Show us how you slay.

Plus-size model Simone Mariposa started the #WeWearWhatWeWant hashtag to encourage plus-size women to show themselves dressing for their own comfort rather than the approval of others.

Society has a lot of strong ideas about how plus-size women should act, what they should wear and who they should be in the world. It can be exhausting to adhere to the cultural expectation that demands we be both invisible and highly put-together at the same time. The online body-positive fashion community is helping to challenge those expectations and smash those standards into the ground. LA-based blogger and model Simone Mariposa created the hashtag #WeWearWhatWeWant as a way to highlight the unconventional fashion choices of plus-size women and stand up to body shaming.

“People have this unnecessary sense of entitlement when it comes to fat bodies.”

After seeing a fellow plus-size model share an experience about a plus-size woman being judged and shamed for her outfit choice, Mariposa took to her Twitter account to vent her frustrations. She tweeted, “Every plus-size girl has had to bear the terrible brunt of being judged/policed for what we wear & how we wear it.” Followed by, “I no longer allow people to dictate what I should and shouldn’t wear.”

And then she created the #WeWearWhatWeWant tag on Twitter as a way to not simply highlight plus-size women wearing minimal clothing, but to highlight women being comfortable in their skin and wearing whatever it is they want. The tag took the ideas of dressing for your body and plus-size fashion rules and challenged them. Instead of saying, “You can’t wear that,” the hashtag offered an alternative that we hear so rarely in fashion, which is, “You can wear whatever you want.” And Mariposa was just the person posed to do it.

Simone Mariposa

“I’ve always been one to bend rules a little bit, march to the beat of my own drum,” Mariposa tells me via email. “So, although what people said and thought about me bothered me from time to time, I still wanted to do what I desired with my wardrobe. I strongly believe that it is no one else’s business or place to police someone else’s body, what they do with it and what they put on it.”

In addition to the online trolling and shaming comments from those who have a lot of opinions about what plus-size women should wear, Mariposa says she experiences strangers telling her to cover up at the mall and even at family functions. She says, “People have this unnecessary sense of entitlement when it comes to fat bodies.”

Simone Mariposa

It’s clear that Mariposa’s frustrations hit a nerve because the #WeWearWhatWeWant hashtag caught on like wildfire and was declared viral by only a few days after Mariposa first created it. The tag showed plus-size women of all sizes claiming their visibility and not apologizing for it. Plus-size women in bikinis alongside women in baggy tees with no pants showed that personal style is an individualized practice not determined by size. Mariposa says she was moved by the amount of women participating and sharing their images.

“I knew this movement was big when I saw it trending for a couple days,” she says. “Trending topics usually stay popular for a max of like, 18 hours. But when I searched the tag and saw that new pictures were being posted every two minutes, I realized this was something monumental. I cried. I saw my purpose being lived out in front of me. It was so humbling, and I had such a gratified feeling.”

With media coverage hailing #WeWearWhatWeWant as the body-positive hashtag to know, Mariposa sees an opportunity to create real change in the way in which plus-size women are perceived and judged. She sees the attention for the tag as as way to create a new narrative and a wider lens of representation for plus-size women in the media. With online success unlocked, Mariposa has plans to take the tag beyond social media and work on building this community offline, as well.

“Build up that inner confidence by letting yourself know that you are worthy, your body is beautiful, and you don’t have to hide.”

In the meantime, she plans on continuing to share images online and encourages others to do the same. Though the hashtag has brought out its share of trolls, Mariposa isn’t paying their opinions any mind. And she wants everyone who has been following and participating in the tag to do the same.

“Don’t let other people’s opinions of your body hold you back,” Mariposa says. “Don’t let them hold you back from doing/wearing what you’ve always longed to do/wear. Build up that inner confidence by letting yourself know that you are worthy, your body is beautiful, and you don’t have to hide.”

In a world that continues to police plus-size women, this message of self-acceptance is a powerful one. Mariposa asserts that the approval of others is not necessary for her to shine, and that attitude is one I know I certainly want to see more of.