Celebrate diversity with these inspirational influencers
[CW: This article includes discussion of eating disorders and anorexia]
Social media is an amazing, multifaceted platform with the power to bring individuals together from all over the world. It also has the potential to make people feel super depressed. I know from personal experience that scrolling through hundreds of posts of people’s perfect lives, flat tummies, and impeccable skin can have a noticeably negative impact on how someone views themselves.
Eventually, I realised that comparing myself to flawless social media influencers and their content was never going to help me feel good about being me. So, I decided to switch up my social feeds to include more individuals who subvert our picture-perfect modern expectations of bodies, beauty, and happiness. I follow…
@bodyposipanda, to remember size does not equal joy
Lately there are a lot of people who come here and tell me that I’m doing it wrong. That there’s nothing bad about dieting or wanting to lose weight. That I shouldn’t be celebrating the body types I do. That I’ve gone ‘too far’ or that I’m promoting the wrong things. But here’s the reality: there are so many spaces you can go to and be congratulated on weight loss. There are millions of diet plans, endless articles on getting the ‘perfect’ body, and countless images of the body type our culture teaches us we should all strive for. Those are the spaces I grew up around, and boy did I learn the lesson well. I learned how to lose weight, I learned how to hate my body, I learned that chasing thinness was the only way to be beautiful, and the only way to be happy. It’s taken me a LONG time to unlearn those lessons. And I plan on showing as many people as I can that they can unlearn them too. Because honestly? We all deserve so much better than how we’ve been taught to see ourselves. The body positive community is our safe space. It’s the one corner of the internet you can go to where no matter how you look, you’re good enough. It won’t pressure you into believing that you can only be happy once you’re smaller. It won’t shame you for how many calories you eat or how many miles you can run. It won’t tell you that your value lies in whatever number comes up on the scale. It’s the space that I needed so badly all those years ago. So you can think that I’m doing this wrong all you like, I’ll keep going. I’ll keep creating a safe space where that girl on the left can’t be hurt anymore. And for all of you out there who’ve never been told before that you’re good enough already. You will ALWAYS be good enough here. ✨P.S. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LOOK LIKE THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT FOR YOUR STRUGGLES TO BE VALID! EATING DISORDERS COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES, THIS IS ONLY ONE REPRESENTATION. EDs ARE MENTAL ILLNESSES, NOT WEIGHTS. WHATEVER SIZE, YOU ARE WORTHY OF RECOGNITION AND SUPPORT. SENDING SO MUCH LOVE TO ALL MY ED WARRIORS ✨
A post shared by Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) on
Megan Jayne Crabbe is one of the most well-known faces in the online body positivity movement. Her Instagram is full of inspirational blurbs and awesome pics of her celebrating her body, but she is equally ready to share her bad days or get real about her past struggles with anorexia.
“I want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be emotionally vulnerable. It’s okay to talk about mental health,” Crabbe wrote, in reference to the sometimes overwhelming positivity on social media. “You don’t always have to show the highlight reel online when sometimes, the highlight reel is a lie.”
@sitting_pretty, to learn about life through different eyes
I have a very visible physical impairment – my legs don’t walk. It’s something people notice (the wheelchair tends to be a giveaway). It prompts lots of questions, offers for help, two thumbs-up and sad faces. I know how to talk about it – I tell people again and again, “I’m okay, I’ve got it, I’m fine, more than fine – really.” . There are lots of other things going on in my body that I don’t talk about as much – some of it a consequence of radiation aimed at my spine when I was three, other parts a result of being paralyzed most of my life, some of it genetic, some of it mysterious – chronic back pain, forever battles with UTIs and hemorrhoids, interstitial cystitis, polycystic kidney disease, hypertension, hypothyroid, kidneys that don’t hold onto potassium or magnesium, migraines, anxiety, fighting pressure sores on my bum, wounds that won’t heal on my feet and legs. Some days none of this matters much and other days it feels incapacitating. . I have complicated feelings about these invisible forces at work in my body and no easy words. I usually avoid bringing it up, because – I don’t know – I don’t want to be a drag? Nobody knows to ask? Or maybe, I don’t want to muddy the message I’m usually trying so hard to hold up to the world: MY LIFE IS NOT SAD – I’M GOOD, REALLY. It’s such hard work, getting people to receive that message. Why risk complicating it? . Because – whether we like to admit it or not – we all have complicated bodies that are forever changing on us, and, to me, the end goal is not to say, “See? I’m practically the same as all you folks without disabilities! I’m okay, I’m still human!” I’d rather we all operate under the fundamental understanding that every single body – whether we see it or not – is rich with complicated histories that we won’t understand at a glance – that we might not ever understand. “See? Having a body – any body – is weird and wonderful and defeating and exhilarating and will probably only get messier with time. Let’s all take a deep breath, open our hands and our minds, our systems and our structures. We’re okay, and we’re not okay. We’re human.”
Rebekah Taussig is a teacher, writer, and activist who utilises her Instagram as a platform for “mini-memoirs” about life as a woman in a wheelchair. Her posts vary from pictures of her taking a moment to dance in a yellow sundress, to talking with her niece about her paralysed legs.
“Disability representation is reduced to inspiration or tragedy, and my daily experience says, ‘Let’s blur these lines and make a mess,’” wrote Taussig, about how being a Real Life Cripple subverts expectations of what it is to be disabled.
@mynameisjessamyn to see strength in all forms
Y’all, since returning home to North Carolina most recently, I have been trying to lay as low as humanly possible. I may seem gregarious but the extroverted introvert struggle is real. At this point, I don’t want to do anything but spend time with my family, friends, cat, dog, and yoga mat. Frequently, when I’m at home, I will cut myself off from social media entirely because I can feel it sapping out my energy. As much as I love it, all of this stuff can make me feel like Narcissus looking into that damn pool of water and I have to train myself to look away as often as I can. I’m covering for babygirl Jessica Cuttance at @durhamyoga this week, y’all- I’m teaching the noon flow on Thursday, see y’all there! Bathing suit by @additionelle Photo by @zoelitaker
Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga teacher and body positivity advocate, known for founding Every Body Yoga classes: which encourage students of all shapes and sizes to let go of fear and get on the mat. Along with pics of some insane yoga poses, Stanley’s Instagram posts also feature frank conversations about her journey of finding self-worth.
“Everyone’s body starts out at its own definition of weak—whether that weakness is physical, mental, or emotional,” Stanley told Yoga Journal. “The most important part of practicing yoga is that even when our weaknesses cause us to fall, whether it’s on or off the mat, are we able to strengthen ourselves in response?”
@notoriouslydapper to get a shot of confidence
Kelvin Davis is the creator of the body positive men’s fashion blog Notoriously Dapper, which aims to show men of size how to dress stylishly despite limitations they may face when clothes shopping. Davis posts his outfits to Instagram along with quick tips on how a good outfit can make all the difference in both the personal and professional world.
“I would say style helped me overcome those body image issues because I knew that no matter how many stretch marks I had, no matter how funny I walked, no matter how bald I got, I would still be the best dressed guy in the room,” Davis shared with Revelist.
@abearnamedtroy, to examine identity
Troy Solomon is one of the fashion industry’s leading plus-size male models, and a self-described “self-loving unicorn in a bear’s body.” Solomon’s Instagram showcases his unique sense of style, while promoting genderqueer body positivity by modelling for women’s plus-size brands, including Torrid.
“I know that a lot of what I do and what I put out into the social media realm can be considered controversial for a lot of people,” Solomon told Mic. “I tend to blur the line between gender roles and how they are reflected in fashion and I know this is still a relatively new concept, but a very important one.”
@isupersheng to know any change worth making takes time
Ok, so this totally looks like a pose from the opening credits to a cheesy soap opera (which I would know nothing about 😉 (my favorite was OLTL)). I’ve been thinking a lot lately, sorry if this is a bit ramble-y… When I first came out, I used to ask myself questions like, “What makes a man?” and “What kind of man do I want to be?” Even though I knew gender norms weren’t concrete and were meant to be broken, I was determined to be a good man– whatever that meant. I don’t regret asking myself those questions, as they reflected where I was at the point in my life. By now, I would hope that I’ve become a “good man.” But more importantly, I would hope that I’ve become a good person, whatever that may mean. // #ftm #transgender #transisbeautiful #selflove #growth #evolution #humpday #rambles
Leo Sheng is a transgender activist known for documenting his transition via Instagram to help educate others about the process. Sheng shares pictures of his surgery scars to show how they have healed over time, and information about taking testosterone as part of his transition. He also posts about everyday life as a trans man.
“Though I have a great deal of pride in my trans identity, I know that it is a privilege to be as visible as I am, and that my pride looks very different from another person’s pride,” Sheng wrote in June for LGBT Pride Month. “The way I celebrate myself may not be the same way that someone else celebrates themselves. And, the degree of one’s pride does NOT make them any more or less valid as a queer person.”