It’s no secret that social media and the images we see online have a huge impact on our mental health and perception of body image. Over the past decade, there has been a rise in consumers pushing to see more inclusive imagery, both in social media and across industries such as fashion and fitness. Reebok recently performed a study to determine how body inclusive major countries are in an effort to shed light on the state of representation online and in the media today.
In order to determine body inclusivity by country, Reebok analysed the number of monthly Google searches for body inclusive terms and the number of news articles on body inclusivity in the past year. Some of the most heavily searched terms around the globe by month include “plus-size” at over 18 million searches, “body-positive” at over 14 million searches, and “body confidence” at 1 million searches. When you drill down by country, the results showed the UK leading in online body positivity, followed by the USA, Ireland, Australia, and Canada. Canada in particular had over 33,000 searches for body positive terms and approximately 1,600 news articles including these terms in the past year. These terms are a strong indicator of what people want to see online, not only in their social feeds but from brands and influencers as well.
Our Changing Culture
The drive from consumers around the globe to see more body inclusive imagery has an impact across social media, including the fitness and fashion industries. With 14 million searches around the term body positivity, brands have to change to meet the demand of what consumers want to see, or they risk becoming irrelevant. When looking at the fashion industry, over half of the models in London are considered to be diverse men and women. It’s likely that online searches in the UK are a large driver of the change that we end up seeing in the industry.
This shift can also be seen on instagram with fitness influencers. Right now, there are over 14.5 million posts promoting the “body positivity” hashtag on Instagram. Reebok’s study showed the UK to have the most inclusive fitness influencers, with 8.37% of posts from top fitness influencers highlighting body positivity. When fitness influencing began, the goal was often to post images of an ideal body, pushing the trend of “perfection social media”. In recent years, with trends shifting toward body inclusivity, we’ve seen the rise of “real” influencers, with people showing their actual bodies, imperfections included. Consumers are looking to see themselves reflected in the content they consume online, and know that these lifestyles, or fitness programs, are attainable and possible for them. Unrealistic body standards alienate consumers. In order to engage followers and grow businesses, it’s critical for fitness influencers to show their “real” side, and demonstrate how fitness is accessible and made for all body types – because it is.
Ultimately, the body positivity movement has gained tremendous traction over the past decade due to the boom of social media platforms and passionate influencers, which has influenced the rise of body inclusive brands. Body inclusivity online is critical to creating a more accepting world, and normalizing all body types, rather than unattainable standards that used to dominate online. Reebok’s study is one step toward shedding light on body inclusivity trends online, which influence what we see in the real world. As body inclusivity continues to trend with consumers, we’ll continue to see changes with online imagery and brands, making the world a more body inclusive place, one post at a time.