Out of all the accounts on Instagram, Nalisa Alia Amin’s a definite must-follow if you’re looking for someone with aspirations that extend beyond just fashion and body positivity. A plus-size fashion model, Amin has become an inspiration to many for embodying power, strength, beauty. While her 18.3k followers on Instagram enjoy a snapshot of her day-to-day life, outfit ideas, and messages of empowerment, she also brings to light more serious and important issues beyond body positivity, such as advocating against sexual harassment in any form (remember that time when certain schools enforced period spot checks in the name of religion and discipline?).
Besides preaching these vital messages and issues in Malaysia, she encourages authentic discussions and acceptance of relatable vulnerabilities of being human. Beyond her role of surfacing these—oftentimes controversial, but immensely important—discussions, she has also proven to have an expressive and distinct fashion style that’s showcased not only through her eye of mixing and matching clothes, but also through her ever-changing hairstyles and make-up!
With so many topics that we too resonate highly with, we had a quick chat with Nalisa Amin to discuss body positivity in Malaysia (specifically within the local fashion industry), and how that has impacted her personal style.
Let’s start off easy. How would you best describe your style?
“My style depends on my mood actually. Most of the time, I’ve very tomboyish with baggy clothes and a crop top. On special occasions, I’m glamourous with slinky dresses and prints. On casual days, I’m super relaxed in linen wear and oversized jackets. I don’t like sticking to just one style so I try to jazz it up once in a while. Fashion is too fun to only stick to one specific style.”
Body positivity has (thankfully) catapulted into a large global movement, where many have taken on their own interpretation of its definition. So, what does body positivity mean to you?
“To me, body positivity simply means body acceptance. It doesn’t matter if you love your body or you’re neutral about it, so long as you don’t spend hours hating, hiding, and nit-picking it.”
And how do you think fashion plays into that?
“Fashion is a double-edged sword when it comes to its role in body positivity. On one hand, it was the fashion industry that dismissed the idea of displaying different body types for the longest time, and on the other hand, it was fashion that opened the doors to the fact that there are different body types and beauty out there. Fashion is about storytelling through clothing and the industry used the media to portray their story to the masses. The question is: If fashion only celebrates one specific body type, then is it successful storytelling?”
Progress happens. But in Malaysia, what do you think is lacking when it comes to championing and actualising body positivity as a whole?
“Inconsistent inclusivity. There was a period of time where Malaysian fashion brands jumped into the ‘body positivity’ and ‘diverse’ bandwagon, which was amazing. Unfortunately, a lot of brands just see it as a marketing trend instead of something to be shown consistently in campaigns and catalogues. Inclusivity and diverse body types aren’t just a trend. There are actual people of different body types that like to purchase the products and to be represented.”
What more do you think Malaysian brands can do in regards to this?
“Just be consistent to include more models of different body types and have designs that complement various body types instead of just one. Clothes should fit their customers, not the other way round.”
You are very vocal on topics like self-love and body confidence on your Instagram. How do you think that played into your own personal style?
“It played a lot into my current style. Back when I was very insecure of my body, I used to wear only loose outfits that would cover all parts of my body, and I’d wear layers to not show any skin, especially my arms and legs. Now that I’ve found love for myself, I wear whatever I like without any worries. I still love wearing loose clothing but it’s purely for comfort and not because I’m feeding into my insecurity.”
Who inspires you when it comes to fashion?
“Since my style is dependant on my mood, my fashion inspirations are all over the place. I love to style myself in different eras, from the ’70s till the ’00s but if I have to name people, then it’d be Rihanna for being the fashion chameleon that she is. There’s also Mary-Kate Olsen, for introducing the bohemian and grunge combo when preppy was considered stylish, and Prince, for being unapologetic on dressing androgynous and glamourous.”
What are your personal favourite fashion trends?
“I would like to thank the fashion gods for bringing high-rise pants back into fashion because I would be miserable if low-rise and mid-rise pants are the only options. Those pants are not comfortable at all! In addition, I love that sneakers and boots are now trendier than ever because I can’t stand wearing heels that are three inches (or higher) for a long period of time. This is the curse of having flat feet. Since I don’t have a specific style, I’d say the only thing that’s consistent in my wardrobe is the colour black, because if everything fails, an all-black outfit will never be out of style.”
The fashion industry tends to cater to slimmer figures. Oftentimes, curvier girls may find themselves a bit lost on how to dress, so what are your styling tips for curvier women?
“Wear whatever that makes you feel confident and sexy. I try not to give out too many tips on how to dress because everyone is different but I would definitely encourage curvier girls to show off those curves instead of hiding them. Get clothes that compliment your body instead of hiding it. If you like that bodycon dress, get it. If you want a more ‘hourglass shape’, there’s always shapewear.”
What are three local fashion brands you would recommend?
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Finally, it’s normal for everyone to have days where we look in the mirror and not like what we see—what would you say to them on those days?
“You’re not alone for feeling unhappy with your body and it’s okay. Just don’t spend time punishing your body for existing. Our bodies have done so much for us to survive and move. We might not know when our bodies will give up on us. Our bodies are our own temples and we are our bodies’ own god/goddess, so give it the appreciation it deserves. If you want to change your body—be it to lose weight or plastic surgery—just make sure it comes from a place of love, and not to punish it.”
Follow Nalisa Amin on Instagram at @nalisaliamin.
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