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Ten Body Positive Models to Follow on Instagram

“Given the emphasis on photo sharing in today’s social networking tools (ie Facebook, Instagram) as well as the increased likelihood that girls will post photos compared to boys, it may be that online, girls are drawn to comparisons that are more self-relevant, and thus more threatening to self-worth (Stefanone et al. 2011).”

The above quote appears in a 2016 research paper entitled: Using Social Media for Social Comparison and Feedback-Seeking: Gender and Popularity Moderate Associations with Depressive Symptoms. As we all know, social media usage has exploded over the last 15 years and is only continuing to grow. Yet while social media is hailed for its ability to connect people from all over the world, recent research has shown that increased social media usage correlates with increased depression. Researchers believe that this increase in depression is likely not due to a singular cause, but rather a combination of a great number of causes. One potential cause, as mentioned in the quote above, may be the rising levels of comparison on photo-sharing social medias (particularly in girls). While this is not a problem that can be solved easily or completely, it can certainly be worked on. To do so, we have to focus on the root of the problem: the media’s clear message that a woman is beautiful only if her body fits a very specific and, for many women, unrealistic mold. Below are 10 models on instagram that break the mold on what the perfect body is in order to dispel this societal notion and to help normalize normal bodies.

Ashley Graham 

If you’ve heard of anyone on this list before, it’s probably Ashley Graham. Her work in making the fashion industry more size inclusive has been revolutionary. It’s simply not possible to give her all the credit she deserves without writing an entire book! She also made history in 2016, by becoming the first plus size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swim issue. Ashley and her husband recently welcomed a baby boy, Isaac, and she has been very open about her pregnancy, breastfeeding, and embracing her post-baby body. 

 

Instagram: @ashleygraham

 

Brielle Anyea

Brielle is a model and businesswoman, recently starting her own swimwear brand: Missesbrie. She is passionate about passing on tips and tricks about modeling and entrepreneurship to other women. A 2020 Sports Illustrated Swim Search model, Brielle is helping to break down barriers and make mainstream fashion a place where women of all sizes, shapes, and colors can see themselves represented. 

 

Instagram: @missesbrielle

 

Jess Megan

Jess is an outspoken, clear and true feminist. She uses her social media platform to voice her opinion on many important, but often not frequently discussed, topics. Many of these fall under the category of debunking societal gender roles and gender inequality, for example, she calls out both the stigma against female pleasure and the idea that a woman’s body is only beautiful if it is appealing to the male eye. Her energy, positivity, and clear belief in being unapologetically yourself is what every woman deserves to be surrounded by.

 

Instagram: @jess_megan_

 

Natalia Lorenzo

Natalia is someone who I think college girls, in particular, would find very personable and relatable. Maybe that’s because she’s only 22! Natalia is not especially outspoken about body positivity on her instagram, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t all for it. In fact, I think this may make her an even more powerful role model to young women by showing that she does not have to “justify” showing off her body simply because she is plus-sized. She is confident in herself and does not need to prove that to anyone else. 

 

Instagram: @lordenzo_ 

 

Kate Wasely 

This Australian model strikes me as an incredibly humble and genuine woman who has learned to grow into, accept, and love the body she is living in now. Looking back, Kate can see that the body she has today is much healthier than the body she had when she was suffering from an eating disorder, even if it is bigger. She uses her platform to spread this message that health is not a one size fits all concept that you can fully assess simply by judging a person’s exterior to other young women who may feel insecure about their ‘bigger’ bodies. 

Instagram: @katewas_

Bri Martinez

Bri, an LA based model, is upbeat, confident, and maybe more importantly - transparent. Even the most confident seeming people have times where they aren’t feeling themselves. This is not talked about very often, but Bri does a great job of introducing and normalizing the subject. In addition, she is very candid about the power of posing on social media and how it’s unhealthy to be comparing yourself to these posed photos. Nobody looks like their instagram photos 100% of the time, and Bri will be the first to tell you so. 

 

Instagram: @brimartinezz

 

Tabria Majors

Tabria’s confidence and positive outlook on life are contagious. A nominee for the Shorty Award in Best Fashion, she has modeled for many mainstream, popular brands such as FashionNova, Calvin Klein, and Forever 21. She also walked in the SavagexFenty fashion show, was featured in Sports Illustrated’s swim issue in 2018, and recently debuted her own swimwear collection with Fashion to Figure. She is all for women supporting women, advocating for plus size women in the fashion industry, and, more specifically, showing that plus size models can wear and sell lingerie just as well as straight size models can.

 

Instagram: @tabriamajors

 

Sonny Turner

Sonny’s modeling career has taken off in the last few years even while completing her university degree. She’s modeled for well known brands like Aerie, ASOS, and PrettyLittleThing and has also walked in both the London Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. On social media and in real life, Sonny is the life of the party and is a great role model for showing that you should never let your height, weight, size, or anything else stop you from having fun and living life with no regrets. 

 

Instagram: @sonnyturner__

 

Makela Saint Fort

Makela is a Candian model and an avid dog lover. If that isn’t enough reason to like her, she also uses her social media to speak honestly and directly on everything from body image and normalizing so-called ‘flaws’ like cellulite and stretch marks to mental health, relationships, and life in general! This is even more present on her second account, @makelasaintfort2, an account created specifically for connecting with female followers and creating genuine, relatable content. 

 

Instagram: @makelasaintfort

 

La'Tecia Thomas

La’Tecia is one of three women listed who have surpassed one million followers on Instagram. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, she made history as the first plus size model to walk in an Australian fashion show. La’Tecia uses her youtube channel to expand on the body positive ideals she introduces on her Instagram, as well as to discuss similar topics like the impact of the diet industry and her experience shopping as a plus size woman. Outside of her career, La’Tecia has also made headlines from being previously engaged to Lil Wayne! 

 

Instagram: @lateciat

 

Quite often in mainstream media, women are indoctrinated with the idea that beauty can be achieved only if you check all of the “right” boxes. Because of this, it’s not surprising research shows that “girls are more likely [than boys] to prioritize and compare themselves on dimensions of physical attractiveness online (Haferkamp and Kramer 2011; Jones 2001)”. While it’s impossible to completely eradicate negative comparison on social media, incorporating more body-positive influences into your Instagram feed is a great way to start. I encourage you to follow some of these women and see what it’s like to follow people who make you feel good about yourself. In doing so, and in encouraging friends and family to do the same, hopefully we can start to normalize the fact that beauty is not, and will never be, a size, weight, or race-specific entity. 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853817/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5985443/

Jessie is a junior at Michigan State University majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science. In her free time, she loves taking naps, ice cream, traveling, hanging out with friends, and watching Netflix.
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