Building community has always been an important piece to organizing a movement to create social change. The current body positive community has been built by a strong network of like-minded individuals across the world — many of whom found each other through empowering body positive hashtags and social media campaigns.
As an indie designer and plus-size woman, discovering the online body positive community changed my life. For the first time in my life, I felt like I found a place where I not only belonged but where I also felt confident that I could make an impact. Body positive hashtags (and the women who created them) played a crucial role in my own entrance and acceptance into the community. And for many in the body positive community, building relationships through social media helped them learn to love themselves by being exposed to women who looked like them, too. In many cases, this community and these relationships also helped women accomplish their dreams and goals.
Plus-size fashion is changing. More and more major retailers are adding plus-size options and plus-size models are gaining more mainstream visibility. But that's not without the women (and men) who dared to be visible first and who challenged fashion, beauty, and body standards and fought to create a space where acceptance and self love reign supreme.
Hashtag Count: 687,000+
Founded by plus-size model and body positive advocate, Tess Holliday, the #EffYourBeautyStandards hashtag is a force. Equipped now with its own line of merchandise and an individual Instagram account with 127,000 followers and counting, this hashtag has helped to build community and break barriers by showcasing all bodies. The account is now run by six body positive babes selected by Holliday to best represent the movement and they make sure that you can find inspiration on their page any time of day.
Hashtag Count: 294,000+
The HonorCurves Instagram account was started by a woman named Honorine who decided to create a personal account that played on both her first name and her acceptance of her own curves. Two years ago, she started this account to document her own experiences in the hopes that others could relate and now she has more than 103,000 followers. In a recent interview with Just Because, she said, "This account is created as a safe space to share our stories and our journeys with others, different from ourselves yet so very much the same, all united in our quest to be kinder to our bodies as they are today. "
Hashtag Count: 125,000+
The #CelebrateMySize hashtag was created by Plus Model Magazine in an effort to celebrate curves. The magazine aims to share 10 photos from the hashtag per day on their Instagram account. In each issue of the magazine, 12 images are selected to be featured in a two page spread celebrating how PMM readers love their bodies.
Hashtag Count: 25,000+
Blogger Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista started her blog back in 2008, which makes her an OG in the plus-size fashion game. Her hashtag #TCFStyle is used by other bloggers to capture their personal style and promote inspiration among the plus-size fashion community. In addition to re-posting these looks on her Instagram page, she is now picking five looks she loves every Wednesday to feature on her blog.
Hashtag Count: 21,000+
Founded by blogger Margot Meanie, the #AlternativeCurves hashtag was created to increase visibility and make alternative plus-size women more accessible through social media. And the hashtag has taken off in the past year. A haven for dark lipped, tattooed, bright-colored, hair-loving, plus-size women, the Alternative Curves account features a monthly challenge to help organize inspirational looks, such as this month's theme of black lipstick.
Hashtag Count: 14,000+
Canada's plus-size fashion magazine, Dare Magazine, created the hashtag #DareToWear. Instagrammers are encouraged to share their photos with #DareToWear and in addition to being re-posted on the @DareMagCananda Instagram, nine photos are featured in each issue of the magazine.
Hashtag Count: 13,000+
The #AndIGetDressed account is curated by plus-size fashion blogger Kellie Brown. Brown specializes in marketing and PR, which may explain why the #AndIGetDressed account looks like what I would imagine Vogue to look like if it was body positive. I use the word "curated" very purposely because the aesthetic of the images shared is extremely refined. While you won't catch any selfies here, the account remains a celebration of personal style, body positivity, and fashion at every size.
Hashtag Count: 12,000+
Skorch Magazine has been putting the spotlight on plus-size fashion for the past seven years — which makes them one of the oldest producers of digital content in the industry. The Skorch Instagram account was the first to ever repost my photo and they have always shown a lot of support towards indie designers, up-and-coming models, and new bloggers. Publisher Jessica Kane prides herself on finding new talent. Tagging photos with #SkorchMagazine may not only land you a repost, but potentially a feature in the magazine.
Hashtag Count: 9,000+
I really don't have enough good things to say about body positive advocate and plus-size model Essie Golden (if you couldn't already tell). Golden's hashtag #GoldenConfidence was actually started by Selina Weeks of Manik Magazine. Weeks was inspired by Golden's advocacy for women of all sizes to feel confident in swimwear. Golden took the tag and embraced it and what started out as swimwear empowerment has now turned into celebrating confidence in any look: Whether dressed up, at the beach, or in the mirror for a selfie, Golden wants to see your #GoldenConfidence.
Hashtag Count: 8,000+
From a branding perspective, ModCloth seems like a company that just gets it. From their no Photoshop pledge to their first transgender model, I continue to be impressed by ModCloth's inclusivity in its social media and marketing. I first saw them use the #FashionTruth when blogger babe Nicolette Mason designed a collection for the brand. Instagrammers were encouraged to share a photo with their #FashionTruth for a chance to win every piece from the collection. In December, Bustle editors teamed up with ModCloth to share their own fashion truths in support of size inclusivity.
Hashtag Count: 300+
While this is the newest hashtag on the list, blogger Amanda Richards' #ImNoModelEither campaign sparked an important conversation in the body positive community. Richards' goal was to have women submit photos of themselves in lingerie and increase the visibility and voice of women not usually showcased in mainstream plus-size fashion. Though the campaign is new, the photos and accompanying stories are powerful. Richards told Bustle earlier this month: "It was really awe-inspiring to realize that most women navigate a tremendously long and complex journey when it comes to their bodies — especially because it feels so lonely sometimes. The truth is no matter what the story, someone can relate to it.”
Images: Courtesy Tess Holliday; EffYourBeautyStandards, HonorCurves, PlusModelMag, MarieDenee, AlternativeCurves, DareMagCanada, AndIGetDressed, SkorchMagazine, EssieGolden, ModCloth, AmandaKater/Instagram