[B]ack in December 2016, Emily Bador broke the modelling mould on Instagram, and posted an honest, unedited, un-romanticised photo. Emphasising the importance of body positivity, she smashed stereotypes of models by showing imperfections and issues: after the start of a successful career, Emily took time out after realising how unhealthy her relationship with herself had before. Focusing on the significance of self care, and the need to celebrate diversity in the world of fashion, she took to social media to give unfiltered intimate advice to women everywhere: “you are more than your appearance, you are strong and resilient and you are beautiful no matter what” she tells her followers.
At just 20, Emily has an Insta following of 150K and has become a role model of feminism and an advocate of improving self esteem. Using her platform to do good, she’s political, personal and powerful in her posts, and she’s just as dynamic in her fashion career as she is in her activism. Discussing how social media can change the world, Emily Bador tells us the power of the platform and where we have to go from now…
How did you get into modelling?
I worked as a hold model, then a little bit freelance when my lovely booker found me on Facebook. And it’s been almost four years since then.
What do you think needs to change in the fashion industry?
So much. Diversity is obviously a very important one to me. Everyone should be able to see themselves being celebrated in some way or another in the media! Representation is key. But also a move towards sustainability, ethically made items (both for the workers and ecologically) is very important and close to my heart too.
i'm gonna be honest, the industry needs to change. man oh man i'm tired of it. on the left is july 2015, my lowest weight. i can't tell you how much i weighed but i can tell you i was size 4/6 and my waist only measured 23 inches. i can also tell you i thought i was fat. i've always had a few body image issues but since becoming a model, they've skyrocketed. at work, i've always felt like i didn't belong, i've always been short, and mixed race. i'd been modelling for just over a year, and going to castings made me feel super insecure. every time i didn't get a call back from my casting i'd start to wonder why. was i too fat? during 2015, i became obsessive with my measurements and clothes sizes. i exercised daily and i would never even look at any carbs let alone eat them. it started making me physically sick, dizzy, exhausted, etc. i ended up getting to a point where i'd have daily panic attacks about getting dressed, and couldn't even leave my bed in fear of catching my reflection in the mirror. at this time, i also started getting the most work i've ever had and travelling all over world. which, instilled in me "the thinner i am, the more work i'm gonna get". my hatred for myself became so overwhelming i knew something had to change, i took some time out and finally got working on loving myself. and today, for the first time in a long time, i felt good about myself this morning. i struggle with getting dressed sometimes, catching my reflection can occasionally hurt still and i have panic attacks now and again but i am getting there. sometimes i forget that self love is a journey. we have to call on this system to change. we need diversity. all bodies, differently abled, shaped, coloured, sized, gendered and aged. diversity is so important. representation is so important. i'm sick and tired of seeing amazing, talented, beautiful women hate themselves because they don't look like that VS model or whatever. too many young women suffer from mental health issues which stem from the pressure of today's media. ✨you are more than your appearance, you are strong and resilient and you are beautiful no matter what and i really hope you remember that✨
How does it feel to have so many people looking up to you on social media?
It feels terrifying. I’m gonna be honest, a lot of the time it’s too much! I didn’t mean to get here, it was never a plan. And I’m only 20, so to have people my own age and older than me look up to me puts a lot of pressure on. However, I think if you have a platform you have some sort of responsibility.
Who is your own muse?
My little sister!
Since you became more open on Instagram have you found your social psyche has changed? How does digital culture influence you now?
Digital culture is so important. You can’t escape it nowadays. The first social media platform I connected with was Tumblr, I learnt so much, connected with people all across the globe, it really taught me a lot. Now, obviously I’m on Instagram, where there’s a whole community – I’m constantly learning. And Facebook groups too, educational groups and places to feel part of a community. Being able to connect with people you might not have met otherwise is an incredible thing.
Do you believe that social media can affect social change?
100%. Many people voicing their opinion can create a big change. I think brands are already starting to take notice.
Do you think fashion is becoming more inclusive and open now because of the rise of Instagram?
Yes! Ten years ago, I could have never been in the position I am in now. My booker found me on Facebook and more and more people are getting signed because of social media. It’s allowing people who aren’t your “typical model” to be seen. It allows the public to almost “choose” their own “celebrity’s” in a way – if that makes sense? It gives people the opportunity of support people who might not have been in a position to have had a platform before. It shows brands what we’re really interested in.
Who are your must follows for an empowered Instagram?
In three words: how does it feel to be a woman in the creative industry right now?
Empowering, challenging, exciting.
What’s next for you?
Focusing on myself, my personal growth, and maybe an exciting project or two.
Follow Emily Bador on Instagram here and check out the shoot in full in the gallery below.