Do hashtags define us?

For the majority of my teenage life I definitely felt crippled by my size. Media taught me that big could never be beautiful. Even in television shows I love like Fresh Prince, big girls were seen as a joke. Now one point of view would just be “lose weight then,” but I think people don’t realise that maybe some girls want to be big. There are big girls that love how they look in crop tops and bodycon dresses but are afraid of making others feel uncomfortable. There’s something truly toxic about being the version of yourself you want others to accept.

The desire to lose weight for me purely stemmed from the perception that others had of me. So when models like Ashley Graham started receiving media attention I started getting excited but if I’m honest, it was for the wrong reasons. I thought that maybe guys would start to see me as attractive just as they saw her and it’s so clear how toxic that thought was.

Seeing #thickums and #thickthighssavelives trending onmade my insecure self feel relevant which is cool but if we take a real look at plus size campaigns they’re wearing close to nothing, they’re all the same body shape and the same models are used in every campaign. In no way am I discrediting those campaigns but I feel the message is potentially harmful to teenage girls like they were to me. They push the message that you can only be sexy when you’re wearing no clothes. And while Ashley Graham is amazing for championing representation of plus size girls, she’s become the ‘token fat girl.’ To no fault of her own brands feature her in every plus size campaign and every magazine which in turn becomes harmful because once again only one type of person is being represented.

It’s not just something that’s problematic for plus size girls. I’ve seen the same pattern in #melaningang. Social media in general has made things super difficult for young girls finding security in themselves. Do we all have to wait our turn for a hashtag to tell us we’re beautiful?

Written by Kemi Adeeko.

Cover image from GDS Brand shoot by VDR.
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