istorically, social media and the digital sphere haven't exactly been safe spaces for body positivity. Unrealistic ideals of beauty are still very much plastered around the world on nearly every visible surface, from billboards to film and TV to the Internet.
But Instagram, perhaps surprisingly, is leading the way on social media in the body positivity movement. People of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and confidence levels are sharing their stories — and their bodies — with hashtags like #bodypositivity, #bopo, #bodyacceptance, and #effyourbeautystandards, to promote the overdue notion that all bodies are beautiful and worthy.
These body positivity warriors are so inspiring that they'll make you want to rip off your shirt, climb a mountain, and post a bunch of pics of yourself. I say do it!
Plus model and creator of the #effyourbeautystandards hashtag, Tess Holliday, uses her platform to communicate the pride and confidence she has in her beautiful body and to illuminate the judgment and criticism she faces in her daily life for having the body she does.
I humbly direct all those negative people to Holliday’s fierce People magazine cover. This awesome woman is one of the most recognizable leaders of the body positive movement, and she won’t be stopped anytime soon.
Brands such as Aerie have launched campaigns like #AerieReal that make it their mission to hire real women with real curves to model their lingerie (woo!) and leave Photoshop out of the picture entirely (double woo!). Iskra Lawrence made a name for herself as a model for Aerie, and she uses her Instagram to share the message that every body is beautiful with her 3.5 million followers.
That’s better than what I use Instagram for. I just post pictures of my dog. But he also has a beautiful body, so it’s OK.
There’s probably no more famous model slash body activist than Ashley Graham right now. In 2016, she became the first size 16 model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, but that was a milestone she reached after years of cultivating an online presence as a confident, beautiful, outspoken woman who knows that beauty goes beyond size.
Life in the spotlight has afforded Graham the opportunity to engage with her fans and spread her message of love and positivity. She has her own clothing lines and a book and she’s my hero.
“Just Do You, Babe!” is Allison Kimmey‘s motto. The professional speaker, author, and body image activist uses her Instagram following to shout from the rooftops, or, you know, social media feeds, that “We are not DEFINED by our bodies, or circumstances, or lifestyle.”
Sing it, girl.
Olakemi is a model, body confidence activist, and founder of the #PlusIsDiverse movement. Not only does she promote acceptance and love of all body types, but she champions the cause of diversity in modeling and representation in media.