Social Media Activism Helps Women Reclaim Their Bodies

Social media activism can be done anywhere.

You might not think that a social media platform would be the place where women go to reclaim their bodies. But that’s just what the following women did.

Mashable recently published a great article detailing the stories of three women who harnessed the power of social media activism to claim their identity by discussing their bodies. Each woman’s story is incredibly moving but totally different:

Burlesque used to be illegal in Singapore. That fact just wasn’t acceptable to Sukki Singapora. Singapora started researching the art of strip tease and burlesque in 2011, before burlesque was legal in Singapore. She taught herself the art by researching other burlesque performers’ social media accounts, and garnered support by starting a private Facebook group. Through the years, she connected with other women who were interested in burlesque and began to teach burlesque classes. (At the time, she claimed the classes were for yoga to protect her and her students from the government.) After a lot of work and real life and social media activism, she (with the help of others) was able to persuade the country’s government to make burlesque legal. She performed her first legit show in January of this year.

Masih Alinejad also used social media to connect with women similar to her, reports Mashable:

“Upset by how her Facebook newsfeed was “full of news and pictures of suffering” in Iran, Alinejad uploaded a photo of herself — without a traditional headscarf, or hijab — dancing beneath blossoming trees in London. Appearing in public without a hijab in Iran is a punishable offense.”

She first received a ton of positive feedback from women who posted “wishful comments” saying that one day they hoped to be able to remove their scarves in public, too. As a response, she posted a second photo of herself without her hijab. Again, she received more positive comments. So, to create a space where women could share photos of going scarf-free, she created the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom. The page “serves as a visual catalogue of women defying their country’s law and custom,” Mashable reports.

The third woman Mashable reported on was Sara Bartosiewicz-Hamilton. Years ago, she had a preventative double mastectomy to prevent cancer (she has the BRCA gene mutation, which can increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer). While she did get reconstructive surgery, she didn’t like the results. So, she decided to get her implants removed. After her surgery, she sought advice from women who had been through a similar experience — she wanted to know how to wear clothing without breasts. But that conversation was harder to have than she thought, as most conversations discussed reconstruction. So, she decided to start the conversation by beginning the private Facebook page Flat & Fabulous. The page’s goal is to spread the word that “beauty does not live and die by the breast,” Mashable reports.

All of the above stories are important and interesting. And I get it. Social media activism is real. Personal Internet accounts allow everyone a platform (for good or bad — we know it’s complicated) to connect with people who have similar mindsets. I know that I love Instagram and Twitter. Those accounts allow me to connect with people who adore feminism and horror films.

What do you think about the above women’s stories? Do you use social media to connect with like-minded women? Have you ever engaged in social media activism?

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Image: Linh Do

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy! Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.