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A Media Review of Body Positivity on Instagram

“I am allowed to release thoughts, energy, and people that do not serve my higher self.” -Alex Elle

 

It’s been super awesome following body-positivity centered Instagrams this semester to gear up for this project. I’ve been validated, respected, and been enlightened with the positivity and community of women/womyn all across the world. The cool thing about social media is that it has the built-in ability to connect anyone. We’re all sharing different threads of the same story.

 

In just one woman I follow alone, I’ve seen her content and felt more assured in myself. I see her content and see women not as weapons against each other, but as sisters.

 

Women are not weapons against each other. I will not accept the way in which big corporations (through media) and men (through small acts that negate friendship) use women as means to an end against each other.

 

Comparing women creates competition. Men, and their corporations, can be compared as they manifest in the lives and careers of women. No woman is better than any woman.

 

If you’re on social media, I highly recommend following some phenomenal, brilliant women who use their platforms to create bonds between women. Also called the body-positivity community, influencers like Kelly U, Gina Susanna, Megan Jayne Crabbe, and Alex Elle promote the inclusion of love between each relationship between all women. Despite good intention, some strange things and concepts are promoted through this movement.

In this article, we’re going to dive into 1) accepting and loving the body positivity community and movement and 2) not accept it blindly. Let’s go review some posts.

  1. “bringing sexy back?” by Kelly U

 

 

What a solid post to begin this media critique with. Kelly’s post is bold, breaking taboo, and accepting of her own body and supportive of others. Kelly uses this post (above) to promote the reclamation of the sexuality of women! That’s very cool.

 

If you click on the image, you can see that the swimsuit Kelly is wearing is made by Aerie. Since she tagged Aerie, it can be assumed that the post was a paid sponsorship by the company. By tagging and making money from Aerie’s sponsorship, Kelly is associating and supporting the organization that 1) promotes body positivity and inclusivity and 2) doesn’t have sizing or advertisements that include all women. Pros and cons. What do you think?

2. Kelly U “Sometimes, it’s funky for me to take off my clothes and get into new ones because all I think is: I’ll have to ‘deal with my body‘.”

 

 

 

The last post of Kelly’s I want to talk about is this one about growing to be comfortable within your body as it changes. Finishing her post with “This is my body. This body needs nurturing.

& it all starts in our beautiful minds,”  Kelly accepts her struggles and empowers her following to love their bodies for the flaws they were taught that they had.

The message Kelly spreads is phenomenal and necessary. However, once again, her post is tagged with Aerie as the bralette and underwear. Changing bodies don’t always fit into Aerie’s stuff! Do you feel like the sponsorship and message of the post kind of contradict?

3. Gina Susanna’s “IT’S OFFICIALLY NEDA WEEK”

 

 

 

Gina Susanna has a cool message. Unlike most body-positivity community members or influencers, takes her message into action. On April 21st, she marched in the NEDA Awareness March at SIUE and talked about her experience over Instagram stories (24-hour posts to Instagram).

Her posts highlight other body-positivity influencers, love, and mental health awareness. She recognizes the ups and downs of recovery, and empowers her audience to celebrate and support their wins.

Despite the phenomenal, constant messaging, Gina’s posts and movement have been very Aerie-centric. Advertising the collaboration between Aerie and NEDA, Gina’s post highlights the importance of sharing one’s own story, right before asking her followers to buy Aerie’s products, of which 100% of the profits go to NEDA.

What if you can’t afford the shirts? What if you can’t fit into them?

4. Megan Jayne Crabbe’s “What did you do this morning Megan?”

 

 

 

Like Gina, Megan Jayne Crabbe also uses her platform for direct action. In the post above, Megan is discussing her involvement with the #WeAreCurves and #RulesRewritten movement. In these movements, in which Crabbe and several women who don’t fit conventional, corporate beauty standards and sizing took to the streets of London on a frigid January day to protest mean and exclusive branding and messaging.

At the end of the post, Crabbe empowers her following to act on what they believe in. To go out and do something about something you care about.

How. Cool. Is. She.

Another cool thing about the post is its sponsorship. Instead of tagging and making money from an exclusive corporation, Crabbe’s content is proudly sponsored by Simply Be UK, a small organization demanding the style and fit in mainstream fashion. How cool is that? Body positivity influencers don’t have to use their platforms to be bought out by one, overarching corporation. With effort, they can use their platforms to support inclusive, smaller organizations ran and lead by women.

More of that, please!

5. Alex Elle’s “Yesterday marked six weeks postpartum and more than ever I feel at home in my body.”

 

 

 

Though Alex Elle isn’t known for her inclusion in the mainstream body-positivity community that is dependent upon sponsorship for survival, she is a part of the community. Often posting pictures of her own prose and supporting her own work, Elle uses her platform to uplift the survivorship of herself and her own message, not the message of others.

In the post above, Elle discusses the lessons of growing in life and the resilience that growing empowers. Mentioning the magic of motherhood, this is the first post and influencer I’ve seen talk about the responsibility and life within motherhood and raising daughters.

Elle takes pride in the strength of her body, it’s stretch marks, scars, dimples, and imperfections. She uses her appreciation of her body to continue blooming. She uses her appreciation of her body as stepping stone for self-love. For more blooming.

6. Alex Elle’s “loving your entire”

 

 

 

For the last post, I’d like to toss in something hopeful. Once again, Alex Elle uses her platform to support the economic successes of herself in her Instagram posts. Putting one of her poems from her novel as the caption, Elle claims herself, her body, and her art. She is using her own platform, on her own terms, to support what she wants to.

She is defining her own movement. She is claiming her own art. She is turning her platform into change of not only the culture through her art, but of the way in which body-positivity can be done in a way that isn’t selling out to big businesses.

Moving on, I’d like to encourage you readers to keep your social media timelines and lives filled with as much love and affirmation as possible. Accept the love, cherish the journey, and never absorb anything blindly. Go forth and bloom.

Check out this article for more.

Founder and former Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus chapter at Saint Louis University. Graduating in May 2020 with degrees in Public Health and Women's and Gender Studies. Committed to learning about and spreading awareness for a more self-aware public health field, intersectional feminism, and college radio. Retweet this bio and enter a drawing for a free smartphone!
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