Welcome to 2021, where the Instagram influencer is now a familiar part of society. The platform is saturated with endless fast-fashion hauls, promotions of detox teas that give you diarrhoea and tone-deaf content about jaunts to Dubai in the middle of a global pandemic.
However, all hope isn’t lost: there are some influencers whose content feels like a breath of fresh air when it comes up on your feed.
Whilst reality TV shows such as Love Island are rightfully criticised for their lack of diversity and the thin, white, cis, able-bodied women who gain fame from such shows are still the ‘typical’ influencer, in recent years there have been some positive changes to influencer culture. The rise of the influencer has also brought with it the call for fair, diverse representation and people of various shapes, sizes and backgrounds embracing themselves. We haven’t made enough progress, but I do admire some of the influencers I keep up with for what they’re trying to achieve.
One influencer I adore is Jessica Megan (@jess_megan_), who is working to change how feminine bodies are perceived in the public sphere, trying to counteract how they are persistently sexualised. She seeks to normalise that which is perceived as ‘unflattering’ and frequently posts pictures of body hair, stomach rolls and eczema, whilst also openly discussing her mental health. Whilst many influencers fall into a trap of constantly pretending to be happy, I find it very refreshing to see somebody keeping it real. Megan is also one of the few influencers I’ve stumbled across who ensures that their sponsorship deals are thoughtfully considered and relevant.
I’m also a big fan of Stephanie Yeboah (@stephanieyeboah), who authored ‘Fattily Ever After’ and is doing amazing things to try and release WOC from the boxes that society consistently places them in. I love Hannah Witton (@hannahwitton) for discussing taboo topics such as sex; her experience with Crohn’s disease and living with a stoma; and life as someone who is invisibly disabled. Then there is Lotte Van Eijk (lovaeij) for her posts on body positivity and self-confidence, exploring how women are multi-faceted human beings who can be sexual as well as an array of other things. She also wants to destroy the notion that women should shrink themselves, as she regularly discusses being bigger than her boyfriend.
I struggled a lot with my body growing up, but being able to see people with the same body type on social media allowed me to become more accepting of it, and I am glad that Gen-Z have the means to see themselves represented in such an accessible way.