From food to fitness to fashion and home décor, social media apps give us the power to curate the posts that we want to see. Unfortunately, some people follow influencers who offer unhealthy advice, unrealistic curated images, or who promote one ideal lifestyle that’s out of reach for many. Instead of being inspiring and motivational, these feeds can cause low self-esteem.
Studies show that social media feeds that are filled with idealized thin body types have a detrimental impact on people’s body image. And while some people may long for the clothes, trips or décor they see on social media, studies show that being bombarded by an “ideal” physical appearance is more damaging than other types of posts.
Researchers link unrealistic beauty ideals on social media with disordered eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction, especially among young women. There’s a contradiction between what social media portrays as an ideal body type vs. the actual body most people have, and this chasm results in body image issues for many people.
Instead of filling your feed with unrealistic images of idealized thin women, consider following body positive influencers instead. Start with these 12 Instagram accounts.
Colleen Reichmann (@drcolleenreichmann)
Dr. Colleen Reichmann is a Philadelphia-based clinical psychologist who posts about body image, eating disorders, and motherhood.
Reichmann’s posts are down-to-earth and honest. They remind readers of simple truths such as “you are allowed to enjoy those desserts, even if someone else in your life is “not eating sugar right now”” and that it’s okay to have different tastes and different food choices than others.
She also tackles topics like dealing with a fat-shaming family member, how pregnancy affects the body, and raising young children.
Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn)
Jessamyn Stanley is an author, yoga teacher, and advocate for inclusive wellness. She is the author of Every Body Yoga and of YOKE My Yoga of Self-Acceptance.
Stanley’s feed features instruction on yoga poses, motivational mantras, and beautiful stories about how yoga has positively impacted her life.
If you have a stereotype in your head about what people who practice yoga are supposed to look like, drop it and follow this feed. Stanley is here to bust your pre-conceived notions and convince you to give yoga a try. Start by taking one of Stanley’s classes via The Underbelly.
Your Latina Nutritionist (@your.latina.nutritionist)
Dalina Soto is an anti-diet dietitian and who helps her followers eat without guilt and embrace their cultural foods with joy.
Many of her posts help reframe the stereotype that Latinx food is unhealthy. She reminds readers of the wonderful whole grains and vegetables in Latinx traditional foods, and debunk myths about diet culture tropes such as “cheat day.” She reconnects food to tradition, comfort and pleasure.
Importantly, Soto embraces all body types and reminds her followers that “the ultimate goal of healthy behaviors should not be weight loss.”
Shira Rose (@theshirarose)
Shira Rose is a licensed clinical social worker, eating disorder therapist and body positive style blogger. Her posts cover topics including eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction using a weight-inclusive Health at Every Size philosophy.
Rose’s post often focus on eradicating weight stigma, education about eating disorder recovery, and the harm caused by the diet industry, while teaching the next generation that diverse body sizes are a normal part of life.
Post like this hit the message home: “If I never hear “ignore the fatphobia! Just love yourself!” again, that would be amazing. Self-love doesn’t help me fit on an airplane, it doesn’t give me safe medical care, it doesn’t help me live in a world where fat people are treated as inferior.”
Dietitian Anna (@DietitianAnna)
Anna Sweeney is a certified eating disorder dietitian, certified Intuitive Eating specialist and owner of Whole Life Nutrition Counseling. She strives to help her followers make peace with food, natural weight and body image.
Anna proudly identifies herself as a disabled woman and her Instagram posts talk about chronic illness vs. wellness and how to navigate these spaces. She reminds followers to practice self-care, and that eating is part of the equation.
Sweeney promotes body-confidence, and encourages readers to “write your body a love letter” and tell yourself “I hear you. I am listening. I love you. I am trying.” Find these and other beautiful sentiments on her welcoming, supportive and inclusive feed.
Fierce Fatty (@fierce.fatty)
Vinny Welsby is a non-binary, fat-positive influencer who helps people unlearn anti-fat bias. They are the author of Fierce Fatty: Love Your Body and Live Like The Queen You Already Are.
Their posts cover the harms of diet culture and the lies sold to consumer by the diet/wellness industry, and remind readers that there are no studies that intentional weight loss improves health. They promote body positivity and self-acceptance, and educate readers on how to protect themselves from fatphobia.
Ryan Sheldon (@realryansheldon)
Ryan Sheldon is a model and an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. He shares posts that talks about his own struggle with binge eating disorder, and promotes body neutrality.
In one hot take, Sheldon debunks videos about “getting a hot body” with his post that says “Livin’ a hot boy summer just the way that I am, all my “imperfections” and all. If you’re tired of others telling you what “imperfect” about your body, can I get an amen.”
As one of few men who talk openly about body image, this account is a must-follow to add the male perspective on the crushing effects of diet culture and the weight loss industry.
Ragen Chastain (@ragenchastain)
Ragen Chastain is an activist, professional speaker, writer, ACE-certified health coach and athlete. She is the author of Fat: The Owner’s Manual and co-author of Love It!: 234 Inspirations and Activities to Help You Love Your Body.
Chastain’s posts talk about the harms of weight bias, and she works to promote size acceptance and weight-neutral health care. She shares evidence-based information about why diets don’t work, and how the diet industry treats fat bodies for profit.
Her posts make you think, make you question the status quo, and hopefully empower you to take action against weight bias.
Alissa Rumsey (@alissarumseyrd)
Alissa Rumsey is a weight-inclusive dietitian and the author of Unapologetic Eating. Her posts focus on nutrition through an anti-diet lens, and help her followers reject diet culture and learn to enjoy food without guilt.
Her educational posts will help you navigate things handling ‘diet talk’ during the holiday season; learning to love photos of yourself; and understanding emotional eating.
Rumsey writes that anti-fat bias is baked into our culture and healthcare system, and reminds followers that “experiencing weight stigma has MORE of an effect on health outcomes than what we eat.”
The Anti-Diet Plan (@theantidietplan)
Alexis Conason Psy.D. is a New York City-based psychologist, certified eating disorder specialist and Author of The Diet Free Revolution.
Her inspiring Instagram posts combat fat phobia, promote body positivity and help followers learn to shut down diet talk.
Follow her page for more messages such as “So much of what we think we know about “healthy eating” has been taught to us by brands trying to profit from our insecurities. Learning how to tune inwards and listen to our bodies is hard work but so incredibly worth it!”
Ilya Parker (@decolonizing_fitness)
Ilya Parker is a Physical Therapist Assistant and ACE-Certified Medical Exercise Specialist who works in rehabilitative and functional training. As a non-binary trans masculine person, Parker posts about unlearning the toxic culture of the fitness world.
Parker says that the biggest message he wants to convey with his work is “we can reconnect to our bodies from a place of healing through purposeful movement.”
To that end, his motivating posts unpacking systemic oppression in the fitness industry and offer training tips for all bodies.
The Nutrition Tea (@thenutritiontea)
Shana Minei Spence is a dietitian who spills the (nutrition) tea on the Health at Every Size approach to wellness.
She shares nutrition truths and highlights the hypocrisy of the wellness industry, who on one hand encourage consumers to eat whole foods, and on the other hand make shelf-stable ultra-processed foods.
Follow her page for insightful information that reminds readers about the harms of diet culture, and that toned abs are not a measure of health. Spence brings optimism and joy back into eating and physical fitness.
A Word From Verywell
Take steps towards improving self-esteem by unfollowing influencers who post highly-curated, unrealistic snaps of their idyllic life. Replace the posts that make you feel bad about yourself with posts that help build your self-esteem. Start by following these 12 body positive Instagram influencers.
If diet culture is well-ingrained in your life and you need additional help dismantling the toxicity of the fitness and weight loss industry, reach out to a dietitian or therapist who specialized in disordered or intuitive eating.