Instavism – How the plus size fashion community can make real world changes to empower women

Research from Simply Be has revealed that body positive hashtag volume on Instagram is phenomenal. Hashtags #EffYourBeautyStandards and #BodyPositivity outstrip some of the biggest social campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp.

Here you can see some popular hashtags and their volume on Instagram in June 2018.

#bodypositivity-SimplyBe

We think that the BoPo community could be missing an opportunity to use these hashtags to make real world changes. It’s a fantastic achievement to have united millions of people in conversation, but now is the time to turn talk into action. We have momentum but need to use it before we lose it.

These hashtags are used across several social platforms and their Instagram volume should not be used alone to judge their importance or success – there is a wider picture of what goes on behind each hashtag for you to find out about.

Call to action

There are many sensitive reasons behind the Instagram volume results that make it easier for people to use #BodyPositivity than #MeToo, but looking at it purely in terms of real world activity, one thing that separates #EffYourBeautyStandards and #BodyPositivity from #MeToo and #TimesUp in terms of success is that they have no clear call to action. Here’s some examples of activism moving from online to IRL (in real life).

  • #ALSIceBucketChallenge’s call to action to donate raised more than $100 million for the ALS Association and the same again for equivalent organizations around the world. According to the ALS Association, more than $77 million of that went to research, which recently uncovered a key gene, NEK1, that contributes to more than 3% of ALS cases.
  • #TimesUp raised $21m for the Time’s Up legal defence fund and gathered 200 volunteer lawyers
  • #WomensMarch got 4million people to march together

Imagine what could happen if we could assign a clear activity to body positive hashtags to make real change? The impact could be huge.

 

The power of the hashtag

In the last few years, we’ve seen world-changing activity start on social media and keep going into real life through momentum gained by hashtags.

Instagram, once the place for pretty pictures filtered to perfection, is the new hub of this activity. Scroll down your feed and you will see, in between the brunches, street style and kittens, there are people wanting #change, #equality, #respect and demanding it #NOW.

Today, hashtags are a key part of how we communicate online, making conversations accessible to all. These conversations are becoming increasingly powerful.

Critics argue that the hashtag can never be more than a campaign that gets people talking, but then dies down, not resulting in real change. British journalist Zoe Strimpel said: “Would the man who appeared in the shadows last night as I walked back from the station be impressed by the #metoo movement? He probably hasn’t heard of it.”

Some also argue that hashtags hurt charities, as keyboard activists feel they have done their job by liking of retweeting a message, when charities need real life donations to continue their work.

Keyboard apathy is such a problem in fundraising that in 2013, UNICEF Sweden tackled it with a hard-hitting poster and video campaign: “Like us on Facebook and we will vaccinate zero children against polio. We have nothing against likes, but vaccines cost money.”

Unicef-Instavism-SimplyBe

 

Hashtags that have benefitted the real world

Hashtags can also do a lot of good. They undoubtedly open up worldwide conversations and unite people, which in itself it an important first step towards change. They can also lead to action and real results.

 

#ALSIceBucketChallenge, 2014

According to news sites, in 2014 there were 3.7million videos uploaded onto Instagram with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge. There were more than 1 billion YouTube views and 10 billion Ice Bucket Challenge videos viewed on Facebook across 153 countries. It was mentioned 2.2 million times on twitter between 29 July and 17 August 2014.

So what? Some accused these dripping wet ‘armchair activists’ as narcissists jumping on the latest bandwagon. But this social media phenomenon, together with a call to action to donate raised more than $100 million for the ALS Association and the same again for equivalent organizations around the world. According to the ALS Association, more than $77 million of that went to research, which recently uncovered a key gene, NEK1, that contributes to more than 3% of ALS cases.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge-SimplyBe

 

#MeToo, 2006 / 2017

Originally started by Tarana Burke in 2006 to unite survivors of sexual violence, the hashtag gained momentum last year in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, gaining A-List flagbearers. The goal of #MeToo is to give people a voice, encourage them to speak out and show survivors that they are not alone.

As well as starting conversations that need to happen and removing the cloud of shame that has kept predators from being exposed, tangible action is that from October to December 2017, calls to US crisis hotline, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network rose by 23% compared with the same period in 2016.

 

#WomensMarch, 2017

Originally a response to women against the new Trump presidency, the hashtag #WomensMarch became much more, generating a worldwide conversation addressing a host of women’s issues. As well as uniting people online, they came together in real life, with more than 4million people marching worldwide.

Womens-March-SimplyBe

 

#WomensMarch-SimplyBe

 

 

#TimesUp, 2018

The hashtag follows on from #MeToo and calls time on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. Since the beginning of 2018 it has drawn attention to the Times Up movement and raised more than $21m for the Time’s Up legal defence fund and gathered 200 volunteer lawyers, supporting women with legal and public relations assistance.

 

#TimesUp-SimplyBe

 

Lawyer Karuna Nudy says: “There’s an interplay between public consciousness, and the law and due process. And that’s exactly what I think is happening.”

It appears that the tipping point for a hashtag to translate into real life is a clear call to action – what do we want people to actually do?

Let us know what action you think #BodyPositivity could encourage in the comments below.

Have we missed out any hashtags? What change would you like to make? What action do you want people to take? Let us know in the comments and join the #BodyPositive Instavism at Simply Be!

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