Posted | February 12th, 2020
The Future of Body Positivity on Social Media
By Izel – Junior Creative Strategist/Designer
Where it all began
Throughout time, women have had to endure the pressure of ensuring their bodies conform to society’s ‘perfect figure’. The expectations of the ideal body has changed throughout history adapting to trends of the time, with the earliest example of this dating back to the Palaeolithic era. One of the earliest pieces of art to be discovered dated back to this period. The figure presents an ‘idealistic woman’, emphasising the figure’s large hips, breasts, and stomach. This was a very primitive representation of a woman, showing no details of her face as this didn’t define beauty at the time.
Same concept, different time
Fast forward to more present years, we are able to reflect on the past two decades alone. We see a clear change of female body standards and how pressures have changed. The 2000s was a time where the ideal figure was to be super slender, as shown by the likes of Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Victoria Beckham, and other celebrities. At the time, Clueless star Alicia Silverstone became a victim of body shaming and labelled a ‘fat girl’ despite maintaining a healthy weight by the press and public. The beauty standards were made clear at the time and plus-size women were suppressed by the media, whether they were on TV shows or starring in films. Plus-sized girls were always presented as the ‘friend’ and never the star.
By todays standards
Today, we live in a world that is run by social media: filtered, edited and cropped. What is now classed as the ‘perfect figure’ is an hourglass shape – round curves and a tiny waist.
The expectations have changed, but how has social media impacted the way women view their bodies? In my opinion, Instagram in particular has had a massive contribution to the pressures of female beauty and how our body should look. It has now become the norm for social media stars to share photoshopped images to their platforms, presenting unrealistic beauty standards to their young audiences.
With the introduction of new face filters, users are now able to manipulate their appearance. Such filters are making noses smaller, faces slimmer, and skin flawless. This reinforces current expectations of what is classed as beautiful, with selfies of today rarely being shared without some sort of edit or filter to conceal any flaws.
Who is changing the stigma?
Despite the negatives social media has contributed to, there are many influencers who are tackling these beauty standards, using their platform to breakdown certain pressures and spread body positivity. Social media star Nella Rose is the perfect example of this, not long ago revealing to her subscribers how she was not posting as frequently due to her weight gain and was embarrassed to be on camera. Nella then went on to say how she made the decision to accept her body, carry on creating content and set a good example to her followers. Nella is now an advocate for body positivity, in particular to her subscribers.
Staying authentic to herself is one of the unique attributes she carries, using her platform to not only show the good, but the bad and the ugly. Her ability to be so transparent and still tackle taboo topics with a humorous approach is of the reasons she is admired by her audience. Content creators like Nella are likely to grow their platform significantly in the coming years due to these “unspoken” topics.
In summary, whilst stigmas around body image still exist, a more accepting culture towards plus size figures has created a new generation of stars who champion a more authentic representation of themselves. These stars inspiring young women to not fall victim to outdated beauty standards.