Model Sisters Yumi Nu and Natalie Nootenboom on Representation, the Fashion Industry, and Finding Their Roots

 Model Sisters Yumi Nu and Natalie Nootenboom on Representation, the Fashion Industry, and Finding Their Roots


It’s 5 a.m. on a Tuesday, and the doors have just opened at Petit Paulette, a French bistro-style wine bar that feeds south of Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn. Enthusiastic swing music drifted through the speakers and, outside the window, rows of white daffodils were already in bloom. The beautiful place is a favorite of Yumi Nu, the 25-year-old model-musician who recently moved into her home in Silver Lake, Los Angeles and an apartment just a few blocks away. The move was triggered by its sudden rise in fashion – first landing on the cover Described in Sports last July then the September cover of American Vogue a few months later, it became the first Asian plus size model to do so. “It’s so cute,” she said, entering the bar wearing a black duster coat and cozy gray sweater (apropos given the strong weather in April). Her hair was neatly pulled back into a low bun and the classic gold rings hung over her ears.

A few minutes later, her younger sister and fellow model musician Natalie Nootenboom arrived, from their family home near Las Vegas for the occasion. Natalie, 21, wore a solid red tank top and a necklace with a dragon holding a pearl in her mouth, her hair parted to the side. Stripping off his coat, he revealed a tattoo of the word Awareness on his inner right elbow, while a red snake ran down his left arm. “I’ve been making metal for a while, now I’m making rock music,” Natalie said later, speaking in a cool, confident way that helped her become the first plus size model to walk the runway for Anna Sui when 16 he was only a few years old. The sisters have a quick relationship. Natalie has a very dry sense of humor, cracking self-destructive jokes with a practice poker face leaving her sister in the seams. They said the small distance helped them get closer-they tried to be together a little bit in LA, but, “It didn’t happen. We knew our boundaries,” Yumi said. agree, Natalie added, “there are almost flashbacks to your upbringing.”

Like many other famous siblings, Yumi and Natalie find themselves rising to the ranks of the fashion world in almost tandem, feeling challenged at times due to the comparative lack of opportunities for more. Asian sizes and models. “But I was so lucky to see sisters Gigi and Bella [Hadid]Dakota and Elle [Fanning], which uplifts each other even though they are in the same industry, ”Natalie said. “It’s like, we’re on the same team.” More than blood, the brothers are united in their mission to champion body inclusivity and Asian-American representation in the media. “I didn’t have anyone like me when I was growing up, so now I’m fulfilling that for myself and others like me,” Yumi said, to which Natalie wholeheartedly agreed.



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