Self-proclaimed curve model, La’shaunae Steward, isn’t just selling brands… she’s inspiring them.
Jeffrey Campbell, the global footwear choice for followers of edgy fashion, recently announced he was collaborating with Steward, on a range meant for everyBODY. And the credit is due to the body activist.
Steward, who Instagram followers will recognise as @luhshawny, told online magazine GirlBoss, that she’d: “… loved Jeffrey Campbell since I was in middle school but I never could afford his shoes, so I’m really excited.”
Her friend, Sanam Sindh, is the creative director of Jeffrey Campbell. She says the two were having a discussion about the portrayal of larger women of colour.
In an interview with Refinery21. Steward said: “I was telling her how a lot of the boots don’t fit thicker legs, and as my friend – who knows how the fashion world doesn’t celebrate fat brown women enough – she saw this as an opportunity for me, an under-appreciated curve model.”
The 21-year-old from South Carolina first gained attention last year after a photo she posted to social media became the subject of a cruel meme. She decided to use the online bullying to her advantage, and over a year later is now boasting almost 71,000 Instagram followers; a collaboration with a global footwear brand; and is refusing to slow down anytime soon.
“I just want to show girls that they can do it. A lot of [girls my size] want to be models, and they’re constantly told they’re too fat or they’re too short. But I’m not going to give up, because it’s something I have to do,” she said.
Over 65 per cent of women in Australia are larger than a size 16, yet are sorely under-represented in the fashion community. Steward wants this to become a non-issue and is continuing to fight for body diversity in the modelling industry and size inclusivity in fashion brands.
“[I want to see] girls who actually look like me in high-fashion and walking the runways,” she said.
“Representation is so important. So many models are glamazons who are 5’7″ [173cms] or taller. They have small waists and perfect thighs. [For plus-size models, they’re] a size 16 at the biggest. And these are the women ‘representing’ all fat women. I’m 5’3″ [161cms] and bigger, [and I] also deserve the spotlight!”
Steward’s mission: “Always fighting for under 5’6, over a size 18+ brown girls to have a spot in the high end modeling and fashion world too.”
The highly anticipated collaboration will be released in a few weeks. Australians can find it online. – Shannen Findlay