Mini Mangat

Mini Mangat

Mini Mangat on her love for fashion, specifically plus size, Asian, 40+

My name is Mini Mangat, I am a 42 year old British Indian woman and I live with my husband and two young children in Warwickshire. My professional background is in Healthcare Management and I have a keen interest in politics, and I campaign on local issues.
However, my biggest love is fashion! I like to explore different styles in plus-size clothing and have long been searching for a role model or someone that remotely represents me in the modelling industry and on the mainstream catwalks. I see no one who represents me; I seldom see young South-Asian woman in the mainstream, but I am yet to see a brown plus size model in her 40’s! I have often wondered why this is, could it be cultural, racial, age, or could it be a combination?
I have been plus-size for most of my adult life, I find culturally that being a plus-size woman of Indian origin is often a taboo subject. I have wanted to speak out about this topic for a while, as I feel it’s necessary - I’m sure there are other women out there who will relate, and it’s so important to have a voice! I am really interested in fashion and particularly passionate about championing the brown plus size woman and breaking down barriers for South Asian plus size women... I don’t think I’ve seen any plus size South Asian woman speak out about being bigger or anyone saying that it’s ok to be brown, plus size, over 40 and to enjoy fashion!
Culturally - and probably in society as a whole - there have been times in my life where I have been made to feel as though I am inferior, not only due to my colour but because of my size. Not so much anymore though! Over the years I’ve gained confidence, learning to own myself and just be me. I am proud to be of Indian origin and I want to celebrate who I am! I shouldn’t have to feel like hiding away in dark black clothes, feeling embarrassed because I’m plus size. Things need to change, South-Asian plus size women in their 40’s need inspiration and empowerment! They need role models and representation!
Everyone can see that I am plus-sized, which generally comes with negative connotations but I want to talk about embracing it! Sure enough, in my culture stripping down to underwear or sexy poses with your legs wide open isn’t really the done thing. Why is the industry so sexualised? I think celebrities such as the ‘Kardashians’ have been instrumental in creating such narratives. If I was a model in the fashion industry, why should I have to pose in such a way? Is this another reason why I don’t see myself, a South Asian 42 year old woman, represented in the plus-size fashion mainstream arena?
In the UK, plus size fashion has developed significantly over the past 20 years but it seems that the plus-size modelling industry continue to forget to look through their inclusion, equality and diversity lens to ensure representation of someone like me. Asian fashion platforms such as ‘Asiana’ are great for Asian fashion, although they too can be guilty of the underrepresentation of plus size women. Whilst most Asian fashion brands say their products are made to measure you rarely see any plus size women modelling Asian fashion. For some reason the mainstream fashion brands think that it’s enough, and that Asian women are catered for because they have Asian fashion platforms such as Asiana. It really isn’t enough. I want to see people like me across the fashion industry – Asian and mainstream.
Which leads me to another disappointing thought - that Asian fashion brands have always been a segregated market, separate from mainstream fashion. What could the reasons be for this lack of integration?
I have approached plus-size clothing brands, ‘In the Style’ and ‘Boohoo’, to explore and discuss the lack of South Asian plus size women represented in their clothing brands and debate this topic with the vision of making a change… unfortunately I have not heard back from them.
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