miss India Europe beauty pageant last year.
She has modelled for leading plus-size labels and magazines including BGP, Yours Clothing, Simply Be and the clothing line of Gemma Collins from ITV show The Only Way is Essex. Das, who faced a battle with her weight during her teenage years when she was 21 stone, recently started her own Body Confidence Classes which she plans to take worldwide later this year.
“I’m not going to say what’s healthy and what’s not,” she told Eastern Eye.
“I have been overweight and I know how that made me feel. No one should feel like they are not worth anything.
“If you don’t normalise plus-size girls, you carry on hating them. You’re going to push that person further and further and they will get bigger.”
One of Das’s sessions gives participants the chance to have studio experience, with photo shoots, taking part in a catwalk, make-up sessions, and interaction with speakers including female film-makers, models and TV presenters.
“I have seen my fan-following rise to over 30,000 on my social media, and lots of people contact and share their stories with me. I feel privileged that they are sharing their lives like this. These classes give them the chance to engage with something,” she said.
Das will will be strutting her stuff at the UK’s first Curvy Convention. Taking place on May 15, she will also take to the fashion show catwalk as part of the event which celebrates women’s “fuller figures”. The convention will play host to a range of plussize designers, retailers, workshops and beauty treatments.
“After the beauty pageant, people think loads of opportunities will open up for you, but you have to really go out and grab them,” said Das.
“When it came to breaking into that niche plus-size market, for example in the Asian community in magazines, nobody is interested. I felt I wasn’t accepted. Instead my work appeared in Western magazines.
“Even if you go to any Asian shops and ask, ‘I like that lehnga, have you got it in my size?’ they won’t have it.”
Das went to India last month to meet music and film directors. She has been offered roles in Punjabi movies but said that they always placed one condition – she had to lose weight. “It’s something that’s really difficult to change,” Das said.
“Times are moving on though; in the United Kingdom the average size of a women is now size 14.
“India is also a country moving forward in terms of their own attitudes to size, because the ladies there are getting bigger too.”