Being constantly confused for two members of Hollywood's most famous family can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it. For Dubai-based sisters, Fyza and Sonia Ali, being told they're Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian "look-alikes," respectively, has been a little bit of both.
Fyza is 25 years old (left in the above photo) and Sonia is just 22 (she's on the right), yet they've been active members of the beauty community for years through their popular Instagram account @SoniaxFyza. Together they've amassed almost 700,000 followers by sharing their makeup looks, tips, and favourite products — but it was the celebrity comparison that thrust them into the international spotlight.
The popular account started as a place for older sister Fyza to showcase her work as a budding makeup artist, often using her sister to showcase her skills. Now they work with big brands in the United Arab Emirates to create content for their page and star in campaigns. Though the comparisons to Kim and Kylie has certainly given them notoriety and buzz, it's not without its downsides. Over the past few weeks, the pair has become the focus of dozens of news articles, some of which claim the sisters have physically altered their appearance to resemble the sisters — but is it true?
The sisters asked to talk with Refinery29 to tell their story.
Let's start from the beginning. How did you both get into the beauty world?
Fyza: "It all started when I was an art major in school. I got bullied growing up, and my only escape was art class. One day I thought, 'If I could make my art come to life, what would it be?' The closest thing would be doing makeup on a person.
"I started doing makeup when I was 15 years old, but I didn't get work until I was 17. First, I built up my portfolio by doing makeup on my little sister, Sonia.
"One day, when my family was on vacation in Miami, a woman working at a MAC store saw my work on Sonia and told me to start putting it on Instagram. [Once we started gaining a following] we started getting a lot of comments and requests to recreate celebrity looks. Sonia started doing makeup looks on herself, too. Our top requests were for J.Lo and Kim Kardashian — and that's when the comparisons started."
"My grandmother looked like Kim before Kim looked like Kim."
How do you feel about being compared to Kim and Kylie?
Fyza: "We always get told we're Kardashian wannabes, but this is how we have always looked. Last year we were even contacted by the Kardashians a number of times for the 'look-alikes' episode of the show, but we said no."
Sonia: "In the Middle East, every single woman has a 'Kardashian look.' It's very common. People here aren't shocked by how we look because everyone has dark skin, dark brows, and brown eyes. Every corner you turn, everyone looks like a Kardashian."
Fyza: "If you came to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, you'll see all the girls look like them. The thing is, culturally and traditionally, a lot of women here don't expose themselves online. Most women are very private. When we're walking around Dubai, no one ever mentions the Kardashians. The Kardashians don't even cross our mind unless someone says it online.
"I like the Kardashians for bringing out this look. Before, we were always ignored by brands and companies because we didn't have that 'English look' with rosy cheeks or blond hair and blue eyes. I think the Kylie comparisons for me have more to do with my short hair — I don't think I really look like her. I have friends who look more like Kylie than I do."
Why do you think glam makeup resonates with women in the Middle East so much?
Sonia: "In the West, everyone has a way to express themselves, with different coloured hair or tattoos, but Arab women are traditionally covered. Because we have free will, Sonia and I do what we please. Many of the women here cover up and since all [they're] meant to show are [their] faces, the only way they can express themselves is through makeup. Being in full glam at 7 a.m. is completely normal. It's a way to express our love and accentuate [our features]. We could wear ten pounds of makeup, and no one would bat an eyelid because it's our choice."
What's been the hardest part of being compared to Kylie and Kim?
Sonia: "Being accused of trying to look like someone else is offensive to my parents and grandparents. My grandmother looked like Kim before Kim looked like Kim!"
Over the past few months rumours have circulated that you've gotten plastic surgery to more closely resemble the sisters. How would you respond to that?
Fyza: "We were in L.A. for the whole month in July [to attend events], and I think that's when all the negativity started happening. It was really confusing for us. While we were there, a website did an article about how we got surgery to look like the Kardashians. Everyone is open about surgery in the Middle East, but it's offensive to say you got it to look like someone else.
"I've had under-eye filler to get rid of my puffy eyes, and I also got lip filler three years ago because I wanted my top lip to be more even with my bottom lip. Sonia hasn't gotten anything because she's scared of needles. We're very open, but we had a meet and greet once and realised we have fans who are 7-years-old, so we try to avoid talking about surgery. I don't want younger girls to say 'Fyza got lip fillers, so I want them too!'
"I don't understand the people who hate on others for surgery. Everyone has their own body, and they're allowed to do whatever they want with it."
Still, it's hard to deny the uncanny resemblance...
Sonia: "I honestly think it's the makeup: the smoky brown eye, smoked-out wing liner, heavy contour, and thick brows. It's been in Dubai for years and years, it's something our grandmothers would do with harsher kohl. My grandmother was contouring for years with darker foundation, but it wasn't called contour, it was just an illusion to make cheeks look higher or noses look smaller."
What's next for SoniaxFyza?
Fyza: "Eventually, we want our own brand. I also want to travel a lot more and do makeup classes, but I want to do them at a reasonable price so everyone can experience it."