Loving your appearance can sometimes be a struggle. With the rise in popularity of video-sharing platforms like Instagram and TikTok, it often seems that everywhere we look, we’re being told that we’re simply not good enough.
As a 22-year-old, social media plays an integral part in my everyday life, and I often find myself scrolling mindlessly for an hour…or three.
And so, from first-hand experience, I know how incredibly easy it is to compare yourself to a picture on a screen. But what many (including myself at times) fail to remember is that numerous images uploaded by celebrities and social media influencers have often been highly edited, smoothed, reshaped or blurred. These alterations to images set unrealistic body image expectations for social media users, who are often unaware that the images they’re viewing have been heavily constructed.
However, a growing number of influencers are biting back against unrealistic body standards set by social media and instead are using their platforms to promote body positive content related to the body-positivity movement.
The body-positive movement aims to challenge beauty standards, build a positive body image, and improve self-confidence. Individuals are also encouraged to love themselves to the fullest while accepting and fully embracing their physical traits.
Below, I’ve come up with my very own list of body confidence influencers, who brighten up my Instagram feed and who have helped me to feel good in my own skin, by celebrating their natural bodies and showcasing how the number on the scale or the size of your jeans does not determine your self-worth.
Alex Light – @alexlight_ldn
Alex Light is a blogger, beauty and body confidence influencer. Alex has overcome various eating disorders and body image issues to finally get to a place where she feels at peace with her natural, unedited body.
On her feed, she regularly opens up about her battle with eating disorders, her recovery and her continuing struggles with the intention of helping others who may be going through something similar. Alex is an activist for body confidence, anti-diet and strives to help women feel good about their bodies by often showing how others use editing apps to alter their images.
Alex has also recently written a book, ‘How to Improve Your Body Image’, to help women make peace with their body and 10% of each sale goes to the eating disorder charity BEAT.
Stevie Blaine – @bopo.boy
Stevie Blaine is an LGBTQIA+ and body acceptance activist with over 21k followers, including singer Sam Smith and actor Jameela Jamil. Stevie uses his platform to share that it is perfectly OK to be unapologetically you and that no one should feel pressured to conform to beauty standards.
On Instagram, Stevie opens up about his 10-year ‘obsession’ with losing weight and often talks about how he wants to be the role model that he desperately required during his body struggles.
Nyome Nicholas-Williams – @curvynyome
Nyome Nicholas – Williams is a plus-size model and activist, being unapologetically herself on social media. When she isn’t advocating for body positivity, mental health, and self-care, Nyome is busy modelling for companies such as Adidas, Boots and Dove.
Nyome is most well-known for forcing Instagram to change its nudity policy after arguing that removing one of her posts demonstrated ‘racial bias’ back in 2020.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, Nyome described herself as:
“a beautiful, strong, tall, defiantly big-bodied Black woman in a space where these things are not celebrated.”
Sophie Butler – @sophjbutler
After a gym accident in 2017, Sophie Butler was left paralysed from the waist down. Not letting her accident break her, she turned to Instagram to share videos highlighting the different challenges that her disability and spinal injury have taught her to deal with. Sophie aims to inspire and motivate others facing difficulties in their lives.
Now, with over 90k followers on Instagram, Sophie is an online ambassador for the fitness apparel brand Gym Shark, and she was the brand’s first-ever sponsored wheelchair user. Back in 2019, Sophie was also crowned the Cosmopolitan Health and Wellbeing Influencer of the year.
Nelly London – @_nelly_london
Nelly London is a body-positive Instagram and YouTuber influencer who uses her platforms to advocate for eating disorder recovery.
After spending many years suffering from eating disorders, Nelly, who is now on the road to recovery, uses her platform to share her story, journey and experiences with her 346k followers.
Nelly actively encourages her audience to embrace their natural bodies and campaigns for body confidence. Her Instagram feed is packed with inspiring and encouraging images, displaying that all bodies are normal.
Danae Mercer – @danaemercer
Danae Mercer is the queen of Insta vs reality photos. She uses her feed to share before and after pictures of how lighting, the way in which we pose, filters and shadows are all ways of altering images.
She often likes to remind her followers that many images we see on social media platforms like Instagram are posed, curated and perfected to meet the unrealistic body standards created and upheld by social media.
BEAT, the eating disorder charity, estimates that around 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. Help and advice on eating disorder support services can be found here.
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