If there is one person, in retrospect, who Beyonce might’ve written the lyrics “Coz I slay, all day, I slay” about, it is Los Angeles-based model and blogger Simone Mariposa. Just look at her expression in the above image, doesn’t it just scream “I slay, all day”??!
We love this badass chick because she started a hashtag which went viral, called #WeWearWhatWeWant, and while it’s pretty self-explanatory, sadly the idea of it is not necessarily the norm in society yet.
Summer is usually the time when beauty and fashion publications and websites start to offer their unsolicited advice about what types of body shapes, skin tones, and ages should wear what. It’s an unspoken ritual that dominates every season of the year, so much so that if a person dares to deviate away from what trends dictate, they are considered a rebel.
With the welcome disruption of the body positive movement in mainstream fashion and beauty, largely led by a number of prominent plus size bloggers and models, because it is a collective voice of people who are sick of being told they exist “outside the norm” and are demanding to widen the definition of what is acceptable beauty.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Simone says she started the hashtag after reading a Twitter thread about a woman who openly witnessed a public display of body shaming by a woman toward another, simply because the first woman didn’t like what the second woman was wearing.
What became apparent for Simone was that the woman doing the shaming in the story was simply a product of decades of brainwashing by the beauty industries that have successfully managed to convince us that unless you are a white, skinny woman, you are somehow “other”.
“[It] can take a big toll on one’s self-esteem. My body image suffered greatly from it. I stopped wearing my legs and arms out, I stayed away from clothes that accentuated my belly fat, and I was extremely self conscious [in] public. However, after a while, I stopped letting society dictate my wardrobe, and starting wearing things that I always dreamed of wearing that made me feel beautiful,” she recalled.
After knowing first hand the feeling of being “other” because of her size, Simone decided she wanted to start her own mini-rebellion with the hashtag #wewearwhatwewant and encourage other social media users who have also felt left out by mainstream standards to take a stand for their fashion choices.
“[I wanted to] highlight plus-size girls making unconventional fashion choices, and looking amazing while [making them]. The fat woman’s experience is rarely addressed and discussed, because we are often stripped of our humanity,” she explained.
She never expected the hashtag to become as big as it did, and she became overwhelmed at the amount of responses and support she received after launching it. There were women coming out of the woodwork, finally having the confidence to publicly declare that they love their bodies and they refuse to apologize for the choices they make because a set of pre-conceived marketing standards have told them to.
Simone realized what a powerful movement she had created and was happy to see how it was helping other women.
“It is my absolute passion to help people out there feel better about themselves by using my stories and others like them as motivation…There are countless people out there who who still lack that self-love to break their own mental chains of low self-esteem, and women like us can possibly help to change that. We can lead by example,” she said.
It is also about being a voice for those who feel they don’t have the platform or opportunity to share their experiences of being shamed and policed. It’s why women like Ashley Graham, Tess Holliday and Jes Baker have become such a beacon of hope and leadership in the body positive community, boldly speaking out against the continual barrage of negative voices that police women’s bodies every day online and in person.
One of our favorite body-positive brands is Smart Glamour, started by NYC-based designer Mallorie Dunn who is a very vocal advocate about keeping media, fashion and brands accountable for the subtle messages they send to women. In a recent post shared on her Facebook page (which we are sharing with her permission), she had this to say about the epidemic of body policing:
“New indie ‘body positive’ magazine gives you a lovely mention but then 5 pages later includes a shaming article about what to wear ‘for your shape” with advice like, “if your shirt is loose, belt it to cinch your waist – why have curves if you don’t show them?’ – and suggesting “apple body shaped” humans flaunt their legs instead. Girl, bye. Any ‘shape’ can wear any silhouette they please. You owe your thinness to no one. You don’t need to “balance out” your shoulders. Pretty is not your rent in this world and beauty standards are subjective,” she said, and as a designer walking the talk, with her campaigns and collections featuring many different types of bodies, she knows a body-shaming message when she sees one.
Simone hopes to keep the hashtag around for as long as possible, and not have it just be another passing fad. Movements like this within the body positive community are what will keep giving people the encouragement they need to stop apologizing for who they are and disliking their bodies just to conform to a narrow set of ideals.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Simone for creating #wewearwhatwewant which is so much more than just a hashtag, it is a revolutionary and rebellious state of mind in a world where it is frowned upon to embrace who you are.