By: Lauren Moore
Aside from an outlet to share your most recent “Throwback Thursday” or “Women Crush Wednesday,” social media has evolved into an efficient means to spread awareness for a myriad of causes ranging from body positivity to fighting for equality. As activism through social media has become more popular, St. Mary’s students have taken full advantage of these platforms to advocate for causes they feel most passionate about.
Last year, eighth grader at the time, Celia Stem (9) had the idea to create the blog, Embrace Your Face, because, she says, “I was so insecure about how I acted and what I looked like. I figured there were a lot of other girls struggling with the same problems as me, so I made an Instagram account, got some friends together, and we started writing and posting.”
Embrace Your Face began as a mere Instagram account, but has evolved into a full fledged online platform with its primary goal to “encourage girls to love, accept, and embrace themselves in a world that tells them to do otherwise.” One of the now multiple writers, Kate Stukenborg (9) became immediately involved, because, she explains “I was so drawn to the idea of being able to share my experiences and thoughts and be able to learn from others.” Celia then moved her message outside of her immediate circle of friends by “using Instagram, Twitter, and other kinds of social media” since it “is the easiest way to talk to people and get through to them. This is the best way to reach out to girls and spread our message in a quick and efficient way.”
Sharing many of Celia’s own experiences with social media, Hannah Mathews (11) explains that with “social media, there is this growing need to project a feeling that we’re perfect, or that we are not going through real struggles.” Mathews goes on to say that, due to these feelings, she felt that her “own way of trying to take on the social media stigma was to join the movement.”
She did so by getting involved in the Half the Story movement, a hashtag circulating Instagram that encourages people to share the real, imperfect, and often shielded aspects of their lives. As a result, Hannah discovered different organizations and movements and was even asked to write an article for the up and coming organization EBMatters, or “Every Body Matters,” which works to promote positive body image in today’s society.
Still, the instantaneous impact social media holds is not limited to the promoting of positivity, but it can also be used to make a statement. Jean Jackson (12) recently utilized Instagram and Facebook as a means to share her own experiences at the Memphis Women’s March. In the past, she participated in and posted about other things like embracing her culture and speaking up about “learning to accept instead of isolate those with diverse abilities” by sharing her work at Camp Able.
Jean says, “I feel strongly about black beauty and black hair,” which she has demonstrated through her use of the hashtag “Black Out Day,” a day dedicated to the recognition of black culture. Additionally, she has shared an image of herself wearing a dashiki, a loose, brightly colored shirt or tunic, originally from West Africa, with the caption “embracing that African heritage.” Jean says that social media makes it “easier to make change and influence other people because you can reach so many different people” In response, Sabrina Spence (11) said “I love how Jean's not afraid to embrace her black girl magic and how her message has inspired me to be that bold and comfortable with myself.”