Alia Soraya Feizal is a photographer and editor-in-chief of Mula Zine, and she is based in both Kuala Lumpur and London. She captures women of color from all over the many diasporas in a natural yet dreamy aesthetic, allowing their true and unapologetic self to shine beyond the photo. You can follow her and find her work here. We spoke with her about a recent shoot, her inspiration for it, and why real plus-size representation matters.
What is the title of this series?
It’s 3B: an editorial that focuses on big and beautiful, bold and brave, booty and busty.
Why did you want to do this shoot in particular?
I’m tired of seeing non plus-size women portraying actual plus-size women in advertisements. Growing up as a plus-sized girl, I never thought working out made me happy. It made me feel healthier yes, but not happy. Why? Because I’ve always felt like I needed to be someone else, someone who looks nothing like me. What about the plus size people who do work out but aren’t seen or celebrated for who they are?
Are we not conforming to the changes that society prescribes to us? As much as I hate to say that being thick is the new thin, I am so proud of it. It represents a woman who has never clutched the limelight and had always been told how to look.
As such, I want to channel that aesthetic through the combination of athleisure attire and swimwear, with inspirations from yoga/aerobic positions, to shed light on the fact that women who are big and beautiful don’t conform to stereotypes; we are confident, assertive, and healthy. Just like anyone else. And we should never have to feel uncomfortable in our own bodies.
What was your inspiration for this shoot?
Models like Naomi Shimada, Ashley Graham, Paloma Elsesser, @mynamesdiana, Barbie Ferreira… these women who I wish I could also call friends.
But as friends, Laoise O’ Reilly, Shazlin Shaharudin, Nalisa Alia Amin, Anne and Hafizah Habshee. There’s no one else I’d rather do this project with. You are my inspiration and motivation to decolonize the system.
How do you want this shoot to impact, change, or decolonize the media?
Personally, I don’t think I have to change much because we’re in a new wave of representation on body image and they’re championing it. The models I mentioned as inspirations are advocates that influence not only an individual like myself who’s a general follower of their Instagram but also have an impact towards the fashion industry in regards to their casting choices for runway models. I also feel like the local designers in my country should have more size ranges up to UK 24 and above so women would feel confident about themselves.
We need to shred the thought of plus size is only up to UK 18. However, in regards to my editorial, I’d like to educate them by saying we’re quite flexible. We’re able to do what you do. We’re able. We workout, not only to stay fit but to be happy. In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy.” I didn’t want my models to feel ashamed of doing squats or lunges, or even yoga movements, that seemed hard, but they did it anyway. Definitely, as a plus size girl, we were always the last to be picked because people always assume we weren’t capable enough but in reality, we can.