In a way, body positivity is the new “self help book.” Self help books were once used to guide those who felt lost in themselves. And while they’re still easy to find in libraries and book stores, body positivity is emerging as a mainstream movement to help people connect more strongly and positively with their bodies and minds. Today’s young people are turning to each other for guidance and connection through the medium they know best: social media.
The first three stories to pop up when Googling “body positivity” are “Esko Native Goes Viral for Body Positivity,” “Jameela Jamil’s ‘I weigh’ Instagram Celebrates Body Positivity, Self-Worth,” and “Selena Gomez’s Instagram Video About Body Positivity Is So, So Powerful.” The first story is about a Minnesota woman named Jenna Kutcher who made a vulnerable post on her Instagram that went viral about her insecurities as a curvy girl being married to, as she writes, “Mr. Six Pack.”She wonders how she, in her body, could deserve him. Her husband assures her she’s perfect and beautiful as she is, and she recognizes that her insecurity stems from herself. The post has received more than 62,000 likes and 6,500 comments, much more attention than she ever could have expected. She says, ”I think that what is so interesting is not necessarily our story, because we’re failing to see what is really newsworthy about two people that love each other that have different body types, but I think what is resonating is that everyone can see themselves reflected in our story.”
Just like Kutcher’s story, the other two involve Instagram. Access Jameela Jamil made an account called I_Weigh, for which the bio is “Hi I’m @jameelajamil this is my ‘I Weigh’ movement. For us to feel valuable and see how amazing we are, and look beyond the flesh on our bones.” She further comments: “Please follow the account so we can start this revolution properly and make the fashion and media industry see how many of us are DONE with this shit.” Her first post on the account is a selfie captioned: “I weigh: Lovely relationship. Great friends. I laugh every day. I love my job. I make an honest living. I’m financially independent. I speak out for women’s rights. I like my bingo wings. I like myself in spite of EVERYTHING I’ve been taught by the media to hate myself about.” Jamil says she’s received a huge number of images from strangers “posting their own [images] back to me in our revolution against shame and self hatred over our looks, perpetuated by the media.” The I_Weigh account has almost 6,500 followers with 268 posts. These posts are almost entirely the images sent to Jamil, faces plastered with words such as “I Weigh… all my artworks, financial independence, my culture and heritage, my recovery, my happiness” and so on. Jamil encourages people to keep sending her their I_Weigh images.
The third article, about pop-star and actress Selena Gomez, talks about a video she posted on Instagram for her 135 million followers to see. It is a video montage from a trip she took recently with friends, edited to look like an old fashioned home video. Gomez took this trip during a break from the limelight, meant to let her focus on and care for herself. She captioned the video: “The beauty myth- an obsession with physical perfection that traps modern women in an endless cycle of hopelessness, self consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of flawless beauty. I chose to take care of myself because I want to, not to prove anything to anyone. Wind in her sails.” Almost 3 million people liked the photo, and nearly 50,000 people commented on it.
If you consider merely the aforementioned examples, and some simple addition, there are a whole lot of people viewing these three body positive Instagram accounts or posts. Without Instagram and the platforms which make sharing messages like the above so easy, people were not consuming body positive media in such large numbers. It was not accessible enough to be mainstream. Now that body positivity and self-love for one’s mind and body is being embraced even by the rich and famous, it seems that the tide is changing. Hopefully one day soon all of society will accept themselves and each other for exactly as they are.