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The TikTokers promoting body positivity

TikTok is a video-sharing social network that allows users to create and watch short videos. The app has over 800 million active users worldwide. It has become the social media sensation of lockdown – during March 2020 the app had over 745,000 downloads in the UK, surpassing Facebook and WhatsApp.

Contrary to popular belief, the app is not just for pre-teens replicating global dance crazes.

TikTokers have utilised the app as a way of championing body positivity and celebrating all body types. #Bodypositivity has over 2.4 billion hits on the app to date. It allows real people to show off their stomach rolls, acne, cellulite, or body hair. There are clothing hauls, tutorials, dance videos, and vlogs, radiating the message that you do not need to change your body to fit society’s unattainable beauty standards.

While delving into the world of ‘bopo’ (body positivity) on TikTok, I connected with four leading creators who have over 9 million likes and 445,000 followers combined.

@luvjessicablair

@luvjessicablair

all of these are natural!! pls don’t let anybody shame u for them! 🥺 #fyp #foryou #selflove #bodypositivity #FeelingGood

♬ Heart Of Glass (Live from the iHeart Music Festival) – Miley Cyrus

Q: What does body positivity mean to you?

Jess: It means combating “ideal” beauty standards and systemic fatphobia by doing something seemingly radical: loving yourself and your body. I think it has become commercialised and watered down, but the movement’s original intent was a fat acceptance movement initiated by black women. Therefore, while everybody deserves to be comfortable in their bodies without facing discrimination, it’s important to recognise those roots and take the history of the body positive movement into account when discussing its true meaning.

Q: Why is it so important to love your own skin in 2020?

Jess: It’s always important to try to love the skin you’re in, but the pandemic has clearly highlighted the need for self-love. A lot of people are gaining weight or have been forced back into environments where their appearance is constantly commented on, which ends up reverting a lot of people back to toxic mindsets. You don’t need to be super productive or constantly working on “improving” yourself. Even if there wasn’t a pandemic, it is natural for people’s weight to fluctuate over the course of their life. We’ve been taught to associate weight gain with unattractiveness or failure, when in fact there’s nothing wrong with it. Weighing more doesn’t make you unworthy of self-love and respect, it’s just your body adapting and changing.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a university student struggling with their body image what would it be?

Jess: Try your best to be patient and kind to yourself. There’s no special secret that will improve your body image overnight, it’s something you have to work on daily. If you’re having a bad day, try to be understanding and don’t beat yourself up.

@cultivate_your_curves

@cultivate_your_curves

#iwouldntwannabeanybodyelse 💗 #bodypositivity #bopo #normalbodies #womensupportingwomen

♬ original sound – Hawkeronni

Q: What does body positivity mean to you?

Charlotte: It means never being ashamed of things we see as flaws – stretch marks, cellulite, scars, loose skin, missing limbs, tummy rolls, and skin conditions. We need to embrace our bodies and accept that they are part of our story, but that they do not define who we are as people.

Q: Have you always been body confident or was self-love something you had to work on?

Charlotte: It was definitely a journey for me to become body confident. I wish I had found self-love at a much younger age. I have more confidence now than I had when I was a size 12 during my late teens and early twenties. After having my two boys, I struggled with the changes my body went through and there were days I could not bear to look in the mirror. I began modelling a few years ago through encouragement from family and friends and it made a huge difference to my confidence. As I am getting older and immersing myself more into the ‘bopo’ world, it has become a huge passion of mine. I’m still breaking down barriers with my body confidence, posting pictures and videos of my body that I would never have dared upload.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a university student struggling with their body image what would it be?

Charlotte: Stop comparing yourself to others, be it people you know or strangers on the internet. Unfollow any account/page that makes you feel like you’re not good enough and only surround yourself with people who lift you up and support you.

@emmamattewsxx

@emmamatthewsxx

Topshops so cool I wish they did plus size:( #uk #haul #topshop #rippandagirl

♬ original sound – Lorenzo Garay

Q: What does body positivity mean to you?

Emma: Being body positive means being accepting and kind to your body regardless of shape size or weight.

Q: Why did you choose TikTok as a platform to promote body positivity?

Emma: I made a TikTok account as the world was starting to shut down with the pandemic, since I no longer had work or university commitments. It wasn’t my intention to spread the message through my videos but as people followed me and noticed how I was genuinely myself, the things I care about like self-love and body positivity shone through. 

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a university student struggling with their body image what would it be?

Emma: The biggest thing I have learned from sharing my life on social media is that when you see people being judgmental or hateful it definitely says more about them as a person than you. People who are down love to drag others down with them. You keep shining!

@cut.cake

@cut.cake

you have to stop comparing your body to other people’s bodies. #bodypositivity #plussize #fyp

♬ A Moment Apart – ODESZA – Hannah Stater

Q: What does body positivity mean to you?

Sarah-Jane: It means being able to show up exactly as you are. It’s accepting and celebrating everything about yourself and those around you and recognizing that people come in all shapes and sizes and that’s what makes us sparkly and special!

Q: What has been the response to your Tik Tok videos?

Sarah-Jane: For the most part incredibly positive! I feel like I have gained 300,000 best friends who are always hyping me up, and I do the same for them. As always, you get those people who tell you that you promote obesity by being happy in your skin when you live in a larger body. I try to focus on the other much more amazing comments and remember it’s impossible to please everyone.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a university student struggling with their body image what would it be?

Sarah-Jane: This is the time of your life when you are going to learn the most about yourself and grow into a whole new person. You learn what makes you tick and what you are truly passionate about without the influence of others. Take time to work on yourself. Remember that who you are is not the same as what size you wear! You are special, beautiful, and strong no matter what your size or weight.

 

These TikTokers prove that social media can be a safe and inspiring environment for individuals across the globe. Regardless of the platform, the message that these creators are promoting is something that we all need to hear. You are beautiful now. Not when you have lost weight, shaved your legs, or covered your acne.

Tags: beauty standards, body image, body positivity, self-love, TikTok

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