You may know the #BoPo movement already, or it may be brand new to your world. Either way, we think you're going to be seeing alot more of it. Magazines like InStyle are starting to pick up threads of this theme and generally the social world seems to be shifting closer to a place of positivity, wellness, and acceptance. We decided to sit down with a local Body Positive content creator who is relatively new to the game and get her take on the movement.
When and why did you start your Instagram account?
About 8 months ago I started sharing my personal battle with anorexia & bulimia. I am now in recovery, but two and a half years ago I went into an intensive Eating Disorder Treatment Program and about halfway through I started sharing my story on my account and found the Body Positive Community on IG. Body Positivity changed my life and saved my life. It was a huge part of my recovery, without it I don't know if I would have ended up the way I am now. Once I started sharing my story & my journey people started noticing & listening. I now have friends all over the world (see below!) that I talk with on a daily basis. The Body Positive Community is a safe space that was created for all women & men regardless of size, shape, color, lifestyle, etc. to feel welcome, accepted, supported & loved. I have seen some of the most real and raw stories shared by people who have spent their lives feeling isolated because f the way they look. They are making friends, I am making friends. This community is so much more than likes & followers. This community is home for a lot of people.
How has Instagram aided the body positive movement?
I heard a statistic once that images are processed about 60,000 times faster than words. We are inundated with images constantly, the majority of these portraying our perfection-obsessed and sexually charged society. Digital retouching and photoshopping has created an ideal that is physically unattainable, even for the models in the images--their bodies have been smoothed over & slimmed down.
For women, the pressure to meet this ideal beauty standard, to make ourselves smaller, to take up less space, to work harder at being "perfect", the notion that we are not acceptable as we are naturally, that our existence is reliant on our appearance and our value is determined by our waistline is absurd. It is appalling that we feel the need to judge our self worth and beauty based on another woman's appearance. Instagram is a great platform for body positivity because it allows s to share images of REAL bodies, REAL women, REAL lifestyles, stomach rolls, cellulite, stretch marks. I have had girls comment on my posts or send me DMs saying that their bodies are similar to mine and for the first time they're realizing that they are okay exactly as they are.
How do you balance your deep social presence with your mental well-being (we hear lots of influencers talk about overload and burn out). Does yoga play a big part in that?
This is actually really hard! Because my account has grown so rapidly in such a short amount of time I am still trying to navigate finding a balance between being active on Instagram and my own self-care. Yoga is a huge part of my personal care and how I stay grounded in life. I have a schedule that I try and stick to throughout the week so regardless of Instagram, I still try and get to my normal classes. It is hard keeping up with Direct Messages, at this point I am not able to respond to all of them. I have certain people I talk with daily, or every few days. They are my girls, my crew and I am so thankful for them. I try my best to respond to message requests as I have time. I am learning that I can only give so much. And that people will take what you give them. So I have to back off when it gets to be too much, and I know that my followers will still be there if I take a 48 hour break from social media. You are your number one priority and your mental health comes first above anything!
Do you imagine brand presence being part of your social media life? If so, what do those brands and partnerships look like? Do brands belong in the BoPo space at all?
I have had companies reach out to me with partnership opportunities. I have yet to accept an offer because I feel that the body positive movement is about being yourself. It's about not needing the approval of anyone else. It's about being able to feel beautiful and worthy no matter where you live, what color you are, what size you are, what your lifestyle is or what opportunities you are given. So I feel like if I were to start endorsing products or companies, it would contradict that message of equality and take away from my ability to be relatable to my followers. My goal is to have my voice be heard and respected and to positively change the lives of women and girls everywhere.
How do you deal with the people who feel compelled to share negativity on your posts, and those of other BoPo activists?
I was not prepared for the negative comments & messages. I really did not think about it. In my mind, my posts were positive, respectful & peaceful. This past November, one of my images went viral for the first time. I did not know how to handle people publicly harassing me, saying hateful and hurtful things about me and leaving it for everyone to see. It was hard, I questioned if what I was doing was right. Could I handle this? Then when I started getting messages, multiple a day, from girls telling me that my account "has changed their lives" or they are "learning to love themselves" because of me, I knew that I had to keep going. Now, when one of my posts goes viral, I don't even read the comments anymore. Even though I am SO grateful for all of the positive comments, no one deserves to read hateful things about themselves. If I come across a negative comment I will delete it and block the user. I just don't need that in my life. A negative comment is never a reflection of me because my words come from a place of love & positivity -- they are a direct reflection of the person who left it.
What tips do you have for someone who is trying to grow their Instagram following?
I never really planned my account to gain the following that it has! I started sharing my story, in it's most raw and real form. If you want to build your following, it is best to have a cohesive message you are sharing and stand by it wholeheartedly. If you open up to people, they can embrace you and if you continue to reach out and interact with them, they will continue to support you. I've gained about 28K followers in the past three months. This is partially because publications ( Insider, Refinery 29, Health, & The Strut By Mic.) have been featuring body positive creators and highlighting this movement, which is awesome. It's clear that people are enthusiastic about changing the way that bodies are portrayed in the media. But it isn't about the followers, it's about changing our society & empowering women to love their bodies!
Creative Community Director at Snapfluence.
There is often a pen stuck in my hair.