instinct’s Inspirational Influencers

In the spirit of March’s International Women’s Day, we reached out to women who inspire us in the social sphere to gain their insight into what changes need to be made within the industry, from gender bias to body positivity. Read on to hear expert opinions from multidisciplinary artist and equality and inclusion activist Khadija Mbowe , beauty content creator and race and gender activist Alice T and body confidence influencer and author Alex Light on which people or platforms they look to for education and inspiration.

 

Khadija Mbowe

1. Which woman making changes in equality do you look up to?

I would say Sonya Renee Taylor. She is truly an inspiration and an American who currently lives in New Zealand. Her book, ‘The Body is not an Apology’ has had a profound impact on my life and just the way I see, accept, and embrace differences.

2. The theme for IWD 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”, what do you think needs challenging in regards to gender bias and inequality on social media? Also, how can brands help to achieve this when working with influencers?

Our obsession and attachment to the gender binary is what needs to be examined. Gender is not just how we are socialized into society, it’s what we feel psychologically and socially and the more we consider that when we consider gender, the more space we can have for different expressions of it. Be that we fit it within the current binary system or dismantle the system completely and start anew. I think showing more content creators across the gender spectrum is a good place for brands to start. (And of course, education haha)

3.    What platforms or reading materials would you recommend that are working to lift women up?

I recently worked with Screenshot Media and I found their content and overall platform very empowering to all kinds of women. So I would suggest people definitely check out what they’re doing!

 

Alice T

1. Which woman making changes in equality do you look up to?

The first woman that came to mind is Kelechi Okafor, an actress, director, podcaster and pole dance instructor. I’ve followed her journey since opening her new studio to giving birth and she never fails to enlighten and entertain her followers. She openly discusses her experience as a black woman in the UK, recently touching on misogynoir in social media/pop culture and the government’s stance on the disparity of ethnic maternal experiences in the NHS. 

2. The theme for IWD 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”, what do you think needs challenging in regards to gender bias and inequality on social media? Also, how can brands help to achieve this when working with influencers?

I believe that the approach to uplifting and celebrating women all year round must be intersectional in order to story tell accurately. I think this is a challenge not all brands have been successful at and the only way to authentically support women, is to share the voices and experiences of diverse women. Brands can achieve this by listening to the women within their teams, diversifying the women in their teams and then once the work has been done internally, working with a range of influencers in terms of race, body type, identity and ability. 

3.    What platforms or reading materials would you recommend that are working to lift women up?

‘We Should all be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an essay/book adapted from her TEDx talk which explores what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century. A short but impactful piece of reading for women and men. I love how instagram allows bitesize knowledge to be shared to so many people at once and I’ve learnt so much from the resources available. The indian feminist, Feminist.co, Bloody Good Period and Munroe Bergdorf are all incredible pages to follow. 

 

Alex Light

1. Which woman making changes in body positivity do you look up to?

There are so many amazing women on social media who are driving the conversation around the marginalisation of people in larger bodies. For example, Stephanie Yeboah is a fantastic plus-size blogger who often talks about fatphobia and the challenges of finding clothes in bigger sizes while Dr Natasha Larmie, @fatdoctoruk, educates on the dangerous effects of weight stigma and campaigns to end it in the NHS – her work is incredible.

2.    The theme for IWD 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”, what do you think needs challenging in regards to body positivity on social media? Also, how can brands help to achieve this when working with influencers?

While the media has made big steps with body diversity – considering it used to be absolutely minimal – we still have a long way to go. ‘Plus size’ is still depicted as a 12-14, maximum 16, sized woman and sizes above that are rarely shown, despite a large percentage of the population requiring those sizes.
It’s super important for brands to really take a look at who they’re working with on campaigns to ensure it’s a really diverse set of influencers.

3.    What platforms or reading materials would you recommend that are working to lift women up?

I’d highly recommend ‘Fearing The Black Body’ by Sabrina Strings and ‘Fattily Ever After’ by Stephanie Yeboah. Iit really tackles the root of body marginalisation and breaks down the origins of fatphobia.