In less than a year, Remi Bader has amassed more than 1.4 million followers on TikTok. The 26-year-old rose to popularity on the platform by sharing “realistic clothing hauls,” where she gives her authentic (and often hilarious) take on how clothing from different brands fits a curvy body.
“The reason that I branded my videos 'realistic clothing hauls' was because I realized at the time when I started doing TikTok, no one's putting the bad stuff on social media," Bader told me on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna. "No matter what the platform is, we're all showing what's good, what's beautiful, what's edited, and we're not showing the real stuff.”
And the “real stuff” Bader shares goes beyond shopping. She talks about her mental health struggles, vulnerability and body image issues, echoing the kind of coverage her followers are thirsty for, too.
“I remember the first video I did about being anxious, and about mental health. I was like, should I post this? Is this too weird? It has nothing to do with my brand. And then I was like, my brand is me. People are following me for me. So if they don't like what I have to say they can unfollow me. And you know, people really liked the serious side to me also. ... I have my fun, realistic hauls and I have my, you know, honest videos about how I'm struggling with anxiety one day and struggling with binge eating the next day.”
The New York City-based model hopes to be inspiring and relatable to others who face similar struggles.
"There are so many people out there that have been looking on social media for years, and have not been able to find anyone that looks like them or talks like them or is honest and can relate to them," Bader said. "It's a beautiful thing to be curvy; I always have been. And I think that just finding a community and finding people that relate to each other is the only thing that can really help you in the best way, especially as a younger person.
"And I think that's why TikTok is the best platform for it," she continued, "because there's so many younger people on the platform. And, you know, they see the silly videos, but then when I come up on their feed, I want to help them I want it to be a role model for them. I want to be someone that they can relate to."
If you think TikTok is just another social media app making kids believe they're not good enough and their body isn’t in line with the prevailing beauty standards, then look again. There’s a large sector of the platform that’s actually challenging what “the standard” is.
Now kids can look up to women who embrace their curves, who talk about their mental health struggles and who receive millions of likes from people who feel the same way, allowing them to become a voice for change. Remi Bader is one of many stars on the app who wants to change the conversation about body image.
When I asked her what role she wants to play in changing that conversation, she said, “I think I want people to embrace their curves more, instead of looking down on themselves for having curves … even though I don't love my body, there's things that I can find about my body that I do love. I think a lot of the support from followers has helped me do that. And that's why I continue to support them everyday, doing the same thing for them.”
As someone who grew up seeing very few people in the media who had curves, let alone those who embraced them, I am excited for this next generation of kids who are shedding their insecurities by sharing them. Body image issues shouldn’t control the narrative and some content creators on TikTok, like Bader, are taking that conversation, breaking it down and molding it into something new.
As for those “realistic clothing hauls?" Well, major fashion brands are taking note, which is fueling the change even further.
“The brands that are listening to what people say on TikTok, on Instagram, on social media in general, and listening to the reviews and what people are saying, those are the smart brands; they need to be doing that right now.”