Within the social media bounds of the platform Instagram, it seems that the body positivity movement has found a place of community, as the production of body positive centered images has become ever more prevalent (Cohen et al., 2020). Within this the place of the fashion influencer is of interest as in this online media landscape, the persuasive abilities of the content creator could provide a movement presenting a new definition of what is considered “the fashionable ideal” (Perthuis & Findlay, 2019, p.226). This is placed in the context of the continuous representation of the thin ideal (Cohen et al., 2019) within traditional fashion media, as well as on social media. Thus, for this research it will be looked at how fashion influencers take part in the body positivity movement through posting content on Instagram. Furthermore, it will especially be looked at how the fashion influencers convey themselves as authentic whilst taking part in the body positivity movement. For this research to be able to answer the research question, it was decided to use the method of qualitative content analysis, as this will aid in obtaining a deeper understanding of fashion influencers’ participation in the body positivity movement (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). Then, to obtain the sample for this research, it was chosen to use purposive sampling. This resulted in a dataset of 150 Instagram posts, each containing thirty Instagram posts from five different fashion influencers situated in the body positivity community. This data was further complemented by textual data of four in-depth interviews, conducted with fashion content creators in the field of the body-positivity community. Lastly, a thematic analysis was conducted using a combination of a deductive and inductive approach, allowing for it to be reflective of the influencer’s aims behind the creation of the content as well as being placed within important previous theory concerning the subject (Duffy & Kang, 2019). From the analyses three main themes were found that guide the answering of the research question, these were: The body positive sisterhood, expressing the body positive persona, and a redefining of beauty ideals. These were then further contextualized through two themes exclusively found from the analyses of the interview data, these being: facing cultural norms & struggles of the fashion industry and the hidden labors of the Instagram influencers. With these themes, it was then concluded that the fashion influencers take part in the body positivity movement through conveying a genuine balance of their inspirational expertise and their ability of seeming relatable to their audience. From this they not only convey an aspirational value in their content, they as well built on their ever important persuasiveness. This was seen to be accomplished by the influencers as they conveyed their credible expertise, and portrayed a transparent display of their authentic persona, strengthening this through a community creation that heightens the sense of similarity (Dekavalla, 2019).

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Dr. Sylvia Maria Holla
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Marit Puck Haven. (2022, June 27). Creating new ideals, fashion influencers and their portrayal of body positivity. Exploring the intrinsic motivations of the female fashion content creator. Media & Business. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/64978