As we currently find ourselves - tight in the sweaty clasp of social media - and all it’s mundanities and notifications and selfies, there are a few people using social platforms for the greater good. One of those people is Emily Bador. Having modeled for the likes of Goodhood, Bella Freud, Nylon Japan, Tatler and Urban Outfitters, you probably recognise Emily’s freckled face and cropped fringe from your Instagram feed already. Her half Malaysian, half British heritage mean Emily’s distinctive looks have garnered a big fanbase. However, if you don’t follow Emily’s personal account, which you should - now - you might not be aware of Emily’s story. Having grown disenfranchised with the fashion industry, tired of the focus forever being on how she looked and not how she felt or what she thought, Emily started to candidly document her struggles. Perfectionism and body dysmorphia have long been loaded topics in terms of the fashion industry. In recent years, women have been calling out the industry more and more for perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards through photoshopping, airbrushing and via the casting of underweight, actually rather ill, models. Emily, who began modelling at the age of 17 is no stranger to the booker’s critical eye, or the photographer’s heavy handed post-production. Instead of sitting mute and letting the industry carry on as is, Emily’s taken a stand.
Unwittingly, Emily has quickly become an influential figure online. Not taking her position for granted, she utilises her engaged following and large audience to spread inspiring messages to her fanbase. A self declared "intersectional feminist” and advocate for "body positivity," Emily is on a mission. Scattered in between shoots from the pages of magazines, are photographs taken by Emily herself on her iPhone. The images, un-retouched, in natural daylight and from frank angles are brave, refreshing and profoundly important. Instead, in what can be described as a “stretch marks and all” depiction, Emily publishes photos which show her in a true light. Bravely releasing before and after photos detailing the effects of photoshopping, and photos comparing her previous weight in 2015 to now, Emily creates a space for open dialogue about the issues surrounding the fashion industry and its obsession with weight.
Through streams of consciousness, that acknowledge her ever present fears, doubts and insecurities, Emily has opened a door and is refusing to close it. The pressures we all face, to be better versions of ourselves online, is something the majority of young women can relate too. The importance of people like Emily, shaking things up from the inside, are critical. In Emily’s own words: “I want to see different body shapes; fat rolls, squishy bellies, big thighs and I also wanna see that body hair, on your face, armpits, belly and breasts. I want to see different skin colours, and I want to see acne and eczema and shit like that too.” With the long term aim that girls like her younger sister should have alternative beauty role models. Emily’s fighting hard for a more honest representation of women online - and winning.
In her spare time, Emily also likes to make other people feel pretty, and is studying as an apprentice barber in her native town, Brighton. When she’s not on set, you’ll most likely find her in and around Brighton, with her dog Moxa, eyeing up other people’s dogs or reading some Naomi Wolf. In short - can we be friends?
Words by Jamila Prowse