Social media can often feel like a platform for perfection. Instagram features no end of impossibly in-shape, clear-skinned, got-their-lives-together women who can make you want to quit social media altogether.
Content like this could be where negative thoughts and self doubt come from. Taking a complete break is often advocated, but trying to abandon all your apps isn’t easy in a smart-phone dominated world.
Instead, a social media detox could be the way forward. Scroll through your Instagram homepage and unfollow every ‘perfect’ Insta-girl or account that makes you compare yourself or question what ‘normal’ is.
You don’t have to abandon your apps altogether, just fill your newsfeed with inspiration and positivity instead!
And here’s where to start. These are 11 of the most inspiring, female-focused Instagram accounts to cleanse your social media. Replacing those negative influencers with these positive forces will remind you that perfection comes in every shape, size and form – including yours.
1. Frances Cannon
Melbourne-based Frances Cannon is an artist whose work expresses what it is like to be a woman in the contemporary world. She draws and paints these experiences as artwork, including tattoos. Frances exhibits her work on her Instagram account, along with body-positive photography and messages which promote self-love and acceptance.
Follow Frances: @frances_cannon
2. Not Plant Based
Laura Dennison and Eve Simmons run their own website for troubled eaters, where they offer personal insight, information and advice as well as recipes. “We hope that people can learn to abolish diet culture, and instead eat whatever makes them happy,” says Laura.
Having both struggled with eating disorders, they now work to address the confusing messages around ‘health’ foods and eating plans. Their Instagram account features positive messages, funny illustrations and photographs of delicious food.
Follow Laura and Eve: @notplantbased
3. Sophia Hadjipanteli
Sophia has become known for the #UniBrowMovement. The independent model is credited with breaking beauty standards by refusing to conform. Her bold eyebrows meet in a trademark unibrow, which is often the main feature of the photography on her social media account.
Sophia’s Instagram page also includes frank discussions about her emotions and opinions on society.
Follow Sophia: @sophiahadjipanteli
4. UN Women
This is the official account for the United Nations organisation working specifically for women’s progress around the world.
“Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement had enormous socio-economic ramifications,” says the organisation on its website. “Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth.”
UN Women’s social media page features the personal stories of amazing women across the globe as well as gender-based statistics, information and inspiring quotes.
Follow UN Women: @unwomen
5. Gurls Talk
Beginning on Instagram, supermodel Adwoa Aboah created a safe space for young women to talk openly and without stigma. “The people at the top of the social media game don’t always take on that responsibility,”Adwoa tells Newsbeat.
“They show a life that’s out of many people’s reach.” Today, Gurl’s Talk is its own fully-fledged website and their social media continues to showcase the inspirational stories, illustrations and poetry of young women.
6. Ellie Wheeler
Ellie Wheeler is an activist for both Queer and disability rights. She’s the founder of We Exist Collective, which campaigns to make activism more accessible.
“Queer disabled people exist and we deserve the same access and safety in the queer community as abled queer people,” tweeted Ellie.
On her Instagram, she shares images related to her activism, as well as poetry and her personal experiences of disability.
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7. Florence Given
This account showcases the powerful illustrations and photography art of London-based artist and fashion student, Florence Given.
Her work includes bold drawings of females with strong feminist statements and has also been shared by Adwoa Aboah’s Gurl’s Talk. Her account is full of bright, sassy and intelligent examples of her art.
8. Jasmine Stacey
Jasmine launched a luxury lingerie brand after an operation for Crohn’s disease, which left her with an ileostomy bag. Jasmine says she aims to, “inspire a woman’s perspective of herself to bloom and flourish; to encourage her to regain her confidence and adapt to body image changes after surgery.”
Her Instagram includes photography of real models wearing her designs. “Our lingerie enables women to feel so effortlessly free from body-hangups,” says Jasmine. “Our social media is reflective of this, using women with scars, stomas and people who advocate body confidence to show other women who find us that they are not alone!”
9. Shalom Black
This young make-up artist demonstrates how she creates make-up looks over scarring as well as video tutorials on how to construct high quality wigs. Shalom has featured make-overs of women who have had similar experiences with burns and posts aesthetic images of strong fashion as well as make-up looks.
Her Instagram account is a strong force for positivity, and she writes, “Be your own kind of beautiful” as her bio.
10. Time’s Up
This is the official account from the latest and most high profile movement for gender equality in the media and entertainment industries. “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace,” say Time’s Up on their website.
“It’s time to do something about it.” Follow their Instagram for inspirational posts with empowering messages and quotes from those who have pledged to the Time’s Up cause.
11. Pink Bits
The illustrations on this account promote feminism, LGBTQA+ rights and body positivity, many being of real individuals. “I hope people feel empowered by and represented through my illustrations. I hope they feel celebrated and understood,” says Pink Bits artist, Christine.
“By viewing my body positive art, I would like them to be reminded that the narrow mould in which society expects women to conform-to is something of the past, and that we are breaking it down together.”
Words by Bethan Rose Jenkins