Is this the end of Instagram’s ‘body positivity’ movement?

When the body positivity movement started, the reaction was well, positive. But the idea of loving yourself all the time eventually proved problematic for those who couldn’t live up to the ideal.

Accepting who you are is an important part of self-development. This isn’t just what you look like, but encompasses everything from your personality to sexuality and all the other things that make you ‘you’. This is especially relevant if the societal messages you receive don’t align with how you see yourself.

So when #BodyPositivity launched on social media, it struck a chord and began trending.

The issue is that we don’t always feel positive about our bodies. Which is OK. But the concept makes people feel that they always need to be, which can also be damaging.

New terms such as #BodyLiberation and #BodyNeutrality are now trending, giving people permission to accept that they can’t always be their own cheerleader but they are still more than what their physical form looks like.

That’s the idea behind the new #ComeAsYouAreCampaign.

The initiative by Instagram, America’s National Eating Disorder Association and blogger Jude Valentin who created The Mermaid Kingdom in 2014, a site based on radical self-love, is about accepting who you are – as you are right now.

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“I think the idea of perfection is something that is sold to us by a society that wants us to hate ourselves, and I’m tired of hating myself,” Valentin, 23, told Refinery29.

“I want the Kingdom to be a place where we can reject our perfectionist quests.”

It’s hoped that the new hashtag#ComeAsYouAre encourages social media users to accept differences, discourage comparison and accept perceived ‘flaws’ that can be ‘fixed’ with filters or apps such as Facetune which have a narrow perception of beauty.

“Social media doesn’t cause eating disorders, but it can amplify the behaviors that are present in those with disordered eating,” Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA told Refinery29.

This is why Instagram is on-board with the campaign that embraces authenticity over artifice.

“Our goal with #ComeAsYouAre isn’t necessarily to get rid of social comparison,” Dayna Geldwert, Instagram’s policy programs manager, told Refinery29.

“Instead, we want to give people tools to help them better manage how they interact with content that could make them feel negatively about themselves or their bodies. And [we want to] elevate [those] who are displaying diverse body types and experiences to help show that all points of vieware valid and important.”

The US campaign for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which runs from February 24-March 1, features videos from three people who have healthy interaction with Instagram. This includes Valentin, as well as Shira Rosenbluth, a social worker recovering from an eating disorder and Kelvin Davis, who wants more men to discuss body image issues.

Instagram and NEDA have also created a resource guide that includes tools, tips and information on how users can create content that makes their posts more “supportive and empowering.”

One of those tips is following accounts that promote diversity.

“We believe that visibility and exposure matter,” Geldwert said.

“The more diverse bodies you see, the more you may be able to appreciate how natural and beautiful all bodies are.”

If you want to make it easier to find content that resonates with this philosophy, follow hashtags that will lead you to supportive communities, such as #BodyLiberation, #RecoveryWarrior, #BodyLove and #FatAcceptance.

“You don’t need to prove yourself worthy to exist,” Valentin said.

“You’re allowed to exist, and be, and take up space… You are allowed to love and laugh and be.”

In Australia, Instagram teamed up with The Butterfly Foundation late last year to launch something similar, #TheWholeMe campaign.

Kevin Barrow, CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, said the idea was go get young people to use social media to connect with others rather than compare against them.

“The preliminary results from our ‘Insights in Body Esteem’ survey indicate that social media plays a significant role in shaping how young people view their bodies. We know that when young people are dissatisfied with their bodies and constantly comparing themselves, they can turn to ‘quick fixes’ that could potentially develop into an eating disorder,” he said.

“We hope that it inspires people to use Instagram intentionally and authentically.”

Philip Chua, public policy manager for Instagram Asia-Pacific said it’s about creating an online space that is “safe and comfortable” for users.

“We created these resources to combat any pressure people may feel to present a perfect image of their lives online, and to support their authentic expression online and on Instagram,” he said.