Almost every profile on Amina Blue starts with an anecdote about her size. That's because she's only 5'1", yet has walked the runway for Kanye West a whopping five times. This makes her a unicorn in the rarefied world of modeling. (Remember: It's a world where Cara Delevingne, at 5'7", is considered "short.") The reason behind Yeezy's fascination with Blue becomes more apparent after a quick scan of her Instagram profile. You might think the half-German, half-Pakistani 24-year-old was a long lost sister of Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie: She wears Life of Pablo merchandise, takes bathroom selfies in FashionNova, and promotes SugarBearHair. But, Blue isn't from Calabasas — she was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
"Growing up, I always liked makeup and shopping and all that girly stuff," she tells Refinery29. "But I was always short, so I knew being a model might not work out." Yet it did. After early gigs in "urban music videos" for people like A$AP Ferg, 50 Cent, and Future, and what she describes as "sexier photo shoots," Blue was able to pivot into a more high-fashion career, thanks in part to one of the most influential artists of our generation.
"I’ve been turned down because of my height [in the past], but slowly, the fashion world is accepting that every girl isn’t tall and skinny, and I like to think I have some sort of contribution to that," she explains, noting that her ability to gain the confidence to ignore stereotypes and overcome rejection ultimately helped propel her career. "You can overcome just about anything if you are determined and confident in yourself, and that [confidence] rubs off on people." A vote of confidence from Mr. West probably doesn't hurt, either.
"I met Kanye [West] at his fitting for Yeezy Season 1," Blue says, noting that she was first cast as just a fit model. "What was supposed to be a casting for me turned into day one of working with Kanye." After appearing on stage in a full body stocking, bra top, nude underwear, and heels covered by knee-high socks, her fate was sealed as the ultimate Yeezy woman: She's since walked in the brand's subsequent shows, even becoming known as "the model who took her heels off" during Season 4. "I love working with 'Ye," she adds. "This job is so much easier when you work with genuinely good people who want to create dope stuff, and that's exactly what working with Kanye is like."
West, however, isn't the only famous name taken with Blue. "I met Carine [Roitfeld] through Kanye," she says; Blue has starred in the French fashion editor's namesake magazine, CR Fashion Book, on multiple occasions, including a modern pin-up shoot dubbed "Not Safe For Work," a model portfolio alongside Gigi and Bella Hadid, Nina Agdal, and Irina Shayk, among others, and the glossy's "see now, buy now," holiday announcement.
"Carine was an absolute pleasure to talk with and get to know," Blue says. "She was very supportive of me from the very first day we met, which is extremely hard to find nowadays. I had such a fun time shooting with her and her team. A few months after the shoot, she held a viewing party for the pictures we took. It was awesome."
While the fashion industry love has raised her profile in certain circles, the secret to Blue's popularity is a lot more down-to-earth than that. The model has attracted a following (582K+ on Instagram alone) for her signature off-duty style, which she says almost always includes one of the following three items: 1) "A good pair of leggings;" 2) "A super-fitted bodycon dress to show off those curves;" and 3) "A comfy oversized hoodie." They're not just her reliable go-tos, they're pieces she says she couldn't live without. And, when it comes to the age-old idea of "dressing for your body type," Blue gives zero fucks.
"People always told me that I looked like I was drowning in some of the clothes I wore because they were so oversized," she says, when asked if there's an item she's been told don't look "good" on petite women, but she's learned is bullshit. "Every body type wears oversized now! I have days where I’m extremely simple, and days where I wake up and want to try something different and completely opposite. I don’t think anyone's style stays the same for too long anymore."
Another style convention Blue has been working to combat is the use of animal furs and skins in fashion — and that's reflected in how she builds her wardrobe. A vegan for five years now (and a recent face of PETA), she says: "Obviously, most well-known high-fashion brands use/have used animal fur and skins in their collections," including Kanye West, "and I have to be mindful and aware of what those brands are and what I can or cannot buy." She points to Stella McCartney as a brand she frequently shops. "Thankfully, so many brands are eliminating the use of animal skin in their clothing," she adds, "which makes it much easier to find good stuff to wear."
In terms of where the industry stands against animal cruelty, Blue acknowledges that while strides are being made, there's still much more work to be done: "People are becoming more aware of the cruelties the animals endure. Like everything else, things take time — especially when people aren’t really properly educated on what they're really wearing." And, to contribute to the cause first-hand, Blue is currently working on her own vegan shoe line (which sneakily appeared in this CR Fashion Book spread).
"[My shoe line] is still in the works, because I just want to make it as perfect as I can," she says. "I couldn’t find many vegan-friendly heels I could wear, so I decided to make ones that cater to people who dress like I do. I’m super-excited for everyone to see what I’ve been working on. There are a lot of good people supporting me doing it, so I’m really happy."
This urge to help those around her see ms to be innate — she's leading by example, making room for short, curvy women in high-fashion, and working to fight against animal cruelty in the industry, which might have something to do with why her Instagram bio simply reads: "I AM INFLUENCE."
"I get so many messages from people telling me how I’ve influenced them either to go vegan or how I’ve influenced their personal style, and that's where [the phrase] comes from. Realistically, not everyone has the body shape of a model, so I’m proud that I get to represent those who don’t. Being able to influence other people is a great feeling. Anyone successful at what they do will tell you you have to be confident in yourself."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.