When one thinks of Instagram, positivity and acceptance might be the last things that come to mind. On a platform that has quickly transformed from an application where one can post pictures from their average, everyday life to an application obsessed with carefully curated feeds and influencers, body positivity can be hard to come by. Until recently that is. Years ago, and even to this day, highly-edited photographs of idealistic body types littered the platform along with hidden hashtags that supported, if not encouraged, disordered eating. While this kind of content can still be found on the app, a movement of influencers have started to take to their insta feeds to stand up for body positivity. One of these influencers is video producer and body positive photographer, Jude Valentin, who is now teaming up with the National Eating Disorders Association and Instagram in the name of self-love.
Founder of The Mermaid Kingdom, an online community that champions love, acceptance and empathy, Valentin believes “...the idea of perfection is something that is sold to us by a society that wants us to hate ourselves…” It is high-time to stop consuming media that encourages us to judge our own bodies in 2020. That’s where #ComeAsYouAre comes in. Originally used in a campaign last year in an effort to help those who are recovering from eating disorders, the hashtag encourages healthy mindsets and positivity as well as aims to put an end to comparing oneself to others. In an article on Refinery29 in conversation with both Valentin and Dayna Geldwert of Instagram, Geldwert stated, “...we want to give people tools to help them better manage how they interact with content that could make them feel negatively about themselves or their bodies. And [we want to] elevate [those] who are displaying diverse body types and experiences to help show that all points of view are valid and important.”
The #ComeAsYouAre campaign comes after Instagram made the decision last year to restrict posts that promote weight loss products like Flat Tummy Tea and appetite suppressing lollipops. Posts from powerful influencers like Kim Kardashian that promote these laxative products can have a profound impact on younger individual’s minds and body image. Body positive activist Jameela Jamil, who worked with Instagram on the initiative to combat these kinds of posts stated, "As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I’ve personally known and suffered the perils of the devious side of the diet/detox industry.” Now, posts that are found to promote diet products are restricted to those who are younger than 18-years-old. #ComeAsYouAre does not aim to restrict content that may have a negative impact on body image, but rather, encourage people to post more photos that empower and promote that all bodies are beautiful. Valetin noted when explaining that she hopes the hashtag will encourage folks to realize that weight loss does not equate to respect, “You don't need to prove yourself worthy to exist...You’re allowed to exist, and be, and take up space… You are allowed to love and laugh and be.”
It seems that more and more, Instagram is beginning to realize some of the harmful effects their app has had on young, impressionable minds and the ways folks of all ages perceive themselves. While the ways in which social media has impacted people's self image cannot be undone, there is something to be said about Instagram taking responsibility and realizing that some changes but be made to create a positive environment in the future.
Image via the National Eating Disorders Association on YouTube
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Aliza is a Creative Writing BFA student and former BUST Magazine intern! When she's not writing, reading or scrolling through TikTok for hours on end, you can find her consuming copious amounts of iced coffee or doing something witchy. Follow her on Twitter @alizapelto.