Welcome back to the Learning Curve, a monthly column where we unpack the complicated experience of accepting your own body in a world that doesn’t seem to want you to. This month, news editor Nicola Dall’Asen interviews TikTok personality Remi Bader about how being plus-size on the internet is the ultimate double-edged sword.
Zara. Urban Outfitters. Abercrombie. Aerie… No matter how size-inclusive they claim to be, no fast-fashion brand has been safe from the criticisms of TikTok-personality-slash-curve-model Remi Bader in the past two years. The first time she donned some ill-fitting clothing on the app for a “realistic clothing haul” in the fall of 2020, she had no clue the video format would become her signature, let alone one that would propel her to internet celebrity status, complete with millions of social media followers, brand deals, headlines aplenty – and, subsequently, a world of hurt.
“What we see on social media isn’t always true,” Bader said about the average TikTok clothing haul in that first video. “There is no way that everything in that package looks amazing… We’re not showing everyone the full story.” That’s been the motivation behind the hundreds of haul videos Bader has posted since. The videos feature in equal measure satisfyingly snug pairs of pants and dresses cinched in all the right places alongside shorts that eat crotches alive and bra cups that spilleth over on her size 14/16 body.
Bader is fully aware that it’s not an original concept, but it is one that plus-size people especially can relate to on a painful level and obviously one that still needs to be brought to the attention of fashion brands. “[My hauls are] not making fun of myself, but it’s not blaming myself fully for [the faults of] these brands,” Bader tells Allure. “They either don’t know how to create these [larger] sizes or don’t care and don’t put the effort into it.” The primary thing she wanted to achieve when she started all of this, she adds, was simply to poke some fun at the absurdity that is the plus-size experience. “We should just be able to wear these clothes. Why is it so hard?”
For this, she was instantly labeled a face of the internet’s plus-size community. Not long after her TikToks started gaining traction, Bader’s face was plastered across publications, podcasts, and TV shows including People, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, On Air With Ryan Seacrest, E! News, Good Morning America, and plenty of others, all of which waxed poetic about her relatability and vulnerability. Eventually, Bader also formed a partnership with Aerie’s #BeReal campaign and another with Victoria’s Secret, for which she served as an ambassador and a “plus-size consultant” tasked with trying on and providing feedback on new items.
Content creators and influencers such as Bader need exposure and money, often from brand deals, to support themselves and continue creating content, and not all brand partnerships are inherently bad when handled correctly. But in March of 2022, when she announced a collaboration with Revolve — a brand with a lack of plus-size options and one that Bader has criticized heavily in the past — the same internet that put Bader on a pedestal suddenly turned against her.