Remi Bader had zero intention of becoming a TikTok sensation—which is pretty wild, considering she’s almost every other video on my For You Page. As a fashion editor who thinks about clothing for an average of 23 hours per day, it’s no surprise that TikTok’s algorithm serves me things like shopping vlogs, OOTDs and hauls over any other kind of content. That said, no one on the platform is doing fashion hauls quite like Remi Bader.
Less than a year ago, Bader was let go from a job at TIDAL and like so many other twenty-somethings subject to pandemic job loss, she had no idea what to do next. When her family suggested curve modeling, she signed with an agency in New York City but felt her career would be slow to take off, due in part to coronavirus safety restrictions limiting the number of shoots she could actually book.
What’s a gal with access to social media and tons of free time to do? Watch videos on TikTok, of course. Little did Bader know, her scrolling, would inspire her to begin an entirely new career path. “I started seeing the side of TikTok that was fashion, midsize, curvy, plus-size—which I’d never really followed or seen before,” she tells STYLECASTER. “And I’m like, I could do this! I’ve been feeling a little bit insecure about myself; maybe this will just be something good for me.”
A handful of uploads later, Bader was no closer to achieving Charli D’Amelio-level fame. “I made a few videos…and they didn’t go anywhere. You know, not a lot of people saw them. And I was like, wow, this is a lot of work to be put into just making a video. I don’t think I’m gonna do this.”
It wasn’t until a PrettyLittleThing package arrived that Bader made another kind of video—one more open and honest than the kind she’d originally thought would take off. After cracking jokes and Snapchatting her friends about how oddly some of the piece in her package fit her, Bader took her ill-fitting purchases to TikTok for her first-ever realistic haul (a genre she has more or less invented on the platform).
I’m literally just being the Remi I’ve always been—and recording that now for the world.
“That was the first one that kind of went somewhat viral, like for me, being someone that had no views,” says Bader. Cue a package in the mail from NastyGal the next day, another realistic haul video, more followers, more views—then repeat that growth about a hundred or so more times. Viewers came for the hauls and stayed for Bader’s witty commentary, her glowing personality and a much-needed dose of real talk. It wasn’t so much about the clothing as it was Bader’s relatable perspective.
“I think on social media, everyone tends to only show the positive things and not the negative. So that’s kind of how I started my series,” she shares. When most influencers share a haul with their followers, they tend to skip the items that don’t quite work and focus on the very best finds instead, creating the illusion that everything from an online order should fit just like it does on a website’s perfectly-proportioned model. In showing each and every piece, Bader is normalizing the idea that not everything will look perfect all of the time—and that the problem lies with the article of clothing, not the wearer.
That said, she doesn’t want you to look to her as the poster child for loving your body. “I don’t really like being referred to as a body positive influencer, because as much as I’m talking about being comfortable with yourself and trying to be accepting of where you are now and living your life, it doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily happy with what my body looks like or feeling very comfortable in my own skin,” she shares.
Prior to her first viral upload, Bader was hard at work coming to terms with a 40lb. weight gain, brought on by a combination of stress and binge eating. “There was a few months where I didn’t go out, I didn’t want to see my friends. I kept the same clothes that just didn’t fit me and I was so uncomfortable, because I just didn’t make an effort to change anything and I wasn’t accepting of where I was at,” says Bader. “I think, even prior to that, I’ve never been happy. I’ve always been a little overweight for myself and I was always a very big dieter.”
Today, she recognizes that her success on TikTok was in many ways brought on by the weight gain she once felt so ashamed of. “To be honest, if I hadn’t gained the weight, I probably never would be where I am today with making these videos,” she says. “I almost think, me putting myself out there with how I am, and just trying to be okay with that I gained some weight is what made my platform what it is today.”
It’s that honest insight that makes Bader’s realistic hauls so popular. “People like that I’m being honest and being realistic, and that I’m coming online and being like, ‘I just want to let you guys know I’m not happy today with my body, but I’m still gonna post this video because I want to help you, and I want to help myself.'”
More an advocate for body neutrality and acceptance than body positivity per se, Bader is a patron of reality. “I feel like I’m a real influencer, and a real content creator. There’s nothing else about it. I will never be that influencer that just makes themselves look perfect, and I also will not preach that I’m happy about things like my body when maybe I’m not,” she insists. “So I’m literally just being the Remi I’ve always been—and recording that now for the world.”
In support of all things real, it’s no surprise that Bader has found a family in Aerie, a brand known for embracing real role models, releasing unretouched campaigns and championing body acceptance as a major facet of the company’s core ethos. It’s safe to say Bader is approached by dozens of brands these days, each of them eager for her stamp of approval on Instagram or a shout out in her newest TikTok. Above all others, Aerie feels like an especially natural fit.
I will never be that influencer that just makes themselves look perfect.
Bader joins Sienna Gomez, Keke Palmer, Skai Jackson, Aly Raisman, Ava Michelle, Danae Mercer, Lauren Chan, Lana Condor, Taylor Cassidy and Manon Matthews in fronting Aerie‘s new #AerieReal Reveal Challenge. For every Instagram post tagging the brand and using the #AerieReal hashtag, $1 will be donated to the National Eating Disorder Association up to $100K.
In choosing to partner with Aerie, Bader sends a message to less inclusive brands to do better if they want to keep up. “Like, how can you not listen to your thousands and thousands and millions of customers on Tiktok—or me!—basically begging you to make a change. It’s like, do it already!” She, like so many shoppers, doesn’t see the point in giving these companies any more attention.
To help Bader and the rest of the Aerie Real gang raise money for NEDA, participate in the #AerieReal Reveal Challenge on social media this week and check out Bader’s video on her TikTok page now. To get a Remi-approved look you won’t have to include as a disappointment in your next realistic haul video, read on for a few of her favorite pieces for spring and summer, available at Aerie now.
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A Cute Matching Sweatsuit
Like pretty much everyone, Bader is obsessed with Aerie sweats. “Their sweat sets have saved me, being in quarantine and this whole time of needing to be comfortable but also wanting to be cute,” she says.
These Super-Soft Sweatpant Shorts
The TikTok Famous Bike Shorts
“Literally, what I’ve worn in a hundred of my videos is their bike shorts,” Bader raves. “They’re literally the best things ever! I walk all around the city, miles in them. I could just wear them all the time, they’re my favorite out of any brand.”
In particular, the crossover band style has gone viral on TikTok about a dozen times to date.
A Good Cover-Up For Summer
“I actually bought two cover-ups last summer,” says Remi, referencing a pair of Aerie beach pants I, too, loved and hope they restock for 2021. “I wore them the entire summer and switched back and forth from the white and the navy ones. They’re amazing.”
Aerie, if you’re reading this, bring back the beach pants! Until then, this cute crochet dress will do.