Beauty and the Muse

Interview with Plus Model: Ophilia Alleyne

Posted on: March 31, 2014



I met Ophilia at The Fuller Woman Expo in Toronto. She was one of the models in the fashion show. We connected on Facebook and became close. She is pleasant, eloquent, and a positive force in the plus size industry. Here is her story:


LV: What was fashion like for you growing up?

OA: Growing up fashion was fun, adventurous and funky that is until I gained weight in my early twenties. It challenged my fashion standards as I was left with untrendy, shapeless options. Fashion became boring, colorless and streamed lined duplicating the look of every other full figured woman.  I’m in total awe of just how much the plus size fashion industry has progressed in the last ten years. We have options, bold colors, clothing that actually fits my curves and more options to express individuality.


LV: What was your inspiration for starting your organization? 

OA: Ophilia’s Kurves “It’s O.K. to be YOU” is a new organization geared towards the empowerment of woman. Though it’s in its early stages of development, my hope is that Ophilia’s Kurves will have an important place in the lives of women of all ages. I began this organization because I was bullied and made to feel less than. I vowed that I would help other women find their voice of confidence so that no one would ever have to feel what I felt. I’ve begun facilitating workshops one in particular entitled “P.A.C.E Yourself” which is an interactive session geared towards helping women learn how to walk with confidence and success not for the runway but for everyday life.

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LV: What magazines or campaigns have you been featured in? 

OA: Currently, I’ve been featured in Revista Belleza XL as a columnist entitled Kurvacious Canada. In the fall of 2013, I was featured in Canada’s only plus size magazine entitled Dare where I was deemed as “Fashions New Face”. In 2012, I was featured by Daily Venus Diva Magazine as model on the rise. I’ve been fortunate to partake in an ad campaign for Slice TV, SexyPlus Clothing which was featured in Lou Lou Magazine, Wal-Mart of Canada, Best for Brides and most recently I participated in a Positive Body Installation for Your Big Sister’s Closest promoting the message that “all bodies are good bodies”.


LV: What fashion shows have you done, and/or plan on doing?

OA: What a tough question because I’ve been fortunate to participate in several fashion shows. With that said, my most memorable fashion shows would include; Pennington’s, African Canadian Bridal Show, Caribbean Plus fashion Week, The Fuller Woman Expo, and Toronto Naturals Hair and Beauty Show. On Monday March 24th 2014, I will model in Project Diversity Disrupt the Norm created by Kirthiga Rajanayagam and Helen Saygan. This unique show is geared towards shedding light on diversity within the modeling industry.


LV: What types of setbacks or obstacles have you faced as a plus size woman in the fashion industry?

OA: What a controversial question. The setbacks that I have found in the industry include size discrimination and bullying. As a size 18-20, I have found that designers are afraid to showcase a model past a size 16. In fact, I was told by a major Canadian boutique that I was too fat for the camera and that I should lose 10lbs. I’m very thankful to retailers such as SexyPlus Clothing and Pennington’s who’ve taken a stance against such discrimination and now showcase women who are a size 18 and 20.


OA: I’ve noticed a lack of comradery amongst Canadian full figured models especially which is quiet disheartening. I can attest to that because I was bullied several years ago causing me to almost give up my dream as a full figured model. I’m a very spiritual individual, and I thank God every day for providing me with the strength to overcome the harsh words and actions of my bullies.  I am a firm believer that the spotlight is bright & large enough for us all to have a place under it. Fashion is about creativity, diversity and individuality therefore there is ample room for all of us to make our mark in this industry.


LV: What are some big projects you are working on currently?

OA: Right now, I’m working on a monthly article entitled Kurvacious Canada which is featured in Revista Belleza XL, The Fuller Woman Expo, Ophilia’s Kurves which will host an event geared towards young women in the fall of 2014 and I will be modeling for Project Diversity Disrupt the Norm Fashion Show Case geared towards shedding light on diversity within the model industry.


LV: How would you describe your individual style?

OA: Conservative yet super sexy.


LV: What advice would you give other women who are in your position or want to get to your position?

OA: Go for it! Don’t overthink it! Never ask for approval, simply follow your heart! The fashion industry is very competitive and a lot of work however if you follow my personal mantra “hard does not mean impossible” you will do well.


LV: Leave us with an awesome quote.

OA: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back”- Maya Angelou



Follow Plus Model Ophilia on Facebook and Twitter @ Ophilias Kurves


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Over pizza, a friend and I talked openly about hijab and sexism we’d experienced around it. 
Many people assumed that because I wear hijab it means I’m married. Hence, the idea of a woman wears hijab for a man and not herself or for God. 
She shared a story about going to a club with her hijab and being told that she shouldn’t be there by random Muslim men because she was hijabi. She bluntly replied, “Neither you or I should be in the club as Muslims.” Her story triggered me because I too had been through the same scenario. In addition to that I remember when my ex used to constantly tell me that I didn’t love God enough or I wasn’t Muslim because I doubted wearing hijab. But the chick he ended up going out with, during our marriage, was a non-hijabi 🤔 
My friend said something that resonated with me. “If it’s so easy to wear hijab, then why don’t men do it? They won’t. Because it makes them visible.” Being visibly Muslim, for some of us, isn’t easy. To wear or continue to wear hijab isn’t always easy. So, why are we so harsh on non-hijabis? 
When I went to California this summer, I decided that I was going to wear a bathing suit and ditch my hijab. For so long, I always wondered what it’d be like. Although, I felt guilty for showing my body as a Muslim I also felt empowered because I had the choice. And that I was very much so still Muslim whether I was covered or not. 
As a Muslim woman, I applaud you for wearing hijab, but I also understand if you aren’t there yet. Not all Muslims come in one size fits all. 
What are some common misconceptions about Muslim women that you’ve heard? What’s your take on hijabi vs non-hijabi? And anyone can chime in on this discussion ☕️
Photo: @funlens 
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