Monday, June 27, 2016

10 Must-Follow Self Love Instagram Accounts

Alright, I'm not gonna lie to you... I'm pretty much over Facebook. It used to be an amazing place to post activities, share photos, and keep in contact with people from high school. Now it's just an overwhelming plethora of opinions, which everyone else thinks they have the right to comment on and fight about. I find myself more frustrated when I log off than socially engaged. Actually, I usually just log off with a lot of anger. Usually paired with an eye-roll or two. 

Instagram, however, I find rather refreshing. It's all pictures, so you really can't get too offensive or controversial. Not that I hated Facebook because it offended me, but because it seemed to offend everyone else and they were just annoyingly vocal about it. I love to look at people's Instagram pictures. I love to see what they did that day, the inspirational quotes that speak to their life, and the icons that inspire them. After I published Love Yourself(ie), I began thoroughly enjoying viewing others' selfies and hearing their "Selfie Story." After the Fingerprint Project, I was enthralled with others' personal touches to the sentimental craft. I love watching my friends experience life through photos, and I love hearing from my readers and being tagged in their stories. 

But more than anything, I enjoy my stomach not churning from unnecessary online political debates. I enjoy being encouraged more than frustrated, and I value the inspiration over the criticism. Everyone seems to think loving people "as they are" would fix all the hatred in the world, but those same people refuse to respect others' beliefs, listen to their opinions, and agree to disagree. The truth is: we're all hypocrites. And the best way to remain in a healthy mindset is to ignore everyone who doesn't have one. I don't know about you, but I'd rather just remove myself from the negativity. 

Personally, I think loving everyone would fix most of the hatred in the world, but it's nearly impossible. The reality of today's society is that everyone is too focused on themselves to give others' a single thought. And as if that's not a problem in itself, the main problem is that people are too concerned with the image they maintain and the reputation they possess rather than actually taking the time to love themselves from the inside out. 

It's funny, isn't it? The more you think about it, everything good and productive and refreshing starts with love. Not merely loving the people in this world, but also loving yourself. Yes, you must accept others. But it's awfully difficult for others to accept you if you don't even know who you are. You have to know what you believe. The thoughts you think, the passions you possess, and the dreams you have are important. What you stand for is a crucial part of who you are, and you must remain confident in it. Confident and humble. Be strong enough to know your worth and form some opinions, but never arrogant enough to force it on someone who doesn't appreciate it. Not everyone will agree with you. Be friends with them anyway. Not everyone will listen to you. Hear them out anyway. Not everyone will respect you. Love them anyway. But if someone is infecting your happiness and destroying your peace, remove them from the prominent space they hold in your life. Don't fight. Don't force. Don't freak. Just walk away. Strength might seem silent, but insecurities are loud. 

Unfortunately, I can't give you a whole new circle of friends who will instantly fill your mind with positive thoughts and encouragement. I can't even give that to myself. We're all involved in activities, careers, and classes where negative people will inevitably be thrown our way. I can't remove those people from your life (or mine, for that matter). But I can give you a new sphere of influence via social media. I have a hard time finding positive people on Facebook, and even sometimes on Twitter. But my Instagram feed is full of them, so I'm sharing my top ten favorite and refreshing Instagram accounts dedicated to promoting self love. 

Quite possibly the most well-known self love accounts on Instagram, @effyourbeautystandards was founded by Tess Holliday (formerly Tess Munster), a fabulously feminine plus sized model. Dedicated to self love and body positivity, Tess was determined to remind women everywhere that size was not a definition, and it was certainly not to hold you back from living a life of fierce beauty. She began the #effyourbeautystandards movement on Instagram in 2013, and now has its own private account for features, inspirational stories, and motivational quotes. I don't agree with everything in Tess' life (as in, I'm unlikely to use the language she uses or post the type of pictures she posts), but I don't have to. What she stands for is undoubtedly important, and every girl has the right (and the job) to love herself. If I've reposted something on Instagram, there's a 90% chance it came from this account. 

@nofiltermovement was started by Lacey from Letters of Lace the moment she noticed that life has become defined by how it looks rather than how it is truly lived. No one is genuine, authentic, or real anymore. "Where does fake stop and freedom start?" Lacey writes on her #nofiltermovement page. She blatantly states that no one is perfect, including herself, and all women deserve to see things as they are rather than the filtered social media photo that has been edited and altered to perfection. It doesn't just create a false identity on social media. It creates a false and unattainable standard for young women to attain. 

The @ichoosereal account operates on the truth that over 70% of young women suffer from low self esteem and are engaging in self harming behaviors because they honestly believe that they are not enough for this world. That belief is an absolute lie, and they don't want any more people suffering from the toxic effects of our altered, edited, filtered, and photoshopped society. I find so much refreshing support from this account, because it fights body shaming and altered images while also bringing light to the fact that people struggle. And it's okay to struggle. As long as you don't give up on yourself. 

@aerie is a a branch of American Eagle selling bras, underwear, swimsuits, and more. Known for their #aerieREAL campaign, they were one of the first fashion brands to ban the photoshopping of their models. Granted, they are still models. They are still slim, fit, and gorgeous. But thighs are not slimmed down. Stomachs are not tucked in. Necks are not elongated, shape is not augmented, and skin is not airbrushed. Each model is represented with every curve, edge, tattoo, and piercing that they have in reality, branded with the hashtag #thegirlinthisphotohasnotbeenretouched. And if that wasn't amazing enough, for every untouched swimsuit photo uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #aerieREAL, they're donating $1 (up to $30K) to the NEDA

The Shimmer, Sparkle, Shine project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young girls see and celebrate their self-worth. Girls everywhere are battling bullying, body shaming, eating disorders, traumatic experiences, and depression with every passing moment, and @theshimmerproject helps young women fight these thoughts and experiences with activities and nourishment. Various classes, workshops, and celebratory self-worth days are offered through the organization, and each staff member, volunteer, and participant is able to freely share their story and struggles free of judgement and free of charge.  

This account is very similar to Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots' #StraightenYourCrown movement, taking a new approach to body positivity, self love, and beauty distortion by helping women realize their true identity as a daughter of the King of all Kings. All women are truly beautiful, truly loved, and truly chosen to reign as a Princess of Christ. Providing support on the hardest of days and propelling praise on the most joyous of celebrations, @chosen_to_reign focuses on promoting beauty in the right priority: from the outside in. 

@projectheal is a non-profit organization that openly believes a full eating disorder recovery is possible, and raises funds for these recoveries. Openly sharing struggles, support, and success stories, Project HEAL is run by two anorexia survivors who are on a mission to help recovery warriors eat, accept, and love. 

Quite possibly my favorite Instagram accounts to date, @fallingintoselflove shares the story and recovery celebrations of young teen Kathleen. As an eating disorder survivor, she has started her own campaign, #rollsarentjustforcinnamon, with the primary goal of showing young girls what real women look like, despite the lies they see in advertisements and the media. She now shares body positive photos with supportive and encouraging captions, while also documenting her latest kitchen creations. They are healthy, they are vegan, and they are to die for. Known for her authentic positivity and addictive, dazzling smile, Kathleen ignores all offensive bullying and continues to shine her light, serving as a stunning inspiration for eating disorder fighters and self-love promoters all over the world. I know I aspire to be just like her!
Anorexia recoverer and trauma survivor, Maria, is sending "positive vibes" and unyielding support for all women struggling with eating disorders, mental illness, and low self-esteem. Much like the beautiful Kathleen, pictures her rockin' recovered body, her delicious meals, and multiple quotes of support and encouragement. Whether you struggle with mental illness or not, her account is full of useful information and contagious optimism. 

I am all for body positivity and self love. I believe that every woman has the right to feel stunningly captivating in her own skin, whether she's under 100 pounds or over 300. But I must say, I'm not a particular fan of the "fat movement" that's really in right now. I am not in support of letting your body go because "beauty comes from within" (even though it does), and I am not promoting the idea that you can feed your body whatever you want simply because "your heart is the most beautiful thing about you" (even though it is). I touched on my thoughts in A Sturdy Vessel. Your soul is the loveliest thing about you! It holds your thoughts, your opinions, your intelligence, your talent, your passions, your faith, your compassions, and your life! And your beautiful soul needs a sturdy vessel. @healthyisthenewskinny promotes exactly that. They are not interested in the number on the scale, the size of the pants, or the shape of the body. They picture thigh gaps and no thigh gaps. They picture women with round bellies and flat bellies. A couple of rolls, a few stretch marks... Those things are typical, expected, and normal for healthy young women. They could care less what the body looks like, as long as it is healthy and carrying your beautiful soul in a healthy way. 

The bad news is, that's all I have for you today. Those are my top ten; the ones I find myself liking every picture they post. The ones I would be honored to feature or am dying to know their story. The good news is, there's a thousand more. I have found so many wonderful accounts just by stalking these top ten and who they follow. 

While there's a great debate about how much technology is too much technology, most of us check our social media accounts at least five to eight times a day. That's five to eight times a day that you are feeding your brain thoughts that influence your mental health and behavior. You want to make sure those thoughts are healthy, just as you would feed your body healthy foods to keep it functioning at its maximum potential. 

And of course, if you don't follow me on Instagram... I've got an eleventh account to add to the top 10. Follow @taxistotsandpolkadots to stay up to date on the blog, catch a glimpse of my personal life, and receive more support and encouragement on your journey to self love. Even I'm still on the journey myself. Remember, we're in this thing together, beautiful. 


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