Make Your Timeline Instapositive!

In the world of social media, I’ve always been puzzled by the narrative that it’s this absolute evil that hates women and leeches off of the souls of youth. While I understand that the media shapes the schematics of larger systems like patriarchy, I also want to acknowledge that we have the agency to choose what we see on our own social media feeds. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter are little worlds in the palm of your hand that you create. If you create a little world that you carry around with you that only features the idealized image of a woman: thin, cis, white, facetuned as all hell… well, then, of course you'll feel like you couldn’t compare. You can’t. Because you’re most likely a normal person with a normal budget who cannot afford waist trainers and plastic surgeons to cut and paste aspects of your body to make it look like a Kardashian or Jenner.

So I’d like to challenge you to make your little world more inclusive. We all have the capability to change the timelines we consume. If you want to make a dent in the patriarchal, emphasized femininity that rules the ideal image of a woman, then it starts with who you personally follow. Less follows, less demand. More follows, more demand. Follow fewer accounts that promote Flat Tummy Teas, and follow more accounts that promote rejection of emphasized femininity.

I attribute this practice in large part to why I don’t have body image issues like I used to. Because I see what normal bodies look like on a daily basis, I’m less concerned with looking like the idealized woman. I’m comfortable in my Kit-Kat shaped, hip-dipped, and broad-shouldered flesh vessel. It’s a great flesh vessel! It takes care of me, so I take care of it. I realized that it was essential for me to stop looking at my body as an ornament and more as an instrument. I credit the following body positive advocates on Instagram for this change in perspective:

1. Megan Jayne Crabbe / @bodyposipanda - Megan Crabbe was my first exposure to body positivity on Instagram. She is this colorful soul who preaches the realities of everyday life; from dancing in her underwear to crying because her dog died, she shows that life is not a highlight reel. As a survivor of debilitating anorexia masked as just being a gym rat, she wants to abolish the thinspo we see and show more of what the world actually looks like, inside and out. She wants to show the world that happiness is not equated to a number on a scale, as she is the happiest she’s ever been at her heaviest.

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2. Michelle Elman / @scarrednotscared - Michelle Elman is a BOSS. She’s a sassy lady who is here to disrupt the space. She wants to abolish the idea that concern for health is a valid reason at all to be fatphobic. She was born in a slew of health issues, so by the time she was eleven, she had had as many surgeries as years of life. She was considered unhealthy. But she refuses to be anyone’s sob story. She doesn’t think unhealthy means she is less deserving of respect or love or care. Regardless, her health (or lack thereof) has more to do with the fact that she's struggled with brain tumors since her birth, not because of her weight. Whatever the reason, she demands that people stop policing and criticizing their and others' bodies.

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3. Jen Brett / @jenbretty - Jen Brett is a little sunflower of a human being. It’s honestly not hard to enjoy her as a person. Not only does she post spicy photos of herself, but she has a vlog that is DELIGHTFUL. Between getting real about her life and reinforcing the positivity within it, she presents the best of both worlds and overall how the quality of her life has improved. Like Megan, Jen was a gym rat that became so obsessed with counting macros it reached the point of disordered eating. Jen now works on reinventing her relationship to exercise by using it to celebrate her body rather than try to lose weight.

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4. Kelly U / @_kellyu – Kelly U is also a survivor of disordered eating, with her journey dating back all the way to when she was twelve years old. Not knowing it even had a name, her young, impressionable self heard what a boy negatively said about a girl in a bikini and felt uncomfortable in her own body. Now, she discusses her journey, the nuances of disordered eating, ways to fix it, and loving yourself overall, despite the world telling you not to. She also runs a jewelry business called the Warrior Collective with necklaces and bracelets stamped with reminders of self-love so people can carry affirmations with them everywhere. A bonus – the organization she runs the business through, Peas and Love, donates 25% of proceeds to non-profit organizations.

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5. Natalie Held / @natateaaa – Natalie Held is a university student (and fellow Her Campus writer for Boston University!) who advocates for body positivity and feminism all around. As a female ballerina who avidly uses social media, she has seen the adversity against bodies that go against emphasized femininity and wants to change the way we view ourselves. She even has a podcast, Blessed Be The Brains, that talks about issues like the app Facetune, lack of intersectionality, and other political/ideological issues. Bonus: not only is she sharp and intellectual, but she is HILARIOUS. Someone who makes me laugh AND feel good about myself? Count me in!

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This handful of women is just a drop in the ocean of wonderful body positive advocates and feminists on Instagram. I strongly believe that we have free will to change the mold of the ways bodies are portrayed on social media. Again, the less we as a collective whole follow and support people on Instagram who promote the idea that women and men need to change their bodies, the less those people will be prevalent. Of course, it's the responsibility of corporations for using these influencers as pawns in the larger schematic that is patriarchy, but corporations can and do respond to what the public at large demands. It’s astonishing to me that so many people out there suffer from body image issues and eating disorders, and yet continue to support influencers on Instagram that sell Flat Tummy Teas and appetite suppressant lollipops. Our bodies aren’t here to make people comfortable. They’re here to exist, function, breathe, run, dance, smile, and live.

My advice: take up space. In and out of social media. Make yourself known, from the size of your thighs to the volume of your voice. Let yourself feel good about your presence because, at the end of the day, you are not limited to what other people say you can or cannot do. You are the sole determiner of that, and starting with what media you choose to consume is an easy first step towards becoming who you want to be.