Plus-size modeling in Greece
Dear Nasiana, first of all, welcome to Ecce Homo’s fashion blog and thank you very much for agreeing to this interview! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Nasiana and it is a combination of two popular greek names, Athanasia and Ioanna. I am 25 years old, born and raised in Marousi, Athens, but the last 7 years I live in Thessaloniki, the co-capital of Greece in the North as I came here to study Journalism and Media at the Aristotle University. In June 2021, I launched my own brand trading exclusively plus-size swimwear and underwear, the Boss Babe, and this has been my main preoccupation ever since.
Let me share with our readers the fact that we are particularly excited for this interview as it also marks in a way your comeback to Ecce Homo since you were one of our first models and you have been by our side all this time. How did you get in contact with Ecce Homo to begin with? What did make you say yes to a collaboration with a queer underwear startup back then? Do you have any tips in store for us?
My first ever contact with Ecce Homo was via an Instagram story. What caught my eye was the products themselves and the fact that you offer them in a really wide range of sizes. That’s when I made my first of many orders, during the lockdown, if I can recall correctly. Panos and Stefanos [Ecce Homo's co-owners] kindly offered to deliver my order themselves to my door since my home is located close to your offices. Back then I was just starting to get more involved with Instagram, I texted the guys if they were up for a collaboration, they were indeed, and the rest is histoty! Our first encounter! During this meeting, both Stefanos and Panos explained to me their vision and their rationale behind a queer brand and, truth be told, I find it very progressive by the standards of Greece, let alone those of the closed society of Thessaloniki. That was the beginning of a partnership that grew beyond the initial giveaway deal we agreed upon into a friendship, and soon after some photo shootings came along that were once in a lifetime experience for me! What I love about Ecce Homo is the dedication of the team to their initial vision. You could definitely make some moves that would render the brand more commercially successful, yet these would have somewhat compromised Ecce Homo’s unique character.
You are a fierce supporter of the body positivity movement in fashion both via your public presence and your quite active social media. What does body positivity mean to you? What is your opinion on greek fashion regarding the inclusivity of diverse body types? Under which conditions is this very inclusivity granted and what kind of exclusions it produces in the process? Are we speaking of a substantial inclusion or is it an opportunistic attempt by the fashion industry to capitalize on a diversity that has been utterly invisibilized until recently?
For me body positivity is all about the absence of any form of discrimination and bullying on the basis of one’s body type or appearance in general. One shouldn’t care about one’s personal choices, external appearance, or any specific trait one has! If each and every one of us takes a good look at oneself, I can guarantee that things will be different. The greek plus-size fashion is an open wound! HAHA! To be fair, there has been quite a progress the past few years, but we still have a long way to go. It’s unbelievable that so many brands promote themselves as self-proclaimed plus-size brands when, at the same time, they trade clothes only up to 3XL size! It is equally frustrating that plus-size brands do not hire plus-size models to market their products! Only a handful of brands engage in real inclusion. The vast majority has realized that there is a margin of profit in the plus-size market -and in ‘diversity’ in general- and they want a piece of that pie the easy way without a serious effort. I believe that there are still many lessons to be learnt regarding this issue by all of us, including myself, if only we’d approach it with a more open mind.
Nasiana, you are a plus-size model and an entrepreneur with her own plus-size swimwear and underwear brand. You would care to share with us your experience in the fashion world? What challenges and obstacle have you encountered as a plus-size woman in our heteropatriarchal society and in the extremely competitive fashion market that tends to mirror and reproduce the hegemonic notions of femininity and embodiment?
I wouldn’t characterize myself in any way as a plus-size model! HAHA! But I prefer an expression of one of my girlfriends, ‘doing plus-size stuff’! The plus-size industry is no different from the rest of the fashion world. One can find almost any kind of people and of sorts of behaviors. Personally, I feel lucky because I rarely find myself in any bad circumstances as plus-size brand owner. When it comes to the challenges I face as a plus-size women, I guess these are more or less the same ones any woman faces apart from two additional ones. The first one is the discrimination against a fat body, and the second one is the fetishization of the very same fat body. There are many people out there with a fetish for plus-size women, and up to a certain point, this is totally cool for me as long as there is a mutual consent. However, usually the case is the fetishization of the whole person. I wouldn’t like it if one showed interest in me only because I am fat. I want people to be interested in me because of me as whole! Regarding the fashion industry, the truth is that I am not facing any challenges just because I stopped ‘looking’ for them long ago. I focus on the bright side of things. I try to focus on the progress that has been made even though these steps are few. I also try to discover brands, like Ecce Homo and Boss Babe! HAHA! These brands attempt not only to offer something unique to each customer, but also to break any social stereotypes via their products and their marketing.
Would you like to share with us your future plans? What are we to expect from Nasiana the following year? And finally, would you care to send a message to all those followers, friends, and customers of yours among whom many young plus-size persons who face fatphobia and sexism on a daily basis and perhaps they dream of a place in the fashion world?
I am person with grounded dreams! HAHA! One of the things that I have in store and about which I am thrilled is the launching of Boss Babe’s e-shop. It may not sound like much of a plan but it is something that I work on for quite some time now as I wanted to lay first strong foundations for my brand. A favorite motto of mine is ‘love yourself cause no one else will do it for you’. Loving oneself is the most important thing and I know that it is easier said than done. At the same time, I am well aware of the fact that one is one’s own worst enemy, but when you get there, everything will seem much easier, I promise! I firmly believe that both sexism and fatphobia, discrimination in general, will not go away any time soon, and that’s why it is up to each of us to decide how to best tackle them and how much power they would have over us. Regarding a piece of advice to young persons who dream of a career in fashion, I would say this: nothing is beyond your reach, everything is possible! One can do anything as long as one believes in it and wants it with their whole heart. As I said above, we should be the first ones to take a good look at ourselves, how to improve ourselves, and then judge the others.