Why it Shouldn't Matter what #iweigh: Our Fight Against Social Media
The #iweigh movement started with a photo. In it, six women, arguably the most famous faces of today. Or, to be precise, the most famous bodies, which is what many think of when they hear the name “Kardashian”. This photo, posted by an account unaffiliated to the family, showed Kim, Kris, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall, and Kylie, along with a number indicating how much each of them weighed. While the photo in and of itself was not particularly shocking given the emphasis on physical appearance in celebrity culture, it sparked a powerful response from radio and television presenter, model, and actress Jameela Jamil, currently known for her role as Tahani Al-Jamil on The Good Place. Jamil called out this misogynistic post to her followers via her Instagram story, voiced her anger and disgust at this reductive view of women, and in response posted what she herself weighed – just not in kg. Instead, the actress shared the aspects of her life that she considered more defining of her as a person than any number on a scale could ever be. This resonated with many of her followers, and the I Weigh Instagram page now has over 60,000 followers. At the time of writing, there are over 1,200 posts on this page, most of which are submissions by individuals using the hashtag #iweigh to express how they “weigh” themselves, through their relationships, likes, dislikes, achievements and struggles.
Jamil’s movement is certainly not the only body positivity campaign out there. Instagram, historically a platform where people share the most filtered versions of themselves and follow impossibly beautiful, airbrushed celebrities, is increasingly becoming a space for all bodies, not just those deemed beautiful by societal norms. Admittedly, the nature of Instagram means that your feed will be biased – I see a lot of body positivity posts because I follow a lot of people who promote it. However, the speed at which Jamil’s movement took off gives me a certain amount of hope that these messages are spreading, and potentially reaching the people who will need them the most.
The fight to promote body positivity on a platform like Instagram is not easy. Doing so goes against the widely accepted trope that the “best” bodies are small, cis, white. By its very nature, body positivity on Instagram is an intersectional movement, as the activists fight for space to be made on this platform for all bodies, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability or size. These accounts must compete with the Love Island bikini shots, the magazine headlines that are shocked at the existence of cellulite, the brands that claim to have a quick “fix” for fatness. The battle lines have been drawn, and they are embedded deep into our sense of self. I sometimes have my moments of doubt where I compare myself unfavourably to an Instagram account, and that is as a very confident, 23 year old. It scares me to think how seeing these “perfect” bodies and the multitude of ways promoted to “achieve” this look could impact on someone younger and more insecure than I. The body confidence movement on Instagram is an antidote to this, and one which I hope continues to grow in strength.
Here are some of my favourite Instagram accounts for the days that you need help to remind yourself that you are important and perfect, even if society tells you your body is not. ♥