THE SUNNY SIDE OF SO­CIAL

FROM FASH­ION BLOG­GERS CEL­E­BRAT­ING THEIR CURVES TO PREG­NANT TRAV­ELLERS, WOMEN ARE US­ING SO­CIAL ME­DIA TO RE­JOICE IN EX­ACTLY WHO THEY ARE

Emirates Woman - - Con­tents - Words: Danae Mercer

So­cial me­dia: Cel­e­brate your real self.

Lu­anne D’Souza’s In­sta­gram feed @wee­shas­world looks like many of Dubai’s stylish fash­ion blog­gers. In one post she’s laugh­ing, wear­ing an off-the-shoul­der black top with bows. In an­other, dressed in jeans and fash­ion­able train­ers, she’s star­ing into the cam­era. There are flat lays, make-up shots and plenty of lip­gloss snaps.

Only there’s one no­tice­able dif­fer­ence: D’Souza’s fash­ion comes with a healthy dose of body con­fi­dence. She’s one of the UAE’s blog­gers cel­e­brat­ing a curvier fig­ure. “Over the years I’ve shared my own strug­gles with be­ing big and learn­ing to ac­cept my body and how fash­ion played a role in that jour­ney,” she says. “I mostly post out­fits to show that big girls can be stylish too.”

D’Souza isn’t alone. While In­sta­gram might be pop­u­lated by teeny mod­els in skimpy out­fits and peo­ple us­ing fil­ters to give the ul­ti­mate flat­ter­ing shot, there are a grow­ing num­ber of women us­ing it to cel­e­brate beauty in all its shapes, sizes and life­styles.

There’s ev­ery­thing from heav­ily preg­nant mums to ripped weight-lift­ing women, make-up artists with dis­abil­i­ties to cur­va­ceous fash­ion blog­gers. Some women cel­e­brate their rare skin con­di­tions, like the Cana­dian model Win­nie Har­low. Oth­ers, like the tal­ented beauty blog­ger Emily Jones (@beau­ty­byemi­ly­lou), show that a wheel­chair and a feed­ing tube won’t get in the way of a great cat’s eye flick. A quick search of the hash­tag ‘dis­abledand­cute’ fields more than 6,000 fash­ion-filled posts. Type in ‘girl­swho­lift’ and you get thou­sands more, this time fo­cused on strong women in ly­cra.

Many posts seem to be singing the same song: we are who we are and we do what we do so ac­cept us as we come.

“So­cial me­dia and blogs played a ma­jor role in help­ing me be­come con­fi­dent,” says D’Souza. “My feed is filled with stylish women of all shapes and sizes and it re­ally in­spires me to love my body. Hope­fully I’m do­ing the same for any­one who fol­lows me.”

On In­sta­gram, women aren’t just cel­e­brat­ing ev­ery body shape and size — they’re also shar­ing ev­ery stage of their lives. Nowhere is this more ob­vi­ous than moth­er­hood. Demi Moore made head­lines in 1991 for pos­ing on the cover of Van­ity Fair when she was seven months preg­nant. These days an ever-grow­ing num­ber of ex­pec­tant mums are shar­ing their own preg­nan­cies.

“I was cel­e­brat­ing the beauty of cre­at­ing a mir­a­cle,” says Dubai in­flu­encer Nina Ali (@ lip­stick­mommy on In­sta­gram) when asked what in­spired her to share im­ages of her ex­pand­ing baby belly. “When you feel and see the growth of your baby in­side you, you re­alise how beau­ti­ful your belly is. It’s un­be­liev­able,” she says.

“I started to get many mums and soon-to-be mums fol­low­ing me and from there it be­came a great cir­cle of sup­port­ive ladies. It’s amaz­ing how so­cial me­dia has al­lowed us to con­nect with like-minded peo­ple and get to know them on a daily ba­sis. The com­mu­nity has been ex­tremely sup­port­ive.” To­day Ali shares glam­orous shots of her and her three chil­dren with about 126,000 fol­low­ers.

Dubai-based Zahi­rah Marty, whose In­sta­gram ac­count @MeetMrsMarty com­bines be­ing an ex­pec­tant mum with trav­el­ling the world, also stresses the strength of on­line com­mu­ni­ties. “I’ve been com­pletely blown away by the pos­i­tiv­ity I’ve re­ceived,” she says. For Marty, one of the most pow­er­ful things has been the feed­back from oth­ers. She points to com­ments oth­ers have made say­ing she’s helped them learn some­thing or find a bit more hap­pi­ness. “Know­ing I’ve made a pos­i­tive im­pact on some­one’s life through a blog or In­sta­gram is very re­ward­ing.”

The com­mu­nity of curvy women can be sim­i­larly sup­port­ive, says D’Souza. “We make sure we sup­port each other, even if it’s just leav­ing heart emo­jis on a post. We’re some­how part of each other’s daily lives and it’s nice to have that pos­i­tive con­nec­tion with peo­ple around the world.”

There are clearly more types of women with dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests than there are new Kylie Jen­ner posts — and in­creas­ingly, these women are build­ing their own com­mu­ni­ties through so­cial me­dia. That’s an em­pow­er­ing thing, says D’Souza.

“On In­sta­gram, I get a lot of mes­sages from women say­ing I’ve helped them push their bound­aries with clothes, like wear­ing sleeve­less tops,” she adds. “All of them mat­ter to me so much be­cause I know I’m putting some good out there in the world.” #girlpower

“I MOSTLY POST OUT­FITS TO SHOW THAT BIG GIRLS CAN BE STYLISH TOO” - LU­ANNE D’SOUZA

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