Body positivity is something that has become appropriated by thin white women on social media, mixed in with captions about "confidence" and (nonexistent) "flaws" but this isn't quite what it is for, or what it means.
Body positivity was created for bodies which have been historically marginalized, oppressed, dehumanized and treated as less valuable. It is the radical (in our current society) acceptance of one's body and the belief that all bodies, no matter the size, color, shape, condition, ability, etc., are equally worthy of love, and are just as beautiful as each other and Bella Hadid.
This is a very small list of people doing work in the body positivity community and by no means is the end-all-be-all of social media educators. However, it is a great introduction into the community if you haven't dipped a toe in yet.
Every single person on this list in some way embodies the values of body positivity and body acceptance in their unique ways, and I feel honored to see them on my feed every day.
Dana is a model, dedicated volleyball coach to high school girls, and mental health advocate. I'm endlessly inspired by her honesty and work ethic. She curates and edits all of her own photos, and is incredibly transparent about wellness and mental health. Dana also loves matcha, CBD, and is a moisturizer fiend - all of the best obsessions.
I've learned so much from her about being true to myself, never doing things that don't feel authentic or genuine, knowing my own limits, and just showing up in my own life as the most present I can be - and wearing bikinis and crop tops where and whenever I feel like it.
2. Ruby Allegra (@rvbyallegra)
Ruby is a disabled artist and makeup artist dedicated to activism, advocacy and education relating to disability and disabled bodies. They are also queer and gender-fluid, and every open about their experiences and continuous learning about their identity.
Ruby is an amazing person to follow to learn about sex positivity, and facing our own able-bodied biases. Ableism is very real in our world and can be hard see in front of us when the entire planet caters to able-bodied people. But it is necessary to move toward a more tolerant society. And Ruby's makeup art is amazing. I'm here for it.
3. Zena Sativa (@zenasativa)
Zena's account is the one that introduced me to body positivity. She's just out there being herself, and I began to wonder: If I think she's beautiful and lovely, why can't I see those same qualities as beautiful and lovely on myself? Why shouldn't I?
Zena is a curve model and cannabis brand ambassador. She used to live in Seattle, Washington, but is in L.A. now. She's really into astrology, sex positivity, and hunting down the best vegan food. Check out her other account @veganbutshethick - you'll be drooling.
4. Michelle Elman (@bodypositivememes)
Michelle runs this account as well as her personal, @scarrednotscared. She is a body confidence coach, TedX speaker, creator of the podcast "Let Me Talk" and author of a book called "Am I Ugly?". She's a rockstar.
This particular account takes memes, text posts and other visual materials and, well, fixes them. It's truly eye-opening to see real twitter posts like the one above, which upon reading you may laugh, and agree with it and move on with your day, because we are so used to being shamed for our bodies and the way we look. It's also a really easy way to teach body positivity to someone who may not fully understand, and to check and dismantle our own fatphobia.
5. Paige P. (@memesforvalidation)
More fat-positive memes! Paige is a twenty-three year-old, queer fat activist. She began this account with the intention of it being about mental health, unhealthy coping, and other life struggles. But recently, it's migrated into body positivity territory, and I'm not mad about it.
I can relate to some of these memes, and some of them I can't. As someone who definitely benefits from thin privilege in some ways, but is still on the smallest end of plus size, I believe it's so, so important to educate myself (without asking for extra intellectual labor from marginalized fat people) so that I can be of service to those fighting fatphobia in their daily lives. Understanding and checking our own fatphobia (internalized or not) and educating others is one of the best things we can do for fat people!
6. Maya Spencer-Berkeley (@mbajsb)
Maya is the sweetest butterfly child you ever saw. She also lives with Epidermolysis Bullosa, which is a rare skin condition the affects only 500,000 worldwide. It is a genetic group of skin conditions that causes the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch. She wrote this incredible article for Bricks Magazine last year about growing up with EB, and she is truly an all-around amazing person. Maya is focusing now on modeling for inclusive publications like girlgaze to raise awareness and education for other people and children living with this condition.
In her Bricks article, she says, "During the last few years, I have come to realise that if I don't accept myself for the way that I am, or I spend too much time hating things I cannot change, I will never be happy. That's not the way I want to live my life."
7. Megan Crabbe (@bodyposipanda)
Not only has Megan published a collection of essays called "Body Positive Power" which is on the New York Times Bestseller's list, she also is the founder of #DontHateTheShake (look it up - it's amazing), she writes an advice column for The Unedit answering questions like: "How do you make healthier food choices without getting caught up in diet culture?" and "How do I introduce body positivity to my friends?" The advice column is always linked in her stories.
Recently, Megan has revealed that she has a touring a live show coming up later this year in the UK where she lives. It's called "Never Say Diet Club."
Basically, she's freaking awesome. And c'mon, look how colorful she is! Definitely breaking the panda status quo.
Instagram can be an amazing place for exposure and learning if you're surrounding yourself with the right people. Social media feels toxic sometimes, but it's truly no different than your inner circle in your real life: be around people who lift you up, make you feel like you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to, people who remind you of your value, and not people who are emotionally draining or dismissive of your mental safety. I never would have found body positivity without these women, and hundreds of thousands of others can say the same. Check them out!