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Inspiration on Instagram: 7 people you should follow

Beautiful sunsets, beautiful breakfasts or whatever the friend of your friend is doing Saturday night?

Instagram is often criticized for showcasing unrealistic lifestyles that can make people feel insecure. But for me, the experience has been different.

Mimi Chenyao is a gender nonconforming software engineer, model and blogger. Photo courtesy of Mimi Chenyao.

Mimi Chenyao is a gender nonconforming software engineer, model and blogger. Photo courtesy of Mimi Chenyao.

When I remember that I’m in control of whom I follow, I steer away from the endless scroll exercise and customize my feed.

After a few months of navigating #hashtags and mentions in posts, and despite what mainstream media might write about social media’s negative impact on self-image and confidence, I believe that Instagram serves as a beautiful platform to counteract that amongst young adults.

For example, last year the photo-sharing app launched #hereforyou, a campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues. The campaign included a video in which members of the Instagram community expressed the support and connections they’ve gained on the platform.

 

Find Your Support Community on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

If Instagram feeds interest you and you find yourself rolling your eyes more often than you want to admit, refresh your feed. In my case, I wanted to find accounts that matched and challenged my values and ideas of culture and self-expression.

Here’s what I found.

Access to what many people embrace about themselves and inspire them to move forward is one click away.

Here’s a list of amazing accounts that showcase self-love, one-of-a-kind perspectives on physical appearance and multicultural expression:

  1. Hannah Witton

 hannahwitton is a British history major with a specialization in sexual history. Other than publishing videos about body image, sex, and gender she focuses on content about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and her experience living with a stoma.

2. Camila Rosa

camixvx is an illustrator from Brazil that showcases powerful celebrations of diversity through unique doodles with a spunk vibe.

3. Virgie Tovar

Tovar’s posts are all about body positivity. She uses her account, virgietovar, to encourage women to embrace their physical appearance and shares glimpses of her own life through #ootd posts that highlight her fashion sense.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

YHTRTRF reading at Quill in Westbrook, ME 🐱🌈

A post shared by Virgie Tovar (@virgietovar) on

4. Daiana Markosian

markosian is a Russian American photographer who uses her poignant camera skills to capture beauty in the mundane moments of everyday life around the globe.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Amsterdam #love

A post shared by markosian (@markosian) on

5. Jessamyn

My dad, who’s a yoga instructor sent me a link to Jessamyn’s account, mynameisjessamyn, and explained how strength amidst obstacles should always be remembered when practicing yoga. Jessamyn dispels myths about body shapes and shares messages about concentrating on personal wellness without comparing yourself to others.

 

6.  Mali

green_smiley_face, is self-explanatory. Don’t litter! Her feed looks like a juxtaposition between nature and beautiful spaces covered in trash.

 

7. Mimi Chenyao

Chenyao is a gender nonconforming software engineer, model and blogger. Although Chenyao’s account, fake.and.basic, is full of color and from a quick view you may assume it’s all fashion-driven, it’s anything but. She also shares social commentary and content on lifestyle and gender identity/gender politics. Read her most recent blog: HOW I’VE CHANGED SINCE COMING OUT AS GENDER NONCONFORMING. To view all three of Chenyao’s blogs, click here.

Although Chenyao's account is full of color and from a quick view you may assume it's all fashion-driven, it's anything but. Photo courtesy of Mimi Chenyao.

Although Chenyao’s account is full of color and from a quick view you may assume it’s all fashion-driven, it’s anything but. Photo courtesy of Mimi Chenyao.

In her own words: “with probabilities being the way they are, I know that other masculine-of-center femmes do exist. Maybe one of them is sixteen years old right now, feeling as alone and isolated as I did. I hope she finds this site and realizes that it’s completely OK to present and act the way she does.”

My own usage of Instagram has been consistent in the last eight years. I post once every week, scroll my feed for 10-15 minutes every other day and like every single photo of a particular pug account I won’t disclose because I’ve never met him in person.

Going back to the important subject.

What’s also amazing about Instagram is that, unlike Facebook, it derives value from its content created by its user for free. Even if Facebook owns the photo-based app, it has managed to not become a site entirely for commerce. Meaning no overflow of users that monetize their followings.

Remember that, despite the influence Instagram can have on us, we pick and choose how, where and when we’re active.

Documenting our daily lives is different from expressing our most inner beliefs and ideas- which is primarily why I still haven’t deleted my account. That and because I will never unfollow @itsdougthepug.

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