From body positivity campaigners to conservationists, these Instagram profiles are mixing aesthetic with activism.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. And even if many of us only use Instagram to post filtered brunch snaps, there are plenty of others who have transformed their online platforms into exactly that: a virtual stage from which to inspire change.
In line with the International Woman’s Day 2018 theme of #PressForProgress, we’ve rounded up 15 influential female and non-binary activists who’ll bring a daily dose of fighting spirit to your feed.
Scroll our list below for must-follow inspiration…
1. Amber Amour
After Amber Amour was sexually assaulted in a Cape Town hostel in December 2015, her first instinct was to document the aftermath. The then-27-year-old had been in the city to promote her ‘Stop Rape. Educate’ campaign when she was attacked and she felt she couldn’t hide what had happened. So Amour snapped a tearful selfie and proceeded to live-blog the ordeal she’d endured on Instagram.
Since then Amour has started Creating Consent Culture, an international movement that aims to provide modern sexual education to communities and schools – discussing rape culture, sexual violence and healing processes for survivors of assault. She’s become an unflinching figure in the fight to end female abuse and her feed is well worth following.
Follow her: @CreatingConsentCulture
2. Gabby Salazar
An activist with a difference, Gabby Salazar is a conservationist and photographer fighting to raise awareness of delicate eco-systems around the world. Her Instagram account is a waterfall of imagery documenting her travels to areas most of us can only dream of. If anything will incite you to recycle, it’s this photo feed.
Follow her: @gabbyrsalazar
3. Janet Mock
Janet Mock was a successful journalist long before she began her public activism for trans individuals – she edited People magazine for over five years. In 2011, Mock came out as a transwoman and was quickly established as a leading voice of the then-burgeoning trans rights movement.
Since then, she’s become an award-winning pioneer for introducing trans stories to a mainstream audience, as well as a respected cultural critic. Her Instagram is a riot of glamour and galvanism.
Follow her: @janetmock
4. Emma Watson
Say what you want about Emma Watson: the actress not only puts her money where her mouth is, she publicly documents the development of her activism. Watson is one of the founders of the Hollywood Time’s Up movement, a UN ambassador and a constant champion of women’s rights.
Most importantly, she’s someone who shows there’s always room to learn as a feminist – as a recent blog on ‘white feminism’ demonstrated – and that’s only ever a good thing.
Follow her: @emmawatson
5. Sisters Uncut
Described by many as ‘modern suffragettes,’ Sisters Uncut is a collective of women and non-binary individuals fighting for better domestic abuse services for women.
Their name refers to the services that are being systematically ‘cut’ under Theresa May’s welfare reforms: so far they’ve staged protests at the premiere for 2015’s Suffragette, dyed Trafalgar Square’s fountain red and invaded the 2018 BAFTAs red carpet.
Follow them: @sistersuncut
6. Arts Sisterhood UK
Arts Sisterhood UK was founded by Ali Strick after she discovered the dearth of affordable mental health services available to her. Although lucky enough to have therapy paid for by her parents, Strick wanted to create spaces women with less resources would be able to go to for help.
Thus, Arts Sisterhood was born: £3 art therapy classes held across the UK for self-identifying women. The idea is simple, brilliant and necessary.
Follow them: @arts.sisterhood.uk
7. Chidera Eggerue
Chidera Eggerue is a blogger and public speaker who frequently challenges the unfair pressures put on women’s bodies to look a certain way. She shot to mainstream prominence after creating the Saggy Boobs Movement, a campaign that challenged standard depictions of breasts as perky, gravity-defying body parts (spoiler: they’re not).
She’s now preparing for the upcoming July release of her book, billed as a guide to “why you are already enough”.
Follow her: @theslumflower
8. Gurls Talk
The brainchild of top model Adwoa Aboah, Gurls Talk is a campaign that encourages women to open up to each other about mental health and social pressures. The initiative has now branched out into physical festivals across the world with women coming from far and wide to share their stories.
Follow them: @gurlstalk
9. Ruby Allegra, @rvbyallegra
Australian make-up artist Ruby Allegra started their page on Instagram to promote their business in 2013. Since then, Allegra’s growing involvement in the LGBTQ and body positive communities on the platform have catapulted them into activism.
Their account is a frank and fashion-forward representation of life as a disabled individual that aims to bring visibility to an often-overlooked group. Plus, lots of excellent beauty looks.
Follow them: @rvbyallegra
10. Enam Asiama
British-Ghanaian plus-size model Enam Asiama has been making waves recently. A new collaboration with Missguided and shoots for magazines like Slink mean her profile is on the rise. Her page is full of gorgeous imagery celebrating what Asiama calls “fat girl magic” and styling we want to steal.
Follow her: @enamasiama
11. Kuchenga Shenje
Writer and Black Lives Matter activist Kuchenga Shenje specialises in cultural critiques and fighting for trans representation in UK spaces. She’s a regular public speaker and her page is a riot of inspirational people, events and literature.
Follow her: @kunchenga
12. Marley Dias
So young, so driven. Marley Dias was only 11 years old when she launched her 2016 #1000blackgirlbooks campaign to find 1000 books featuring black characters in positive lead roles she could relate to.
Follow her: @marleydias
13. Time’s Up
Born like an avenging Venus from the wave of sexual harassment allegations that rocked Hollywood last year, Time’s Up is a movement that’s already making its mark.
Established by A-Listers like Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes, the campaign so far comprises a $13m defense fund for low-income women fighting harassment in the workplace and has involved high-profile protests, such as a fashion ‘blackout’ of the Golden Globes red carpet. Glitzy? Yes. A turning point? Absolutely.
Follow them: @timesupnow
14. Ash Sarkar
Journalist Ash Sarkar is a prominent voice crusading for the rights of female refugees in Britain. Over the last year she’s become an integral in raising awareness of the plight of women detained in notorious centre Yarl’s Wood, and has written articles shedding light on lost parts of female history. Her Instagram feed is a invigorating mix of face masks and freedom-fighting.
Follow her: @ayocaesar
15. Muslim Women’s Network UK, @muslimwomensnetwork
An independent network that shows feminism and religion can easily be bedfellows, the Muslim Women’s Network connects and amplifies the voices of Muslim women across the UK.
Fighting for equality and an end to the abuse of women, the MWN is a vital organization allowing women often denied a voice to join the conversation.
Follow them: @muslimwomensnetwork
Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of women who’ve made a difference, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.
Main image: iStock