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 like 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-like beauty and physique, impossible life balance, infinite leisure, and endless affirmation in the form of likes 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.
9 Body Positive Instagram Influencers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.