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
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