When we were in school, for that matter even in university, there was no name-calling for ‘fat’ people. A healthy-sized individual was just another person with no shame attached to it. We bet the iGen, an age shaped by smartphones and connected rise of social media influencers, will vehemently disagree. For them, being overweight has been a continuous onslaught of body-shaming.
The fad of being stick thin is recent. Social media and its near-perfect influencers have made it as maddeningly popular as a certain HBO show. (FYI folks, some of us are just not interested, and some of us are waiting for the books!)
Social Media: A Better Place Than It Was Before
But, here, we aren’t going to focus Beyond the Wall. The conversation will be about how the very same platforms are bringing about a transformation. As much as social networks are amplifying body-consciousness, they are nullifying it even more. And social media influencers are a force for this change.
To validate this fact, we introduce to you, Ashley Graham.
Who is Ashley Graham?
A model, author, and entrepreneur, she has been listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30. But a more exact introduction would be that she has graced the covers of Sports Illustrated.
An S.I. cover means a supermodel-in-the-making… and, right about now, an image is forming in your head. Hold your horses and don’t skip over to her Instagram page just yet. Read the next line.
Ashley Graham is U.S. size 14.
You read that right.
She is what some people may call “fat” or to be more P.C. “plus-sized.” For the remainder of this post, we will not be using any of these terms. Instead, we take a leaf out of Ashley’s book and pick “curvasexilicious.”
Now, you may now have a look at her S.I. cover
Why are we talking about her?
She is the first genuinely curvasexilicious model to be on the cover of S.I. Swimsuit issue which is an ‘effing big achievement considering the history of the magazine. Ashley follows in the footsteps of Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Beyoncé and many, many more.
But that is not why we picked her. Ashley is an act of god when it comes to making the internet a more inclusive space..
The model, like the S.I. cover, breaks the present mould of beauty and all its acceptable standards day in and day out. Her Insta feed, her interviews, and her very life are an in-your-face to all those who believe that to be beautiful a body needs to be in a certain shape. And the woman literally uses social media to get the message out there.
Body positivity – the change social media influencers are bringing (and how!)
Four years back, when networking sites were beginning to create havoc on the image of Millennials and Gen Zer’s, Ashley gave a TED talk. Even if you don’t listen to the whole thing, give it an ear for the first few seconds. Believe us; you will not find a more powerful opening. She blatantly, and lovingly speaks about cellulite, fat bulges and thick thighs.
Because she aims to make everyone embrace the physique they were given, and realise that one doesn’t need to conform to a standard.
The talk was just the start. Ashley adopted Instagram to widen the scope of her message. She launched her beauty beyond size campaign which now has over 4,30,000 posts. The hashtag is just one of the channels the model leverages to get people talking.
Instagram feed: a scrapbook for motivation
With every caption and clapback, she writes on the photo-sharing site; she advocates that no one else should define how you look. Her message to the younger generation is:
‘You can’t control what others say of your body, but you can be conscious of how you talk to yourself.’
In a space where people rarely feel comfortable in their own skin even on good days, the activist has done a bang-up job of using the dais to teach ‘loving oneself.’ The proof of it lies in her comments. Scroll through any of her pictures, and you will see average people shutting down negativity left, right and centre.
Giving tips on how to accept who you are and sharing what it takes to not put with trolls is not the end of it. The body influencer has gone a level higher. For her swimwear line, she created a viral #swimsuitsforall. The campaign urged social media users to post photos proudly wearing the swimwear no matter their size.
Moving beyond social media
It said that people with an outsized voice should speak up. And that’s precisely what the model did. She spoke loudly, she spoke clearly, and she spoke persistently about body inclusivity. Her medium of choice was social media, and it finally caught the eye of the people. New York Times recently chatted with her live to take the conversation further.
A Heartening Side To A Harsh World
Why did we bring you the tale of Ashley Graham? Because social media gets a bad rep and at DYT, we hope to bring about a change too. Introduce to the world at large that it does have a better side.
Unwittingly (or wittingly?), the likes of Kardashian’s, Jenner’s and Hadid’s have made the virtual space a catalogue of lanky and made-up people, but social media influencer/model/activist Ashley Graham and those like her bring a breath of fresh air to the environment. There are plenty more examples around us. Ellie Goulding constantly talks about climate change. Beyoncé continuously promotes inclusivity. Yara Shahidi speaks out against gun violence, racism, gender inequality and much more while encouraging the youth to vote. All of them are wielding networking sites to take action, bring reform and expand the set concepts.
Against all the odds, the tides have begun to shift. More and more netizens understand that the sites can be put to use for social good, too. The anticipation is that more people start to emulate them. Social media influencers have proven they can be a force for change.
Our question to you is: what can we, the average people, do more?
The very real answer to this is – plenty. You don’t need to have a massive following to speak up for what you believe in. As much as we respect the good that social media influencers with large followings has brought into our community, there is no stopping you from having an impact either. At DYT, we believe that everyone is an influencer, everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. So stand up for what you think it right – your power is limitless.