It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.
Remi Bader is one of TikTok's best-known hype-women when it comes to plus-size fashion. The 26-year-old has made a name for herself as the "queen of realistic hauls" by posting videos trying on clothing — the good, the bad and the horribly ill-fitting — in an attempt to normalize the often emotional try-on process that many are familiar with. But as she gains followers, nearly hitting two million on TikTok alone as of publish, brand deals and access to the world of plus-size fashion, Bader still has a lot to figure out when it comes to her journey with body image and influencing. One thing is for sure, however, she is not body positive.
"I wouldn't consider myself a body positive influencer," she tells Yahoo Life. "I wish I could be like those people who feel that way and are genuinely so happy with the way they look and satisfied and content. But I'm not. I feel pretty uncomfortable."
The 26-year-old's feelings about her own body might be confusing to some who go to her page looking for a boost of confidence, simply because it radiates off of Bader herself. Still, as she embraces the opportunities that her fast fame has brought her by unapologetically being herself, the New York native admits that her on-camera self-esteem shouldn't be confused for positivity.
"When people say positive things about me, saying they wish they had my body and all these things, that affects me. Those positive things have actually boosted my confidence. But when I'm alone in my room and not putting myself out there to the world, it's actually a worse situation for me," she explains. "When I'm alone and look in the mirror instead of putting myself on camera, or if I'm getting ready alone or just looking at my stretch marks or my body and the way that it's changed in the past year, I get very upset. Like I'm not happy with what I see."
Like most relationships with body image, Bader's is complicated. It also stems from what she came to believe she needed to look like through external influences when she was younger. "I'm the only one in my family with weight issues and eating issues. I was always affected by things that my parents or people close to me would say," she explains, recalling early instances of family members encouraging her to lose weight. "Now my parents know they can't really say things to me like that. But I always went on these diets and did this stuff because I wanted to feel better about my body. I wanted to be skinnier. I was always trying to be something I wasn't when it came to my body."
Bader has even opened up to her online audience about how seriously her internal struggles have impacted her, manifesting itself into an eating disorder in the form of binging.
"I'm not going to just be funny every day if that's not how I'm feeling," she says. "Like some days I'm in a funny, crazy mood and that's me. And then some days I'm really struggling and struggling with my mental health, struggling with my weight. While I'm at the point where I post every day, I'm going to post those things also."
Bader has even started to recognize content creation as a sort of coping mechanism.
"When I'm most vulnerable or really struggling, those are actually the moments that I make my videos because that helps me feel less lonely. The thousands of messages I get after those videos that I post are actually really helpful," she explains. "I respond to people, I take their feedback, I listen to their opinions and that makes me feel a lot less lonely when I'm dealing with these issues."
Although she wishes to influence others with expertise or advice on how to overcome the very struggles that she's facing, Bader serves a bigger purpose to viewers who see themselves in her and her current journey.
"I look at my followers as they look at me. I sometimes post things just so I could look at their feedback so we can all kind of be this community together because it's like, I'm struggling too," she says, while reflecting on the work of other influencers in the space. "I think a lot of the content creators speaking about eating disorders and body positivity became what they are because they overcame it. And like, I am literally not even close to overcoming it. I chose to just include people in my life struggles and talk about it with them."
What she has done for her followers is empower them to speak openly about their insecurities. By doing so herself, Bader says that those things start to hold less power and shame.
"I've always been super open and really self-aware. So I know when I've gained weight, I know when I get stretch marks and I just openly talk about it with my friends, my family and anyone around me. It's just the way I've always been. I'm now starting to realize that for other people, that's a big deal for them. That's something that a lot of people cannot do — talk out loud about their insecurities," she says. "I'm that person allowing them to do that and that part makes me so happy that I could do that for other people."
The biggest display of her influence came after Bader posted a video revealing her weight while posing in a bikini. The original TikTok trend encouraged women ranging from 110 to 190 pounds to show off their figures. Bader wrote "Try 250" at the top of hers with the caption, "I've never shared my weight before, but here ya go!" That video was viewed more than four million times and countless women then followed suit.
While it is her body and her confidence that has gotten her this far, and has positively impacted so many, Bader embraces the fact that she has yet to achieve full acceptance and positivity when it comes to her figure.
"That is the goal," she says. "I believe it is the most important. And I'm just trying to take the steps right now to get to that place."
Luckily, in the meantime, finding a great outfit and making relatable content out of it helps.
"Fashion and clothing is such an important thing because that's what changed everything for me," she says. "When I do find the outfits that work for me and make me feel good, that really can make me feel on top of the world."