- 12 personalities you need to follow to bring body positivity and self-love to your Instagram feed
- Neha Parulkar
- Megan Jayne Crabbe
- Nyma Tang
- Alok Vaid-Menon
- Sarah Nicole Landry
- Kadeeja Sel Khan
- Deepica Mutyala
- Jameela Jamil
- Harnaam Kaur
- Winnie Harlow
- Jillian Mercado
- Also Read:
- 9 Body-Positive Instagram Influencers You Need to Follow Right Now
- 1. Tess Holliday
- 2. Jessamyn Stanley
- 3. Amber Rose
- 4. Shay Neary
- 5. Sabina Karlsson
- 6. Nyakim Gatwech
- 7. Mama Cāx
- 8. Harnaam Kaur
- 9. Iskra
12 personalities you need to follow to bring body positivity and self-love to your Instagram feed
While the world is moving towards a new normal, it is also evolving to create a more wholesome and diverse environment—taking a step towards normalising the reality of being human in all its glorious imperfections. There is much work to be done, but thankfully, there are more than a few people challenging the status quo and establishing a more inclusive realm for all bodies.
It comes as no surprise that social media has been instrumental in fostering communities that explore and develop these discourses, which aim to celebrate the self in its rawest form.
Spearheading this change are a handful of influencers who consistently use their platform and reach to change the way we look at ourselves—helping us move away from unrealistic goals to an unapologetic acceptance of the self.
2020 was difficult, to say the least. If you are looking to kick off the new year with positivity and self-acceptance, here are a few influencers who can empower you to treat yourself with kindness.
One of the most prominent voices to shed light on the conversation around body positivity, pop star Lizzo takes the self-love discussion up a notch to incite a more powerful change in defining beauty.
“I think it’s lazy for me to just say I’m body positive at this point,” the musician mentioned in an interview with Vogue. “I would to be body-normative.
I want to normalise my body,» she adds, explaining how the term “body positive” has been fetishised enough to effectively lose its meaning.
The singer’s work (her lyrics) and social media presence have contributed immensely to driving the momentum of change in the way people perceive physical appearances. According to her, “[w]e have to make people uncomfortable again, so that we can continue to change. Change is always uncomfortable, right?” Wise words to live by, would you not agree?
Setting herself apart from the noise of conventional beauty norms, Neha Parulkar has blazed her own path in the modelling industry.
A plus-size model and body positivity influencer, Parulkar uses her platform to not only create an inclusive community but also highlight the significance of looking past one’s physical appearance.
“Use digital media as a platform to spread love and positivity and educate the generation before you and after you on the importance of self-love and that there is more to life than appearance”, she advised in an interview with The Times of India, urging to look at oneself with kindness.
Megan Jayne Crabbe
Megan Jayne Crabbe has time and again related through her personal experience the power of making peace with one’s body. To become comfortable in her skin was a struggle for the writer-activist, who journeyed through eating disorders and intense dieting before she found her “body positive power”—also the title of her book.
Crabbe urges us to perceive beauty in a way that celebrates all body types, dispelling the mythical happiness associated with a goal weight or physique.
Her account on Instagram is an empowering chronicle of self-love and worth, and openly discusses insecurities related to physical appearance using vulnerability and approachability as tools.
Nyma Tang has contributed to a palpable shift in the beauty industry by bringing to the fore the realities of skin-colour based discrimination.
What started out as Tang’s series of reviews of dark shade foundations from different beauty brands called The Darkest Shade, catapulted into a larger discourse about the inclusivity of deeper skin tones in the beauty industry.
While colourism is far from a novel phenomenon, the South Sudanese influencer aims to seek better representation for Black women, specifically those with darker skin tones. Not only are her efforts recognised by the s of Rihanna but her work has also urged other beauty brands to create products that have started manufacturing products for a diverse range of skin types.
Apart from leading the conversation on gender non-conformity, the Indian-American writer is also an influential figure in relaying the message of body positivity.
The performance artist uses their social media presence to propel meaningful discourses on self-acceptance.
Most notable are their efforts to normalise body hair as a part of the self that should be considered beautiful—a radical stance in a world that views it as something to remove and hide away.
Sarah Nicole Landry
Sarah Nicole Landry is a blogger whose experience with self-love has become well-known.
Uncovering the relationship between detrimental dieting rituals and the effects it has on one’s mental and physical self, Landry has highlighted the boundaries of the human body.
She routinely expresses the dangers of relying on external validation to celebrate one’s physical self, and has created a community that honours the beautiful imperfections of all bodies, including cellulite and stretch marks.
Kadeeja Sel Khan
Touted as a skin-positivity champion, Kadeeja Sel Khan opened the virtual, often heavily edited world of Instagram, to the notion of normalising acne.
The model’s unfiltered and unretouched photos on Instagram garnered much attention as they defy the stigma around acne and express self-acceptance. “I wanted to show the world you’re beautiful no matter what condition your skin is in.
So I did a make-up tutorial with no filter [or] edit and three years later I’m helping so many people feel beautiful and confident,” she told Vogue in an interview.
Founder of Live Tinted, a multicultural community and beauty brand, Deepica Mutyala has contributed significantly in creating a space to celebrate all skin tones.
Being an entrepreneur as well as an influencer on Instagram and , Mutyala created products that directly stemmed from the needs of the Live Tinted community—serving to also alter the way people of colour look at themselves.
Her company spotlighted the need for better colour correctors for dark-skinned individuals, creating beauty essentials designed for people of colour who have often felt the lack of representation in the industry.
Over the past few years, Jamil—a renowned actor, writer, model, and activist among other things— has become the unfiltered voice against unhealthy beauty standards that women are subjected to.
The actor has not only openly criticised celebrities for promoting products that might contribute to body image issues and its repercussions on impressionable minds, but has also founded her own community called ‘I Weigh’ on social media that advocates “radical inclusivity”.
“We are too special and too interesting to be judged solely on our appearance; too powerful to be caught in such a constricting harness. Our variety is beautiful, interesting and important,” she opined in an essay on Vogue, urging women to explore happiness outside of their appearances.
A champion for normalising body hair, Harnaam Kaur identifies as a body confidence activist and has become a beacon for women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
The 30-year-old created an uplifting narrative of embracing body hair through her own experience with hirsutism—the growth of excessive facial and body hair due to increased androgen (male hormones) levels.
Recognised for her statement beard, the activist has also served as a motivational speaker and is an outspoken advocate against bullying.
“I have had my “Lady Beard” who I have named “Sundri” which means Beauty or Beautiful, for 10 years now—and I love, adore and celebrate her every day,” she professed to Teen Vogue in an interview, setting an example for women around the world as a body-positive warrior.
Winnie Harlow has been a trailblazer in the fashion and modelling industry for propagating skin positivity.
The model, diagnosed with a skin condition called vitiligo at an early age, has been an instrumental figure in creating a more inclusive and diverse landscape within the realm of fashion and modelling. “Be your own person.
Know for yourself what beauty is rather than looking to a magazine or to even me for what beauty is,” Harlow told her audience during her popular TED Talk.
Latinx model and activist Jillian Mercado seeks to make the world a more inclusive space for people with disabilities. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at an early age, Mercado has become a prominent voice for the disabled community and their representation.
The model and actor even founded Black Disabled Creatives, an online community-driven database last year.
“I wanted to create this list, so not only will it help to build communities within the disability community but making these connections can lead to conversations,” she told Vogue in an interview.
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9 Body-Positive Instagram Influencers You Need to Follow Right Now
Image via mynameisjessamyn/Instagram
It only takes a few minutes of swipes, clicks, and scrolls to travel the world, peeking into the lives of friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers and comparing your suddenly lackluster life (and body) with their seemingly perfect ones.
A lot of the time, Instagram posts are neatly packaged with a bow, showing only the best of the best of anyone’s day or butt angle (filtered a few times for good measure).
But intellectually knowing that doesn't always change the emotional response: What's wrong with me? Why can't I look her? I think it's time for more body positive triggers.
When it comes to body image, Instagram can be as harmful as it is motivational. Many popular IG personalities seem to have it all: model- beauty and physique, impossible life balance, infinite leisure, and endless affirmation in the form of s and praising comments.
The truth is, we need to change the images we are exposed to in order to alter our beauty expectations.
No, we don't lower our standards to be content with our bodies; instead, we widen our knowledge base, increase our exposure to different types of figures and human experiences, and begin to see more clearly what it truly means to be beautiful — to be free. That's launching our standards to incredible heights.
Lately, witnessing constant perfection in others’ IG feeds has become an eye roller for me. I want to see more realness out there: real bodies and confidence — not a constant onslaught of vanity and self-indulgence. The following nine body positive Instagram influencers inspire me everyday and are truly as real as it gets.
1. Tess Holliday
It’s hard to talk about body positivity without mentioning Tess Holliday, who practically invented the term. The plus-size model is author of «The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl,» and has a level of confidence, grace, and unapologetic presence that screams #EffYourBeautyStandards from the hilltops.
Image via mynameisjessamyn/Instagram
2. Jessamyn Stanley
I started following Jessamyn last year when I was first trying to get into yoga. Besides being a kick-ass yogi, she’s also been defying the popular perception of the “yoga body”, encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to shed their fears and get on the mat. Jessamyn recently published «Every Body Yoga» and now travels the world giving seminars to her fans.
Image via AmberRose/Instagram
3. Amber Rose
There are few celebrity-turned-self-proclaimed feminists as controversial as Amber Rose. She has tons of haters, but that hasn’t stopped her from using her celebrity to promote body size, race, and gender inclusivity and fight against slut shaming.
Most recently, Amber posed nude for Instagram.
While IG's admin almost immediately took the post down, the call remained in our hearts: embrace the bush! Meanwhile, every year she hosts the Amber Rose SlutWalk to raise money for social justice, gender equality and arts empowerment.
Image via shadeyshay/Instagram
4. Shay Neary
Shay Neary makes history as the first plus-size transgender model. She is a walking emblem of body-positivity and she doesn’t shy from any topic about her body, gender, or sexuality. In 2016, Shay made headlines when she was cast by fashion brand Coverstory for the company’s newest campaign.
Image via thesabinakarlsson/Instagram
5. Sabina Karlsson
Born in Sweden and currently living in NYC, Sabina Karlsson is a freckly red-headed beauty who went from a size six to a size 16 during her career as a model.
Scouted at the age of four for her unique looks, Sabina struggled to maintain a thin figure after turning 17, when casting agents deemed her too big at a size six.
Sabina returned to modeling as a plus-size model and now represents Lane Bryant’s “Plus is Equal” campaign alongside Ashley Graham.
Image via queenkim_nyakim/Instagram
6. Nyakim Gatwech
She calls herself the «Queen of Dark», and who would contest? Growing up in South Sudan, Nyakim Gatwech was bullied for her dark skin. However, she turned that negative energy into a love for herself.
Just a few months ago, she revealed that an Uber driver asked if she would bleach her skin for $10,000.
Nyakim took to Instagram to write, “Why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God [blessed] me with?»
Image via MamaCaxx/Instagram
7. Mama Cāx
When Mama Cāx was 14, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer that metastasized to her lungs.
After a failed hip replacement to get rid of the affected bone, Cāx ended up having to get some of her right hip removed, along with her right leg. Despite this setback, Cāx has been winning ever since.
She models, writes a blog, and motivates all of us to embrace our imperfections along the way.
Image via HarnaamKaur/Instagram
8. Harnaam Kaur
Harnaam makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but she won't let that stop her. She holds the record as the youngest woman to have a full beard. After years of being bullied and trying to hide the symptom of her polycystic ovaries, Harnaam started to wear her beard at the age of 16. Today, at 25, she is a body confidence advocate, model, and Instagram star.
Image via Iskra/Instagram
Iskra is one of the most popular curvy models on Instagram with 3.5 million followers. Not a post goes by without her breaking beauty standards and encouraging young girls to love the skin they’re in.
Her positive attitude is infectious and she doesn’t shy away from serious topics – she is involved with the National Eating Disorders Association and often and openly speaks about body issues with her fans.
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