I’m Showing Plus-Sized Black Women They Can Feel Empowered Through Fashion

Photo: Courtesy of Simi Muhumuza.
In a sea of social media sameness, it’s incredibly refreshing to scroll through content creator and model Simi Muhumuza’s Instagram and Tik Tok pages, where she goes by @simimoonlight. There, you’ll find a colorful mix of GRWM (Get Ready With Me) videos, Black-owned fashion, cultural commentary, personal reflections, and more recently, her Style Therapy series. A former psychology student, Muhumuza uses this series as a way to talk to her nearly 500,000-strong audience about everything from outfit repetition confidence to how style can help fuel your personal growth. 
Muhumuza’s online presence is unique in more than one way. Her signature colorful style is apparent the moment you click on her page, but upon further inspection you’ll find a vulnerability that is hard to find on the Internet—especially in the content creator space. It’s an approach to social media that Muhumuza developed over time. “This past decade of being online has really helped me figure out what my personal boundary is when it comes to sharing and the details of what I share,” she tells Unbothered over Zoom. “I think I really found the perfect balance of being vulnerable, but also still withholding the more personal information for myself. People don't need to know the details. They just need to know that it's okay to feel this way despite whatever people might think your life is.”
Though it can be difficult to be vulnerable online, Muhumuza insists that it’s important to be transparent, and that doing so shouldn’t be viewed negatively. “It's okay to have feelings,” she maintains. “It's okay for people to know that you're not okay, or it's okay for people to know that you are okay. It's okay to share your thoughts.” 
Photo: Courtesy of Simi Muhumuza.
As a self-proclaimed black and neutrals-wearing girlie, I looked on in amazement—and a little envy—when I first came across Muhumuza’s content last year. Her page was splattered with bold greens, fiery oranges, teals, pinks, yellows. Long boots and layers, corsets and curves. Curly red hair. It was LOUD, and without having yet met her, I knew it was totally ‘Simi’. That’s by design, and it’s a style approach that she hopes inspires her audience. “I have always been very anti-neutral because for me it almost feels like we’re consistently putting ourselves in this neutral space, almost to the point where we all have the same uniform,” she reflects. “I have always encouraged Black people to not wear the uniform. Don't wear the uniform! It's not you; it's something for the sake of muting you, of putting you in a space where you're malleable and digestible. To me, wearing color is the unmute button.”

To me, wearing color is the unmute button.

simi Muhumuza
Taking up space in the form of fashion isn’t a foreign concept for Black women, who have been on the forefront of trends since, well, forever. However, for people who prefer to play it safe with their style, pressing that unmute button can seem daunting. A neutral wardrobe can take guesswork out of dressing, but for those who are looking to experiment, Muhumuza has some great advice. “There are so many subtle ways to add color to your palette,” she points out. “It doesn't have to be, you know, a rainbow dress. It can be a small accessory, it can be a bag, it can be glasses. Just adding it little by little into your closet can really help you build a relationship to color and also build a uniform that is not the same as everyone else's.”
For anyone who has tried to be intentional about developing their own personal style, they know it’s much easier said than done. It’s difficult to ignore the one million suggestions of how one should look and dress, and figure out what you actually like. Muhumuza shares that her personal style only developed when she blocked out the noise. “I really had to go inward,” she confesses.  
“I'm not really pressed about being the most fashionable, the most this, the most that, because it's all so subjective. Being able to train myself to really value my own taste has helped so much with my confidence.”
That’s not to say that Muhumuza avoids trends entirely; she just makes them work for her – an endeavor that’s been healing in and of itself. “I did a Style Therapy reel on 2000s fashion and how it's coming back. Being able to dress how my younger self wanted to dress but couldn't [at the time] was such a healing process for me,” she shares. “It was such an inner child thing that I didn't realize I needed until I was doing it.” As a full-figured woman, reclaiming styles intended for the thin beauty standard of the Y2K-era, and even today, was a crucial part of Muhumuza’s style journey. “It was important for me to learn that it's not my body that needs manipulating; it's the clothes that need manipulating. The clothes are meant to be the malleable thing,” she emphasizes. “It'll be simple stuff, like, if a dress doesn't fit that would be a part of a trend, I'll make it into a shirt and I’ll layer it with something else. Or if a dress doesn't fit the way I wanted to, I'll make it into a skirt. There are so many different ways to manipulate clothing in ways that we don't think about every day. That really helped me see my body in those trends.” 

It was important for me to learn that it's not my body that needs manipulating; it's the clothes that need manipulating. The clothes are meant to be the malleable thing.

simi muhumuza
Muhumuza’s approach to fashion goes even deeper than feeling confident in her skin. “When you look at style as more than just putting clothes on and moreso figuring out who you are or who you want to be, it’s powerful. It can even be used as a manifestation tool,” she offers. “When I first started wearing clothes and sharing it publicly, I had no idea that my life would be what it is now. But I knew that every time I got a dress, I wanted to feel as though my life was where I wanted it to be. Whatever you want your life to look like, imagine what you would wear in that moment, and wear it. Even if you have to find a dupe of it, just wear the dupe. Do what it is that you need to do to have that self-image. And then the rest of the manifestation will come. At least for me, that's how it happened.”
The recent Savage x Fenty model can definitely share a thing or two about manifestation and dressing for the life you want. After a reel of hers showcasing a stunning, form-fitting birthday dress and carefree enjoyment went viral, she was tapped to be a part of the latest campaign for Bad Gal Riri herself. “When I got [on set], I saw the art direction board. And they had a screenshot of me [from the reel] on the board and I was like, oh shit. This is for real. Y'all really handpicked me for this,” Muhumuza recounted. “Rihanna has really tried to push for inclusivity in this particular space in so many ways. I was honored to be a part of it.”
Photo: Courtesy of Simi Muhumuza.
That representation is long needed, and the importance of being someone who showcases that is not lost on Muhumuza. “I'm really happy that the campaigns I've been in as a model have been for the sake of showing plus-size people that they, too, can be beautiful. They, too, can enjoy clothing, or lingerie, and feel sexy and empowered. I'm just very thankful and grateful for it.”
Ultimately, as her Style Therapy series and the way she lives her life shows, it all comes down to trusting herself. “I think the reason why I have been successful in this style pathway is because I just do me. I'm not trying to be anyone else. I look in the mirror and I feel good as myself with the things that I choose to wear. And that's really all that matters to me.”

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