Wednesday Jan 09, 2019
LONDON: British-Pakistani plus-size model Lady Mya Amarise has said that Pakistani women are amongst the most beautiful women in the world, but they need more exposure and recognition which is restricted due to cultural reasons.
Mya has become a constant presence at plus-size modelling competitions in Britain, America and many other places and she promotes the view that underweight modelling is bad for health, fashion and human society. She told in an interview that using underweight models and shaming curvaceous and healthy women is wrong and unethical and must be discouraged.
Mya’s story is inspirational. She got married to a relative from Pakistan at a young age of 16 and the couple had four children together and then the plus size factor caused issues in their marriage. “I was degraded for it that’s why I embraced what was my weakness to empower myself and motivate other women like myself who suffer. I decided to part ways due to a lot of uncertainty and personality clashes. I empowered myself what put me down for 15 years of marriage.”
She set up her own salon in Essex and fashion business besides raising children. Now in her early 40s, she graduated a few years back with a BA Honours Degree from London University.
Her passion for plus-size modelling has so far taken her to over a dozen countries.
Mya first entered a national competition called Miss British Beauty Curve in 2013 in Chigwell, East London. She became the first ever-Asian woman to have entered this kind of competition. She recalls: “At the grand finale, I competed with over 300 plus-size ladies from around the United Kingdom and I was over the moon when I was crowned as Miss British Beauty Curve 2013 for the Asian entry of the competition.”
It’s after that event that she came to know about the pageant in Miami. She found a sponsor to attend the event to showcase her talent. “I flew out to Miami as ambassador of the UK to compete with models from dozens of countries including models from India, Brazil, Portugal and Pakistan. This pageant is called Miss United Nations. It was there that I realised that I was the plus size woman, the rest were all size 6 to 8 and not more. I was size 14. I felt there was no chance for me to win as I was a plus size and obviously I felt restricted as a Muslim woman as I didn’t want to do swimwear and told the organisers that I will wear only modest clothes. I wore a long kaftan.”
As she walked on the ramp before the judges, she won a standing ovation and was crowned as Miss United Nations. “I was so super proud of myself. I couldn’t believe that I had taken the crown from many other women including from the United Kingdom. I flew back home to London with my head held high. I won another competition in 2014. In 2015 I was approached to represent Asian women in a New York competition and in that competition I was crowned as Miss Asian International.”
Mya has been approached by many NGOs to support their cause after being crowned in the UK and USA but she decided to support a charity which worked for the rights of Palestinians and another charity that has worked in Pakistan for disabled persons in a village of Khushaab. “I have visited Palestine and Pakistan to support these charities. I strongly believe that we have commitment towards human rights causes and we should do all we can to help other human beings, who are less fortunate and living in distress. We offer free dispensary for the poor and free eye camp for patients. It was a great small start we did in Pakistan and the work continues.”
She has also worked in extra roles in a few Bollywood films which were shot in London and was also featured in a major English documentary on sham marriages.
Initially it was tough but soon she started to enjoy her pageantry because she started to enjoy competing. At another competition in 2016, she was a runner-up as Ms Pakistan Commonwealth States and that competition was held in London.
She says that she didn’t know much about Pakistan but wanted to represent the country and wanted to put the country on the map for plus-size models and entered Miss International Curve as Miss Pakistan Curve. “I took the platform like a storm. All my followers and supporters were amazed at the response I received when I walked the ramp in Green and White. I competed with UK, Jamaica, USA, Ireland and I was crowned as Miss Pakistan Curve on.”
Mya has a strong message for the mainstream fashion industry, which in her view, discriminates against bigger women and encourages hatred of them by appreciating only skinny women. “In America, there is a huge demand for the plus sized women and big size is appreciated but sadly it’s shunned in many parts of the world. The real beauty lies inside of women and not in how thin and slim they are. It's curves that matter and that make women beautiful.”
She explained that women who are forced to adopt to thinness are, in many cases, involved in use of drugs, drink and tablets to kill their appetite for food in order to stay slim. “That’s killing women. Girls are under pressure from a young age to look think and not eat well, this obsession with thinness is negative. That’s unacceptable. Obesity is unhealthy and fatness is illness but being healthy is good and there is nothing to be ashamed of big size. The culture of body shaming must end and the industry needs to look beyond stereotypes around beauty and stop body shaming.”
She said that America is full of freedoms for women because “curvy women are appreciated and being plus size is a plus. I am a broad and big woman and I have seen that big women are encouraged a lot in America.”