Not so long ago, Instagram wasn’t a kind place to women; the app was populated by photoshopped images and unrealistic depictions of women’s bodies. And while you could still argue that we have a long way to go, in recent months a clear shift has become noticeable on the social media platform, with an increasing number of women showing off their real (and beautiful) bodies. Honest posts of cellulite, bloated bellies, and different nuances of the female body present a new narrative, all the while spreading a message of acceptance and body positivity.
In the Middle East, one of the women leading the charge is Danae Mercer. The American health and travel journalist has taken her already popular profile and used her platform to encourage women to love their shape – no matter what it is. We caught up with Mercer during the PUMA Middle East Team Faster Summit in Jordan, where she told us a little bit about her journey with body positivity on Instagram.
You have changed your approach to Instagram – while it’s still very focused on travel and fitness, you’re also talking about body positivity. What led you to start pushing this message?
Funnily enough, this is the one most common question I get asked these days. The long and short of it is this: I realized that I was feeling disconnected from my audience, like I wasn’t being the real me (because I wasn’t), and that seeing a certain kind of images really helped me feel better about myself. So, I switched, and I have no regrets.
Was this a difficult decision to make seeing that Instagram is very much based on the “perfect” portrayal of life?
It was at the very start. Brené Brown talks a lot about vulnerability and courage and how the two things are linked. To do something really brave, really daring, we have to take a risk and put ourselves out there. When I first made the switch, it felt scary to me. Because I had spent years building up a certain idea of what I needed to be. But again, no regrets.
How has the feedback been?
Unlike anything I could have anticipated. In the UK and US, people have been talking about this stuff for years. In the UAE, we’re just starting the dialogue – and we need to! By talking, by connecting, we feel more powerful.
What’s your advice to women who want to learn how to love their bodies more?
Change what you consume. We are so impacted by what we see, read, and watch in ways we don’t even realize. So, start exposing yourself to more of a variety of sources.
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Let's change the conversation. We know social media is a highlight reel. That it's glamour. That it's perfection. We know it's people showing their best sides, their happy moments, their proud bits. But that's not human. Humans have vulnerabilities and softness and fears and hopes and fragility and CELLULITE and minds that have good days and bad days and ALL OF IT, humans have ALL OF IT. That's human. So let's change the conversation. Let's dare to make this wild, turbulent world of internet, something more positive. Whether it's one post, one comment, one bit of realness at a time. Because we have voices. So let's change the conversation. #strongertogetherselfie