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.”