1. Stephanie Yeboah, 27, is a marketing assistant and plus-size style blogger from London.
"The internet can be such a cruel place when it comes to body image," Yeboah tells BuzzFeed News. It was in 2014 that she decided to start talking about body positivity on her blog and on Twitter. "There needs to be a safe space online for people who do not fit the 'socially acceptable' standards of beauty to feel a sense of inclusion and acceptance and love," she says. "Which is why I use platforms such as my Twitter to constantly discuss body positive affirmations and to let people know that they are beautiful, regardless of size."
Yeboah says the reactions to her blog posts and tweets have been "absolutely overwhelming – especially the responses I get from other plus-size women of colour within the UK and Europe. Not too long ago I was in their shoes, feeling marginalised and excluded. Not only do we have to fight for body inclusivity, we also have to fight for racial inclusivity and acceptance also. To hear stories from my readers of colour who now feel confident enough to wear bright, bold colours or wear pieces such as crop tops or skirts fills me with so much joy!"
However, Yeboah says the UK still has a long way to go until all women are represented in the media. "We need to have a range of different body shapes shown on TV and we need for plus-size women to be the love interests for once to show that we ARE capable of being desired and loved. We need to see more representation when it comes to disabled bodies, the LGBT community, and plus-sized men. All bodies need to be seen as 'normal' – not just the exception," Yeboah adds.
2. Sebina Hussain, 25, is a legal adviser and fashion blogger from London.
Hussain made an impactful video addressing her confidence issues and discussing self-love to her audience of 55,000 subscribers. She tells BuzzFeed News: "I realised it was important that I was sending a more meaningful message, that I was teaching the girls who looked up to me that, yes, it's great to look good on the outside but you must also feel good on the inside."
She says she grew up during a time when magazines had a massive influence on young people, but says it's more complicated now with the rise of social media. Hussain wants young girls to always remember that even if "it appears as though everyone online looks perfect... [don't] forget that social media is a highlight reel."
Hussain adds: "We need more women of colour talking about self-love and more women of colour in prominent positions. It pains me that even in 2017 beauty is defined by the colour of one's skin."
She goes on to talk about colourism in the Indian community: "I was so proud when a major Bollywood star got the lead role in a massive US drama series; but if you look at older pictures of this actress her skin was a lot darker and whilst I don't want to speculate, it seems like something has been going on behind closed doors. It's sad that even successful and beautiful women feel they need to be lighter in order to feel more comfortable in their own skin."
Hussain says this unfair bias is promoting her to share positivity online even more than ever: "It's important that we lead by example and as women of colour embrace everything God gave us!"
3. Megan Jayne Crabbe, 24, from Essex, runs a body-positive Instagram and is a carer.
"I talk about body positivity online to let people know that they don't have to go through life at war with their bodies, there's another option," Crabbe tells BuzzFeed News. She's been posting on her body-positive Instagram for two and half years now and has gained over 757,000 followers.
Crabbe says she is greeted with "wonderful responses, mainly teenage girls and young women telling me how body positivity has changed their life." But Crabbe has also been body shamed online but isn't letting that stop her from uplighting others. "There are also a lot of trolls, a lot of people who are outraged that a woman would dare to embrace her body for herself, a lot of people conflating body positivity with 'promoting obesity' or some other faux health concern. The body positive community faces an unbelievable amount of backlash, and the bigger someone's body is, the more hate they get. People seem to think that there's a weight cut-off point for treating someone with respect."
Crabbe believes it should be mandatory for UK schools to teach all genders about body positivity. "We should be learning about diet culture, about size prejudice and fatphobia, about unrealistic body standards, from a young age. Until that happens, we just need to keep pushing for more diverse bodies to be represented in our media, keep calling out toxic diet culture when we see it and demanding better."
4. Chidera Eggerue, 22, from London, is creative director at Innclusive and a style blogger.
Eggerue truly believes in female empowerment, which she discusses with epic Twitter threads, on topics including: bad relationships, bad friends or celebrating women. Her threads gain thousands of likes and retweets.
She tells BuzzFeed News: "Through my tweets, Instagram captions, and blog posts, I continuously share my journey because I know that someone out there feels like me. I know that someone out there is embarrassed about being embarrassed. I know that someone out there is feeling alone and I just want them to know that they aren’t ‘crazy’."
Eggerue hopes secondary schools will do more to teach young girls about self-confidence but she also thinks brands can play a part too. "Brands need to invest more in running events around this self love and body confidence... Not just shouting ‘girl power!’ to sell body-con dresses and chokers. This does nothing to empower girls at all if they aren’t actively being reminded that there is more to the person you are than the products you buy. It really is not hard at all."
Victoria Sanusi is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Victoria Sanusi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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