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Defining and Discussing Influencers and Body Positivity

I want to guide this conversation towards certain ideas so this article will be more conversational. Originally I was just going to share some of my favorite influencers, the things they helped me with, and how they could maybe help you. I began writing, and I realized there is a broader question that must be asked before I even dive into which influencers I follow: “why is the term ‘influencer’ looked down upon?” and “what do we as consumers do with this knowledge?” 

I want to break down the stigma around the phrase “influencer,” and I want to debunk the negative beliefs in the body image movement. I also want to look at the term “body positivity”.

Opinions surrounding the term “influencer”

There are various kinds of influencers, and I think each category has its place in this world. Some categories seem to be more surface level with makeup and clothing-based influencers. However, these content creators are still important to the followers who rely on them for information and advice. 

When the term “influencer” comes to mind, I’m sure you think of a thin, white woman with incredibly shiny blonde hair. Why is this the image we associate with the word “influencer?” And why is it that this same term is degraded over and over again? We do not think of men when we hear the term “influencer,” so is this just another way to criticize women for the way in which they make a living? I don’t necessarily have answers to these questions, but I think they are important things to think about. 

One of the articles I read states, “Generally speaking, women consider themselves part of the product, while men separate their notion of self from their labor, considering themselves its ‘creator.’” So here we have women labeled as “influencers” and men labeled as “creators.” These two words have entirely different meanings and lead to various feelings surrounding the language that is used and what feelings they evoke. Women being labeled as “influencers” highlights their ability to make a difference and influence the world and people around them. Men, on the other hand, are put at the center of things, as they are labeled as “creators”. Weight is not placed on the difference they make but on what they make. This difference in language alone shows how the attitudes surrounding men and women who make their living on social media are entirely different.”

Opinions surrounding the term “body positive”

Now, the term “body positive” is also rather controversial. Many believe body positivity promotes obesity. One article I found states, “Many people believe that the body positive movement has created an unhealthy culture that allows people to disregard the medical complications that often come with obesity.” Personally, I think this just points to the idea that weight doesn’t determine health. Someone can be overweight and be healthier than someone that fits into the “ideal beauty standard.” 

A term that has kind of been used more recently to describe this movement is “body neutrality.” This same article states “Body neutrality promotes accepting your body as is and recognizing its remarkable abilities and non-physical characteristics instead of the physical appearance.” However, I don’t see how this term eliminates the idea that health conditions might be disregarded in place of the term. 

These are terms that are being used to describe rather new ideas so it is interesting to think of where this will go in the future. I think all we can do right now is learn with those around us to determine what language best describes the idea of loving one’s self while also having little to no negative connotations.

My name is Emily Venné and I am a junior at Winona State University. I am double majoring in Literature and Language and also Writing Option. When my nose isn't buried in a book, I am either writing, hanging out with friends, or binge-watching my favorite tv shows. I dream of one day working in either publishing or editing, and maybe even writing a book of my own. <3
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