Feminism surfaces by way of social media in vastly different ways. As it has for many other forms of activism, social media has brought feminism directly to everybody’s screens. The Women’s March on Washington was a monumental event, drawing around 500,000 people to march for human rights and other issues, including women's rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers' rights. This march expanded and 404 other marches throughout the US occurred to peacefully protest for the same cause. Aditionally, 168 international marches occurred in 81 countries. Feminism and pride took the world by storm. Social media was able to amplify these turnouts even more. Due to platforms like snapchat, Instagram, twitter and facebook, a virtual march was available for all those who did not attend. By live streaming and updating via social media, awareness of activism was spread instantaneously and the rest of the world was able to experience a big day for women everywhere.
Struggle with body image is something that has been seen as a result of a multitude of factors, predominantly an unrealistic beauty standard that is constantly presented as an overwhelmingly central component of US culture. As social media has taken over and entered into our everyday lives not only all around us but also at our fingertips, more and more platforms are available for posting photos with the hopes of looking perfect and achieving maximum praise. However, in a society that already had too much focus on appearance and weight, this problem has only perpetuated. Models, who now also appear on platforms such as Instagram, twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, are a part of our feed. Women in particular are constantly being reminded of a hard and fast and potentially unhealthy beauty standard.
Along with the negativity that social media can induce particularly pertaining to women’s body images, unrealistic body standards, and retouching, comes the counter to that. A movement to bring back the natural woman and all that she is has blown up social media platforms and become an international phenomenon. Companies such as Dove and Aerie have launched campaigns such as #AerieREAL which is presented in this photo which work to reverse the detriment that photoshop, retouching, and body image disorders has done to the women of our generation. Aerie announced that the ads are “challenging supermodel standards by featuring unretouched models in their latest collection of bras, undies and apparel.” In this photo, women pose in Aerie lingerie completely naturally and untouched, with the hopes to portray the message that real is beautiful.
Feminism in social media goes way beyond the craze of Snapchat and Instagram. Although our definition social media is rapidly evolving, feminism has always played a role in the media in a variety of ways. Digital media and advertising has immense power, in that subliminal messages can be so powerful as to interfere with the course of one’s development, particularly at a young age. Disney Princesses, which have been a predominant part of American culture since 1937, have appeared to affect the minds of young girls and contributed to the development of feminine identities. In this article written by a New York times writer and mother of four, she explains the “fear of how the princess narrative influences girls in a culture that often puts more emphasis on how a girl looks and behaves than on how she acts and thinks is nothing new” and that “quantitative research backing up the qualitative argument that Disney, as a primary purveyor of all things princess, is contributing to that influence.”
We know that social media has had a monstrous effect on the lives of everyday people, in both positive and negative ways. It has the power to launch campaigns, connect people across the globe, induces greater rates of cyberbullying, and put issues of body image to question. However, social media holds the power of discussion. People from all over the world are able to connect, comment, like subscribe, post and tweet with each other. Ideas are shared, and topics are discussed and argued. In a new way than ever before, human beings are learning from each other and the idea of the modern feminist is being shaped and molded everyday.