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Why You Should Cultivate Body Diversity in Your Feed

Published:
January 30, 2024
July 28, 2020
Find out why you should follow these body positive Instagram accounts.|Grotto quote graphic about body positive Instagram accounts: "Accounts to follow to educate yourself on body-inclusivity: @crutches_and_spice, @i_weigh, @therollingexplorer, @shaneburcaw, @effyourbeautystandards."|Why You Should Cultivate Body Diversity in Your Feed

As a content creator, I find Instagram a great platform for self-promotion. But it has become clear that the platform is also a place for activism — it provides space for voices to shine through and share stories that bring awareness to social injustice issues. 

That said, I would label Instagram as a passive educational tool. While information and stories that might widen our perspective are readily available, not many of us actively look to follow diverse accounts, or even know of their existence. But taking an active approach to cultivating diversity in our feed — especially diversity around body image — can make a big difference in our perceptions. 

Like other social media platforms, Instagram use tends to affirm the worldview we already hold. If we’re not careful, we’ll only follow people who already inhabit our circle of friends, or accounts that confirm our current worldview, which can actually limit our perspective and ability to see other points of view. 

One of the first steps in responding to injustice is to educate ourselves. We have a responsibility to cultivate our media consumption to increase our awareness, not make it more narrow. I believe in the power of diversifying the people I follow on social media, especially Instagram, because the photo-centric format helps me train my eye to be more body-inclusive, a topic I’ve written about before

Imani Barbari, for example, has put out a call for intentional media creation and consumption with her #AdaptTheFeed campaign. It’s a call to make media accessible for those with hearing or vision disabilities by using transcripts and captions, and to elevate the work of disabled creatives. 

Another example is the #iweigh campaign generated by @i_weigh, the platform built by Jameela Jamil of The Good Place fame. The idea is to visualize and showcase what we value about ourselves and our bodies — in other words, what we “weigh” in terms of value, not pounds. 

Bringing these stories and images to the fore — and into your feed — can help all of us take a step toward greater inclusivity. My personal specialty in the diversity and inclusion conversation is disability and body positivity. As both an amputee and an eating disorder survivor, I have experience in both spheres that has helped me advocate and educate others on the importance of body representation in the media. 

In fact, I run my own lifestyle blog that focuses on disability advocacy, body positivity, and personal growth. Growing up with a rare disease that only affects 60 people worldwide with skin and limb deficiencies has given me an interesting perspective on life. By sharing educational information about the disabled community and my own lived experiences, I hope to enlighten others and inspire people to take action against ableism.

Shane Burcaw is doing this kind of work as well — he is an author and YouTuber who uses his corner of the internet to normalize interabled relationships and call out ableism and inaccessibility when he comes across it. His experience with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) inspired him and his cousin to start a charity called Laughing At My Nightmare. The organization helps those living with muscular dystrophy acquire essential equipment and aims to educate children on the importance of inclusion.

The important thing to remember about diversity is that no one person can completely embody any given topic, even if they fall into a specific marginalized demographic — they are simply offering one perspective. But if they have a different set of life experiences (especially if they’ve been marginalized), then it’s a valuable perspective that might widen your worldview. 

As you begin to search out and welcome new voices into your feed, remember two things: First, while these individuals and organizations publicly share their lived experiences, they do not owe any of us anything. At any point in time, they can decline to share information, even if they’ve talked about similar topics before. If we are going to engage with these accounts, we must be respectful of their boundaries and recognize that many of them are working for free to grow awareness and advocate for their community.

And second, there are a lot of players in this game. There are thousands of accounts dedicated to activism anywhere people face injustice. If we want to learn more about a subject, it is on each of us to do research, read literature, and find and follow more people who are well-informed.

Creators:
Jessica Ping-Wild
Published:
January 30, 2024
July 28, 2020
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