Our Rachel interviews Bishamber Das
the first British Asian plus size model
First things first. Can you tell us your journey from magistrate to model.
I am the oldest off 4 siblings; my mother came to the UK from Punjab India over 30 years ago and met my dad who had moved to the UK from Malaysia. Neither of my parents were highly educated but worked very hard to make sure their children were provided with everything we needed. They put a lot of emphasis on education, I remember my mum telling me she did not want us (me and my siblings) to struggle like she did and felt the only way to a comfortable life was through a good education. At school I really struggled, I was never the academic type. I would find it hard to concentrate and even do the basics at times.
As time went on I learnt to cope and just get on with things. I did well enough and got into university. I studied Law and Criminology and passed with flying colours. It was only in my final year when my lecturer picked up on the fact that I might be dyslexic. I got myself tested and was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia. Regardless of how hard things were I always learnt to keep fighting and not stop till I am were I want to be.
That is when I applied for a position of a magistrate; I was appointed by the home sectary at the age of 21 years old making me the first youngest Asian magistrate. The same passion and determination has fuelled my career as a model, when the world laughed at me for being different I found the courage to stand for what I believed in and today I stand as the first British Asian plus size model.
Being the first Asian plus size model in the UK, what does this mean to you on a personal level?
Being the first British Asian plus size model is a title I am so proud off. It's a vision I had 2 years ago, many laughed at the idea and even more laughed at my size, it gives me great pleasure knowing how beautifully I have proved everyone wrong. This journey has made me realise what my real purpose in life is. All my life I grew up hating my body. I have now come to realise that my imperfections are my perfections and I am proud of it.
Congratulations on winning best model at the plus size awards, the likes of Tess Holliday and Hayley Hasselhoff were also in this catergory. How did it feel to win?
Thank you! It was an amazing feeling when I won I literally had to hold my tears back! I respect these women for their contribution in the plus size world and it feels good to be recognised in the same category. I owe this award to all my supporters; in India people were shocked initially when they saw a woman of my size modelling. Through my campaign I have been able to educate people's perceptions of beauty and it's those people who voted for me and showed me so much love and support. It felt so good for my hard work to be recognised by an award and even better for this to come to a British model.
What are your views on MOD as an organisation? Do you think the fashion industry need to wake up to the idea of diversity?
I am so proud of the work MOD has been doing over the years. I can't express how important awareness on this topic is. I just hope more people come forward and support this too.
Why do you think diversity is important in fashion?
There is beauty in our differences and each one of us should be open to things that set us apart. As public figures in the modelling world we forget how fortunate we are to inspire and influence thousands of people. We learn about each other's cultures and it allows others to relate to us. The plus size industry is a positive movement; it's not tied down to a particular nation or sect of people. Plus size men and women come in all shapes, colours, sizes and so should the models to represent this.
You have great style what are your top tips for curvy dressing?
Firstly it's so important to be confident, have the belief that whatever you will wear you will be a queen in! Wear what you want! Do what you got to! So often we are told how to dress or look, I am done with seeking validation from others for my own self-worth. Don't be scared to experiment with your look, You ll be surprised to see that many things can look good on you if you give them the chance. They do say the best things happen when you're out of your comfort zone =)
What advice would you give to women who are struggling with there own body image?
We all have our inner thoughts and at times can be our own biggest critics, instead of telling yourself all the things you hate about yourself, think of the things you like. We should appreciate that we probably are in a more fortunate position than many. So love yourself and the life you have, we all have a purpose, spread the joy.
You have had major success in a short space of time, what can we see from you in the future?
I am so excited about the future, I recently signed to GC Models am really looking forward to working in collaboration with them, apart from modelling I've been working hard towards my own clothing line, every woman has the right to feel sexy and classy and thats exactly what I am aiming to give to the world ??