The last time ICE Today checked in with her, Sobia Ameen was a local baker whose creations for Pishto Dessert Bar were nothing short of being pieces of art. Back then, she was minding her own business and filling her Instagram Feed with images of gorgeous cakes and her adorable doggos, Elachi and Daruchini. Occasional photos of her daily life would be peppered here and there, and every once in a while, you’d catch a post of her endorsing a local brand.
No one, not even Sobia herself would have guessed that the next time she’d be chatting with ICE Today, it would be as Sobia Ameen, one of Dhaka’s hottest influencers, getting headhunted by the likes of Masaba Gupta and Katrina Kaif to endorse their brands.
So how did it all happen – how did friendly neighborhood cake artisan Sobia become Sobia the influencer and model, who now works beyond the nation’s borders?
“For the longest time, I didn’t even know what an influencer is!” she laughed, “I was just doing my own thing. I simply gathered a lot of followers along the way, I guess.”
The first brand to ever approach Sobia was Humaira Khan for Anikini. Since then, although Sobia was still just the proprietor of a bakery, various local designers and brands have been asking her to showcase their products. Why? Because Sobia reaches people. The raw appeal of her honesty about who she is, along with the artistic way in she displays it, provokes a strong response from people, and makes followers gravitate towards Sobia’s profile naturally. If there is one thing that is consistent with all of Sobia’s posts, it is her stunning sense of aesthetics in curating content for social media. And that is perhaps also what caught Masaba Gupta’s eyes when Sobia posted a photo of herself in a Masaba lehenga during her sister’s holud. Before Sobia knew it, she was modelling for House of Masaba’s new line and we all know how she blew up the internet in those green dog-print trackees!
IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH ALL OF SOBIA’S POSTS, IT IS HER STUNNING SENSE OF AESTHETICS IN CURATING CONTENT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
In a culture that can be quite critical, it is very inspiring to see a dark-skinned, plus sized model like Sobia be as popular as she is. Due to reiterated Eurocentric idealisations of beauty prevalent in our society, for too long girls have been growing up feeling insecure about the way they look. “The way we criticise our looks is a baggage that keeps being passed down – take my mother for example. She used to be very critical of her own body, and in turn she was critical of my body. She used to tell me to lose weight constantly, even though she never had a problem with my dark skin,” Sobia said.
The perception of beauty changes with time; with geography – the perception of beauty is different for everyone, so being so critical of ourselves and others based on one set stereotype is quite foolish. Beauty isn’t restricted to one specific type of look – it comes in many forms and only recently have people begun to accept that and advocate for it. Sobia’s popularity is a really good example of that phenomenon because it happened so organically. People follow her because whatever she presents is beautiful – whether it is herself, her cakes or even just a photo of random objects. And both local and global brands have recognised that. The Dhaka-based influencer, however, remains a little sceptical when it comes to the depth of that inclusivity. “It’s not enough to be inclusive just when it’s trending – you actually have to believe in the message,” she says.
Although sometimes she gets a bit tired of being the poster child for body positivity and inclusivity, Sobia does acknowledge the importance of being a role model to the many young people who look up to her. She thinks that it’s important to impart the message that the best way to look good is by being yourself. Which is exactly why she thinks that in her line of work, one has to be very careful and responsible. She thinks it’s important to only work with brands that align with her principles. “I don’t think I’ll ever work with an ethically questionable brand. I think that’s where I draw the line. I don’t want to preach one thing and practice another just because someone is paying me for a campaign.”
Another thing that Sobia does not want to condone is an unhealthy lifestyle. “A lot of people get offended when I talk about clean eating. I mean, I’m no one to judge – to each their own! But what I do know is that whenever I eat junk my body acts up and I feel bad, so I try to watch what I put into my body.” Sobia also works out every day. Staying mentally and physically healthy is her number one priority, even if it means not being the token plus-size model anymore. As is being true to her principles. To the point that she will consider putting this whole gig off if she feels that it has gotten too toxic or stressful.
So, what’s next for Sobia Ameen? “I really want to work in other countries,” she said. Well, having collaborated with House of Masaba and Kay Beauty in a span of less than six months, I’d say that as soon as the borders open, the next stop for her might just be Mumbai!