la'shaunae steward is the plus-size instagram goddess we need
Catching up with the social media sensation and now shoe curator.
La’Shaunae Steward first came to our attention via the Instagram of the very fabulous @sanam, who’s been tasked with giving shoe brand Jeffrey Campbell a visual makeover. Sanam realised most girls couldn’t fit into the skinny, thigh high boots that are so prevalent at the moment, so she flew in La’Shaunae to help her tackle the issue of sizeist shoes. “Within a few weeks me and La'Shaunae were at Roscoe's eating and planning her looks for the campaign,” she says on her Instagram. Twenty-one-year-old La’Shaunae lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she plots fashion-world domination and chronicles her fierce, fun looks. She first came to popular attention in an unfortunate way, when trolls got hold of one of her selfies in a Thrasher T-shirt and made her a meme. The internet, for once, did something good, and a bunch of people rushed to her defence, ultimately aiding her in her quest to spread plus-size representation. We caught up with La’Shaunae to discuss shoes, self worth, and being short.
Hi! How did you come to collaborate with Jeffrey Campbell?
Last November my friend Sanam gifted me a pair of Jeffrey’s boots. They were thigh-high blue boots. And they didn’t fit! When I was telling [her] that I was obsessed with them, but they didn’t fit my size, she was like, “I’m going to get Jeffrey to fix this.” Two weeks later she told me they wanted me to come out there.
What was the process of working together like?
Well, we did a fitting where they took my sizes, and all my measurements, and we fitted a bunch of different styles of shoe. They played with the width, the entire sizing.
What’s your favorite style?
I love platforms.
Do you feel like there’s a sense of community around Instagram that there isn’t IRL?
On Instagram I didn’t really have followers until last year, when the Thrasher meme thing happened, when I wore a Thrasher shirt and everyone went crazy. It was like, “Why is she wearing a Thrasher shirt if she’s fat and can’t skate.” A lot of people went totally insane and started making memes of me. I gained 50,000 followers from that, and there were times I deleted hundreds of pictures of myself and blocked a lot of people. A lot of people can’t stay in their place, they think it’s okay to tell someone they’re going to die before they’re a certain age, or tell me that I’m promoting being fat just by existing.
That sounds awful — what makes you want to keep going on social media?
I don’t know! There have been so many times when I just wanted to give up. Since I graduated high school I’ve wanted to be a plus-size model, because of how bullied I was growing up. I’ve been experimenting with a lot of styles, because I realised how major I saw myself as! Ever since I’ve just been experimenting with my style and trying to show the world who I am. I just haven’t been given a fair chance because every modelling agency I’ve applied to has told me I’m too short! I’ve been fighting so hard to just make my mom proud and make myself proud, and to prove to girls who are my size or bigger that they can do it too. And I just want a fair chance like everyone else.
You also give a lot of people life through your Instagram. What inspires you?
I try to wear things that people say I can’t wear! People say, “Why the fuck is she wearing that, she’s too big to wear that.” I get a lot of my inspiration from drag queens, and also designers like Thierry Mugler, Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gaultier. These designers don’t even make stuff for bigger people! They’re still my inspo but I wish they did bigger sizes. I mean, I can’t afford it, but they can still inspire my looks!
Where do you get your clothes?
I search super hard. I have a Jean-Paul Gaultier shirt I got on Etsy. It’s super stretchy. And I search all the time in thrift shops but I never find anything.
Your hat game is strong.
Thank you! The blue and white one is No Sesso. I love big, colorful, or fluffy hats!
Where do you find inspiration for your unique beauty look?
Most of my eyeshadows are from Pat McGrath, and her colours are so genius. I really love gold and blues — I like primary colours on my eyes. Recently I’ve been doing bleached brows, and it’s so frustrating because they grow out so fast. It’s been such a look for me lately! Pat McGrath is everything. I want to work with her one day!
What would your dream job be?
I want to be signed to an agency and modelling in big magazines! And I don’t want to be hidden anymore. I want to get what I deserve. I want my own store, and have girls who look like me on the runway at New York Fashion Week. I would love to work with other girls who look like me, I just want more diversity. Even when modelling agencies say they’re diverse, their models aren’t [shorter] than 5’7” or bigger than a size 16. A lot of plus-size girls don’t look like that, when are we going to see someone who does look like us? So many people don’t relate to plus size girls who are being shown right now. They’re beautiful, but we need to represent the girls who aren’t being shown.
This article originally appeared on i-D US.