The body diversity movement has been a hot topic for over a decade now, and it is gaining even more traction with a new generation of social media users.

Since the dawn of the fashion and beauty markets, women have felt unrepresented by the models chosen to showcase the clothes they are meant to wear and the products they are meant to use. However, it wasn’t really until the launch of Dove’s game-changing Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 that many began feeling okay with publically expressing what has always been said (after a few wines) behind closed doors: I feel excluded and pressured. I am not 6’ tall, I do not wear a size 4, I do not have perfect golden skin, I am not eighteen years old anymore.

The Real Beauty campaign put regular women out there, wobbly bits, wrinkles and all; on billboards and on TV. It expressed that ‘real beauty’ was in every size, shape, colour and age; and in turn that their products weren’t designed for models only, they were for everyone. Women everywhere jumped for joy, metaphorically, and also we expect literally. Anti-wrinkle creams for people that have wrinkles! Self-tan for people that don’t spend 40 weeks a year at a tropical resort!

The body diversity movement has blazed forward since then, and no other social media platform has added to the fire like Instagram.

On the surface Instagram is all about beauty - pictures of sunsets in tropical places, food from restaurants you can’t afford, and outfits that you definitely can’t afford. Instagram models make a living simply from living a covetable life of green smoothies, designer monokinis and thigh gaps.  However, a subculture of users have broken out against the norm, and have chosen to embrace beauty of all kinds.

Iskra Lawrence, a British model who is currently the global Role Model for American Eagle’s lingerie brand Aerie, has taken to Instagram to spread her body-positive message. She’s shut down trolls for body-shaming, spoken out against retouching (in a world of Photoshop and filters), and exposed the myth of the thigh gap.

Iskra has also been part of the All Woman Project, which you might have seen us tweeting about earlier in the week. The All Woman Project is built on the idea that size or colour shouldn’t define your femininity; it’s your strength and character that make you who you are. Their photo project has been a huge deal, featuring in the media across the globe, and spawning #iamallwoman, encouraging every women to share and celebrate their own beauty across the social media-verse.

#iamallwoman has joined the chorus of other body diversity movements on Instagram - #flauntyourflaws, #honormycurves, #projectheal, #healthyisthenewskinny, #eatthecake, and hundreds more, all fighting back against what is perhaps the exclusionary nature of social media.

And even some Instagram models are jumping on board, after Essena O’Neill’s dramatic departure from the network last year. Essena, after becoming a successful Instagram model with over 500,000 followers, quit the social network by deleting most of her photos, and re-captioning the existing ones to indicate what was going on behind the scenes. She exposed her seemingly idyllic life for a world of social pressures to get the perfect photo, and in the process encouraged others to follow suit with their own ‘honest captions’.

By revealing their lives weren’t as perfect as they seemed on the surface, and confirming that no one ‘just wakes up like this’, it created a more realistic, approachable view of a superficial reality. However, as a result of this new approach, thousands of followers were lost from their social accounts - a worrying fact and clearly not to everyone’s approval.

A recent campaign for Lena Dunham took this approach, using unedited photography with the intention of subverting female objectification (as well as selling product, of course). A very styled, beautiful result, in every way. But what remains to be seen is whether these campaigns really do have true intentions, or whether they are infact using this still relatively ‘novel’ approach to achieve cut through.

For the team at Rally, the body diversity movement promotes one thing: self confidence. Superficial fixation remains the norm, because it’s been self perpetuating for so long, but with a segment of the market challenging the definition of ‘beauty’, we hope to see more campaigns channeling and promoting real confidence in consumers, rather than an unachievable, supposedly aspirational (and we believe outdated) view of reality.