How did you start fashion blogging?
I started blogging while I was in university, it was more of a personal diary and slowly evolved into a fashion blog thanks to influence of some newly discovered plus size fashion blogs like Blog to be Alive and Blog de Big Beauty. My readers responded the most to my outfit posts so they became a regular feature.
How does Middle Eastern culture affect your personal style?
I don’t really feel like it does, I think my love for colour, bold prints and all things bohemian comes from my Indian roots. The Middle Eastern culture is quite conservative, and that definitely is not me. However, I am a fan of gold and a bit of bling, that’s definitely a Middle Eastern influence!
How does shopping for plus size clothes in the Middle East compare to other places in the world?
If you’re on the smaller end of the plus size category (size 14 to 20 UK), shopping in Dubai is awesome. There’s a lot of choice as most of the brand available here are from the UK and usually go up to a size 20 UK. If you’re larger than a size 20 UK, Dubai has a few plus size dedicated brands such as Yours Clothing, Marina Rinaldi, Evans and Punta Roma. You can also find plus size lines in some New Look, Matalan, H & M, Splash and Forever 21 stores. I can’t really compare it to anywhere else, but I think you can have a decent plus size shopping experience in Dubai. The brands here aren’t as trendy as I would like them to be, I still rely a lot on online shopping.
What is your experience of being plus size in the Middle East? How do men and women respond to you?
I was born and raised in Dubai, and any fat shaming or negative experiences related to my size have happened with people from my own culture (Indian). In general, I feel like there is less judgment about being plus size here, you are considered attractive and respected by men and women. But I have seen my Middle Eastern friends being subjected to similar fat shaming experiences by their family, as I have in the past.
What do you love the most about fashion?
I love how fashion makes me feel. I think fashion is a great tool for creativity, self expression and self love. When I'm having a bad day, wearing an outfit that makes me feel awesome has such a positive impact on my mood, it's so much more than just clothes, it's my way of taking care of myself.
Who is your favorite plus size designer?
My favorite plus size designer is Tadashi Shoji, he creates the most beautiful gowns for curves. I dream of wearing his designs for my wedding one day!
What has been your most popular post thus far?
he most popular post on my blog is Being The Fat Daughter. That post came from a place of shame and hurt, and I wrote it with intentions to vent and find comfort. I did not expect it to have such an impact on so many other women, women of all sizes and sizes. I get emails or comments related to it everyday. I’ve also noticed that a lot of people come to that post when they search for things like:
“my family picks on me because of my weight”
“my mother is ashamed of me for being fat”
“am I wrong to tell my daughter she’s fat”
“I hate my fat daughter”
“being the fat sister”
“why does my mom think I’m fat”
It’s painful to see such sad search terms show up, but I’m glad they find my post, at least they know they are not alone.
Who has been the most influential plus size person in your life?
I love Mia Tyler! I was watching TV and an E! Hollywood story about her came on, I had never heard about her before but I was so fascinated and captivated with how bad ass she was on the runways. Googling her led to my discovery of plus size fashion and fat acceptance blogs, so I definitely owe my blogging career and self acceptance journey to her.
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MERRY-JO LEVERS is a mother, wife, PhD student and nurse extraordinaire. She is a Canadian currently living in Doha, Qatar and travels whenever the opportunity presents itself. Living life as a complicated extroverted introvert, Merry-Jo seeks the best in people, culture, and scholarship. Believing in the fierceness of body positivity, Merry-Jo surrounds herself with strong, independently minded people who enjoy challenging the status quo. Her motto is work hard and play harder.