Two Best Friends Use Matching Outfits To Promote Body Positivity With #StyleNotSize
Society – and the media – have been brainwashing us to believe that to be attractive, you’d have to have a certain look. Whether it’s your shape, size, colour, or what you choose to do with your hair and skin – we’ve had to change the way we look to appease and fit in. However, in more recent years, there has been a shift in the perception of these discriminatory beauty standards, with more and more people understanding that beauty is not defined by what we see in the media. But, it can be difficult to internalise this change when the media is taking so long to embrace this change. Because of underrepresentation, people are taking matters into their own hands and using social media to combat these issues. This is exactly what plus-size model, Denise Mercedes, and her best friend, Maria Castellanos have done. Using TikTok, the two have launched a TikTok challenge called ‘Style Not Size’.
With some videos accumulating over 4.7 million likes, the pair have taken social media by storm with their short videos proving that style fits all as size doesn’t matter. After the two met when Castellanos asked to photography Mercedes, the two hit it off. Castellanos shared how she first posted an image of her them both wearing the same bikini with the caption,
You might see two different girls, same swimsuit. I see two beautiful humans, same swimsuit 💛💚”
Speaking to Insider, they shared how they started to really warm up to the idea of wearing the same outfit and the thought that it would be great to highlight how the outfit would look on different body types with Mercedes being a size 14 and Castellanos a size two. The two shared their first TikTok video showing off their similar looks and they got more than 1.5 million views. This was when they decided that they wanted to make the outfit videos into a series. After asking their fans to choose between two options: a)#ThroughThickAndThin and b) #StyleNotSize, the latter won and thus their viral series was born.
Because of how viral their videos became, the girls decided that it was time to deviate from wearing similar clothing and focus on modelling the same outfits in different sizes. But, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, after all, they are two different individuals. Despite their similar taste in fashion, the two did disagree with what to wear and model.
When we are picking out items, there are certain things that I like that she doesn’t but she’s willing to try. We compromise and then when we try out the clothes, we realize how great we both look.”
Not only that, but they also take into consideration how diverse the brands are in terms of sizing, preferring to focus on brands with more options for sizes like ASOS. The beautiful pair model everything from crop tops to high-waisted jeans and bodycon dresses. Mercedes shared with Insider that she wants to focus on challenging the stigma against plus-sized women wearing certain clothing,
I love wearing outfits that society has said plus-size women shouldn’t wear. For example, they say plus-size women shouldn’t wear crop tops or show off their stomachs, so we like to do that because it’s the most controversial.”
However, as with all content on the internet, the feedback has not always been positive. The girls decided to continue doing what they’re doing because they got so much good feedback but, amongst that feedback has been criticism as well. Mercedes shared,
One thing that I found is people saying that I’m not a good representation of plus-size because I have an hourglass figure, which makes me feel bad,” Mercedes said. “At the end of the day, I’m a woman. I’m a plus-size woman. My shape shouldn’t mean that I can’t represent plus-size women. Plus-size women come in all shapes and sizes, but so do thin women.”
And as for Castellanos, she’s been shamed for being “too skinny”,
I knew skinny-shaming was a thing, but I didn’t realize it was that strong. People would say that I have an eating disorder and compare us to other people who were extremely unhealthy. The point is not to choose who looks better, it’s to show that we both look great in the same thing.”
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#stylenotsize has become so dear to me and to @denisemmercedes We've been so blessed to have so much support from others, to see growth in people and to see and understand what it is to be an influencer. To have young ladies reaching out about their insecurities and how we've helped overcome it or at least given them a hand to do so. We will continue to fight for this movement and to change the rules of the industry #fashion #nycfashion #nycbloggers #nycinfluencer #fashiondesign #ootd #outfitideas #outfitinspo #clothing #wtw wearing @boohoo #boohoo
Thankfully, the pair are not letting the critics dampen their fire.
We try our best, but there are always going to be negative comments and people who just don’t like what we do. We want to break the rules and open the eyes of the fashion industry by letting them know they should carry all sizes. The internet is the biggest bully, so we are just trying to show that you can be yourself and have fun with it.”
We need more people to continue doing what Mercedes and Castellanos are doing! Show your support to this more inclusive image of beauty and soon enough, we’ll find ourselves in a world where we are all able to love ourselves from the inside and out.
*Cover image credits: Background: Brina Blum on Unsplash Left: Maria Castellanos on Instagram Right & Middle: Denise Mercedes on Instagram