Thanks to the lack of representation in the beauty industry and the media, 'beauty' standards have been completely homogenized over the course of decades. Nowadays, if you're not fair-skinned, blond with light eyes, thin with a nice, round behind, then you're not beautiful. At least, that's what we're led to believe.
However, social media is helping pave the way for more representation, thanks to the many different influencers who, through posting real-life, raw and unfiltered photos of themselves for the world to see, are helping empower women to love themselves exactly for who they are. The body confidence movement, for example, essentially began and grew on Instagram. Body confidence is about an individual’s acceptance of themselves, about loving yourself. It stems from the body positivity movement, and the fat acceptance movement, which started in the 1960s.
Jessica Megan, alias @jess_megan on Instagram, is a big advocate for the body confident movement. Oh! My Mag UK interviewed her to get her take on the body confidence movement, and asked her to share some tips with you, our readers, for learning to love and accept yourself.
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I’m a body confidence influencer, curve model, writer, speaker, millennial with a great big multi-faceted career (as so many are these days), but my main goal is to bring women around to realising how marvellous their bodies are.
In your words, what is the body positivity movement?
The Body Positivity Movement is a movement by and for fat women. It’s more politically focused on the social, medical and workplace discrimination against fat bodies. Although I am a supporter of this movement, I am not an activist within it. I personally am more focused on the body confidence movement which looks to comfort and empower women into accepting their bodies.
Tell us about your path to self-acceptance.
Its hilly, and laden with big rocks. Sometimes the rocks are small and you just hop over them, some rocks are huge and you can’t see the path for days, maybe even months. The trick is to be persistent, and keep hold of a few crucial things:
- We only get 80 years, don’t let other peoples small minded opinions of you dominate that tiny speck of time
- Your body is the innocent party, punishing it for what others think of it will lead only to self flagellation and misery
- I am a good person. This one is simple, but with so many conflicting messages around that make us feel like we are somehow wrong, its an important reminder
Do you still experience moments of self-doubt? How do you overcome those?
All the time, and I always will, and so do the strongest people. Self-doubt happens because we aren’t always sure we can live up to our capabilities, and we don’t want to look foolish or trip up. But self doubt should never cut the legs out from underneath you, it might buckle them, you may stumble every now and then, but it should never take away your ability to walk. So I just remind myself in times of trouble 'you’re on the right path, get up and walk.'
How do you feel about the current state of the beauty industry? Are we making progress in terms of representation and diversity?
Yes, its getting better, but there are still large demographics being forgotten about, for example, non-able bodied people, people with skin conditions, women above 30 years of age… The insistence that women stop being relevant over 30-35 is one of the biggest issues in the beauty industry. This is something that has to change soon, because it's incredibly offensive and it makes me very angry. The fetishisation of youth is dangerous in a million ways, and is deeply harming women.
Your body is the innocent party, punishing it for what others think of it will lead only to self flagellation and misery.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
My future self. It’s a crap answer on the surface, but this should be everyones main inspiration. Who inspires you? It should be the future of you! Thats the only person you should aspire to be like, everyone else is on their own path and comparison is the thief of joy. I do love Caitlin Moran & Rebecca Corry though.
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
I love you, trust your instincts.
It's what I tell myself even now.