We've heard from models time and time again that their jobs can not only be physically draining, but mentally too. Being thrust into the limelight for everyone to gawk at, both in real life and on social media, leaves you open to judgement and criticism at all hours of the day and night. With no real break from the prying eyes, self-care and self-love are more important than ever, and we're seeing changes on social media that reflect that.
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And it isn't just the rich and famous who feel the pressure - a study by suggested that social media platforms can inspire feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Seven in ten aged 14-24 expressed that spending time on social media made them feel worse about their body image and there's been a real shift and focus from the different platforms to combat this.
2018 has been a better year than ever before for pushing the boundaries of what's 'normal' and what's 'beautiful', can social media actually be used as a force for good? We quizzed three curve models, Carina Behrens, Karmi Pinning and Fleur van der Hoeven from , on their opinions on social media, body positive movements, what they do to feel great and you're sure to feel inspired.
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How do you think social media has affected your confidence – positively or negatively?
Carina: I believe social media has done both in a way. On one hand, I never understand why women (yes, especially women) tear each other down. I mean how often are we told by society that we aren't enough in whatever way, so why do this instead of empowering each other? But on the other hand for me, social media has helped me to shift my ideal of beauty. Obviously what we see every day is what defines our ideals. The diversity on social networks has helped show me that there is more than one body type and they are all beautiful. Before, I thought you had to look like a Victoria's Secret Model to be beautiful (and I mean they still are beautiful and work very hard for what they do) but it's all our imperfections that make us unique and interesting. Perfection definitely isn't doing it for me anymore.
Karmi: Social media has been positive as I have seen the diverse amount of beauty that's celebrated in the world, but it has definitely come with pressures to always look a certain way and an overwhelming pressure to appear positive and confident all of the time. Social media comes with comparison, and comparison to others is detrimental to feeling confident. Sometimes it's important to take a step back from certain platforms and just take care of yourself without the distractions of people telling you how happy you should feel about your insecurities - while the community is an amazing place to share experiences of self-acceptance and perception, we each have our own individual journeys.
Fleur: I have a love-hate relationship with social media, because mostly it really inspires me, you can expand your network and be creative with it. But, you also see all the pretty perfect accounts and there were times that I compared myself with it. That made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, but now I see what's required to make those perfect pictures so it's not fair to compare yourself to that. I love to follow more authentic accounts with less retouched pictures - that inspires me a lot.
What’s your favourite thing about the body positivity community on social media?
Carina: First of all, social media gives us a voice. A pretty strong one as well. We can react to posts we see and have more or less a direct with brands and media companies to show them how we feel about what they do. Women that don't fit the standard (and that is the majority) have been ignored for so long and they've finally found a way to encourage each other and also to tell the fashion and beauty industry that we are here and we want to be heard and we want to be catered to. Fashion shouldn't be limited to our dress size and there are so many amazing accounts to follow that show you that you can wear whatever you want. There is a strong sense of community in the body positivity movement because it is something we are and all should be passionate about. Women empowering women is the key!
Karmi: Seeing so many beautiful women, both inside and out, document their journeys and help people is really amazing to watch. I have seen some confidence transformations as I have followed members of the BP community that has inspired me to do things I otherwise would not have done.
Fleur: I think everybody feels insecure about their body sometimes, and when people are sharing their story openly and honestly on social media, it inspires a lot of people to feel more positive and good about their bodies.
What makes you happy in your own body?
Carina: What makes me happy in my own body is taking good care of it, wearing beautiful lingerie, putting on a gorgeous dress and enjoying my curves. But at the end of the day, it is the fact that my body doesn't define who I am. It is what I do and how I treat people. I try every day to encourage women to learn to be grateful for the skin they are in and that bounces back on me and how I feel about myself and my own body.
Karmi: Seeing similarities in my body with my mum and the other females in my family makes me proud. I can see my heritage in the way I am built and I am also happy to see myself grow into a woman slowly as I develop. My strength also makes me confident.
Fleur: I think it’s a process to feel happy in your body, but at the moment I feel good in my body because I am learning to love myself and my body more. I don’t do diets, I try to eat healthily, but I don’t feel guilty when I snack. Working out makes me feel so good in my body - sometimes it’s hard to start my workout but the feeling afterwards gives me so much energy!
What inspires you to be a positive influence in the world?
Carina: Through social media and the inclusivity in fashion and the media, you can inspire so many women. It is the most rewarding thing to have women and young girls message you to tell you how much you influence how they feel in their bodies and that you are an encouragement to set aside all beauty standards and that there is no limit to wearing what you want. Enjoy life no matter your size.
Karmi: I think being a curve model, we are thrust into being positive role models just by showing a body type that has not been seen as socially 'attractive' in the fashion industry for decades. I love getting messages from women who tell me I make them feel confident, it's not like any other feeling I have experienced.
Fleur: I really get inspired by positive people to look at things in a different and positive way. So I love to inspire other people to think positive too, because when you focus on the good things - even if it’s really small - your opinion becomes more positive. When you feel and think positively, you'll radiate that energy and you will receive it back!.
What do you do to feel at your best?
Carina: I honestly feel the best after a morning workout. (And yes plus size women work out as well! I never understand why that has to be a contradiction.) I always feel fueled up for the day and ready to conquer the world. Also, I only surround myself with supportive people who lift me up and bring out the best in me. On social media I try to only follow accounts that make me feel good about myself. If I feel like a certain account makes me compare and doubt myself, I unfollow it. In the end, we spend so much time on Instagram and other platforms and I don't want to spend it with negative feelings.
Karmi: I'm still learning how to be positive in the perception I have of myself every day. I don't really do anything to feel my best but it tends to come with success. When I know I have worked hard or achieved something, my confidence translates into the way I perceive myself.
Fleur: When I surround myself with the people I like and have good energy, I feel really good. Sometimes I need a moment for myself and I meditate, it can be for 10 minutes and I feel recharged again. When I workout and eat healthily, I feel good as well, but there's nothing wrong with treating yourself and celebrating life! Finding the balance between those two is what makes me feel good.
What advice would you give to someone who’s struggling with self-acceptance?
Carina: Probably a lot of the above. Although in the beginning it has to come from yourself. You have to acknowledge that we are all different and that is the beauty in it. Try to be the best version of YOU and not trying to be like someone else. You are unique and so is your body. Cherish and take good care of it.
Karmi: I would say that self-acceptance is not something that once achieved will be present all of the time. Being confident in yourself does not mean placing the highest value on outward beauty but doing something that you enjoy and you feel is worthwhile in the long or short-term depending on where you set your sights. Personally, coming to terms with feeling negative about myself as being a normal, shared experience of all women has been invaluable. Self-acceptance comes with being satisfied with all areas of yourself, not simply body image.
Fleur: Everyone deals with it differently and I was struggling with it as well, but I realized at a certain point that I tend to compare myself with others. It didn’t make me feel better about myself and it wasn't going to change until I changed my mindset. Therefore, I try to be the best version of myself and not compare because nobody is perfect and you have to accept that.