The movement has become a growing force on Instagram in particular, acting as a counterweight to the millions of posts of tiny tummies and thigh gaps propagated by the thousands of traditional models who dominate social media.
Instagram allows us “to cultivate our own experiences,” Ms. Holliday said, who has a new book, “The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl.”
“Prior to Instagram, you just saw whatever online. Now you can follow people that are into body positivity, feminism, radical body love, artists. People that inspire me,” she said.
“It’s really important to surround yourself with people that uplift you and support you, and so you really have a community of that.”
A digital space for all sorts of bodies
A recent study ranked Instagram and Snapchat as the worst social platforms for body image, though Instagram had good marks for self-expression, self-identity and emotional support. And Instagram has made a concerted effort to foster these online communities by building programs around well-being, and by prioritizing safety and inclusion.
Hashtags like #bodypositive, #bopo, #bodyacceptance and #effyourbeautystandards — the one created by Ms. Holliday in 2011 — have been added to millions of Instagram posts, carving out a digital space where everyday people can share photos of their bodies and stories about body image.
Body positivity is more than weight acceptance, though. It is about accepting one’s body as it is, regardless of what is deemed socially acceptable or beautiful: from the external like acne, body hair, cellulite and stretch marks, to the more complex like physical disabilities or disorders.
By relying on images, Instagram opens the door to change in a way that transcends language and age, said Marne Levine, Instagram’s chief operating officer. “It is through that visual nature that people are able to be what might not have been obvious to them before.”