SJGC alumna Aiyana Ishmael recently reported on plus-size alternatives to celebrity style in her Teen Vogue story “I Dressed Like Bella Hadid for a Week to Find the Best Plus-Size Alternatives.” The piece has received widespread acclaim across social media and within the industry for its ingenuity and authentic voice on the marginalization of plus-sized and Black women in fashion.
“I wanted to do this story because I was thinking back to the era of fashion magazines when I was younger where there was a lot of content about editors dressing like celebrities and comparing it to their personal style. I was feeling very nostalgic so I half-jokingly asked my editor, ‘Will you let me write about dressing like Bella Hadid for a week?,’” Ishmael says.
Aside from its casual approach, the piece addressed how the lens of thinness in fashion often exiles women of color and plus-sized women. “Of course, for me, recreating celebrity outfits are different, because I’ve only ever seen thin and white editors who recreated the outfits. It honestly was exciting for me to tackle the idea because I’m obviously plus-size and Black.”
Ishmael’s posts of the article on Twitter and Instagram have amassed over 55.9k and 9.9k likes, respectively. The viral reporting has received praise from pop superstar Lizzo and even supermodel Bella Hadid (dubbed the world’s most powerful dresser) herself. “When I saw that she actually saw it, I was happy because the whole goal was for her to have a response whether it was good, funny, or bad. We really are just taking her personal style and trying to mimic it on a plus-size body.”
The 24-year-old is no stranger to her storytelling being in the spotlight as she was a top 10 winner in the sports writing competition for the 2020 Hearst Journalism Awards, a 2021 Region 3 Mark of Excellence for Best Use of Multimedia, and the former editor-in-chief of Journey Magazine. However, she says amplifying the conversation of plus-sized fashion on a platform like Teen Vogue is a different experience.
“Everyone was excited about the story being told because it’s not something being told often. I received a lot of positive responses about how this piece was even a throwback to what people originally loved about fashion magazines,” she says.
The next steps for her coverage? Continuing the catalytic reporting she loves. “There’s much to be discovered and explored within fashion journalism. My goal is to continue to find unique angles, investigative niches and fun takes.”