Social media can be toxic. You start thinking about what you don’t have unconsciously, and it makes you unknowingly compare yourself to others. It leaves you questioning what you are, and what you have. You may be strong, but there will always be days when you’re just more fragile than the usual.
Two years ago, I went on a social media detox. I unfollowed friends, artists and celebrities on all social media platforms. As far as I was concerned, they brought out the worst in me. I felt like I was never enough — why wasn’t I traveling? Why am I not thin enough? Am I unlovable? Why don’t I have my own partner in crime? I always felt like I wasn’t enough, and one day I was just done with it.
I started filtering my feed. I muted and unfollowed people on Twitter and Facebook. I left my Instagram feed devoted purely to travel, music and just a number of friends. I went online and looked for people to follow, mostly body positive women who had an attitude of their own, unafraid to be who they are. It all started with Ashley Graham — the Queen of all body positive models. Then, I learned of people like Barbara Ferreira, Hari Nef, Dounia, and Iskra Lawrence.
They are models, artists, or musicians who did not fit society’s mold. They flaunted their bodies online without a care — cellulite and chub rub included. Hari Nef, on the other hand, is a transgender model making waves in the industry. Jsyk, at the age of 22, she had Vogue.com under her belt. They are activists too who would show themselves in LGBT rallies, and spoke their mind online. To be honest, I started wearing bralettes because of them. Iskra Lawrence is a model for Aerie, Aeropostale’s underwear line, and she was proud of her body. I thought: why the hell can’t I be the same?
These people, a girl gang in their own right, showed that they were completely aware of who they are, and they were proud of it. Their Instagram accounts purveyed positivity. Their Twitter accounts weren’t just purely to sell, they injected bits of themselves in it. They spoke up. The more I read and followed their journey, the more accepting I became of myself. The best part? They aren’t just friends with one another. They are also friends with fellow models, and celebrities who are commonly considered to be THE It girls of our generation. (Barbara and Dounia were part of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Boy Problems music video!!!) Friendship like that allowed me to examine friendships of my own. How there isn’t a cliche girl gang anymore and how diverse it can (and should) get. Why would being plus sized hold people back from anything in the first place?
By following them and seeing how confident and wonderful they are being just themselves, I have learned to love myself. I have learned to accept who I am. I may have not come full circle, but I know I have changed enough because I started adding back the people I used to “hate-follow.” I’ve started becoming more accepting of my friends. I went back to enjoying and finding inspiration from different people’s lives. I’ve learned to appreciate beauty of all kinds, all without a tinge of disappointment in myself. Sure, there are still days that I can feel incompetent, but never to a point that I question myself. I used to think that social media was toxic, but with people like Dounia, Iskra, Barbara, and Hari, I like to think otherwise.