Body positive influencers to follow as Zara McDermott opens up on disordered eating

In 2022, Love Island star, Zara McDermott released a documentary where she shared her own experiences, shining a light on the hidden traumas facing so many young women. Disordered Eating is part of a series that also covered rape culture and revenge porn.

In the documentary, Zara explored the reasons behind record numbers of young people being treated for eating disorders. She set out to discover how far social media influencers, like her, might be part of the problem.

Revealing her personal struggles, she talks about how her diet and fitness journey lead to her obsessing about the way she looked- posting before and after pics and “what I eat in a day” content. It was when she began to receive messages from young girls asking for weight loss tips that she realised the effect her content was having on other people's self-confidence and self-perception.

The documentary takes a deep dive into disordered eating and the impact social media can have on young people’s mental health. Posing the question, is she unwittingly encouraging unhealthy attitudes to food and weight loss in her followers?

But whilst it's easy to focus on the negative influence that social media creators can have on impressional minds – there are influencers out there who want to show that there's a different way. A body positive way.

Here are some we wanted to shed a light on:

Alex Light

Alex Light (Alexlight_ldn) has overcome various eating disorders and speaks often about her recovery. She hosts the podcast Should I Delete That and is the author of Sunday Times Bestseller You Are Not a Before Picture, which talks about the toxicity of diet culture and the importance of making peace with our bodies.

Alex has an impressive 524,000 followers on Instagram where she talks about her eating disorder recovery, and fashion and beauty. With 2.5million likes on TikTok, she also boasts a not insignificant 48,500 followers on the platform.

Find out more about Alex and her journey here.

Carys Whittaker

Carys Whittaker (carys.whittaker) is a vlogger and influencer who started out sharing all things fitness. Now, she chats often about body positivity and how her weight gain is something she embraces.

She’s also super real about all things pregnancy and post-partum body, which is refreshing and more importantly, very empowering.

With over 838,000 followers on Instagram and 203,200 on TikTok, mum-of-two Carys' honesty is a big hit with her fans.

Stephanie Yeboah

Stephanie Yeboah is another influencer who is open about her struggles with body positivity, whilst simultaneously reminding us of the importance of working to accept ourselves, even though, as she acknowledges, it’s definitely not easy.

She just so happens to be an absolute fashion icon too, so if wardrobe inspo is also something you’re in need of, check her out.

Lexie and Lindsay Kite

Lexie and Lindsay Kite are identical twins and co- authors of the book “More than a body: Your body is an instrument, not an ornament.”

They both have PHD’s in the study of female body image, and work hard to promote body image resilience. Numerous books and studies have cited the twins' original research and the pair have been featured in everything from The New York Times to Teen Vogue.

Sophie Butler

Sophie Butler uses her platform to educate on everything from self-love to disability awareness. In 2021, she won Cosmo’s “Influencer of the Year” award. A gym accident in 2017 means Sophie is now paralysed from the waist down- but now she works hard to show that wellness looks different on everybody.

If you or someone you know needs support regarding eating disorders, the BEAT helpline is available 365 days a year, and many more resources are available on the website here.

It doesn't go amiss that these influencers are working hard to fix the problems that social media helped create in the first place, so it can’t be denied that social media does have it’s good sides- and they do deserve to be celebrated.

You can watch Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating is on BBC iPlayer.


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