How Social Media Has Shaped My Feminist Identity
At the age of 13, I discovered feminism. Like so many other girls, I found the movement on Tumblr — a platform that has gained a reputation for fostering radical views about equality and tolerance. Tumblr offered me a new world of opportunity and helped me realize I could demand more at a time when I felt particularly vulnerable.
My feminist community on Tumblr became a lifeline in what I found to be an often damaging social media landscape. Harmful ideals and expectations of beauty and femininity were shoved down my throat on Facebook, and the Internet in general often felt like it was full of criticism. It was all too easy to vulnerably compare myself to the inundation of idealized, carefully curated images and posts — from celebrities on Instagram to the statuses and pages created by girls in my own life — that constantly filled my feeds.
This experience was at odds with what I believe is the key to allowing young women to craft their identities: vulnerability. I think anyone must be prepared to bare all and wear their hearts on their sleeves in order to express themselves. But doing so in such a hypercritical world, in the context of social media that preys on girls who demonstrate anything that can be interpreted as weakness, is challenging. In fact, if I hadn't found my footing online when I was 13, if I hadn't found a community of people who were also unhappy with a mainstream social media landscape that treated undermining and criticizing young girls as the norm, I think I'd be lost right now and without a solid identity.
But I did find a feminist community that affirmed that I didn’t have to accept the beauty standards placed upon me as an awkward teen who, brown and a bit chubby, felt so, so, so out of my depth. I learned that my self-worth didn't have to (and shouldn't) depend on everybody liking me. I realized I didn’t have to keep silent and sit daintily in order to appear pretty and feminine, although doing so had once been very important to me. I found I could, in fact, be angry that I had valued these things — that I had been taught to prioritize my appearance above everything else.
But while I was thankful to have found this identity, for a long time I longed for an outlet to create something to express it. At 15, I found that outlet: I discovered School of Doodle, which, although it was still in its early stages, was a platform that sought to create a safe space for young girls to express their creative identities and connect with others. Most importantly, it was entirely founded and created on the wishes and ideas of teenage girls. I contacted the founder and soon became one of them.
Had I not gone on this journey — starting with Tumblr and leading to my role as an international female ambassador for Doodle — I couldn't have personally grown or help create a community that brings teen girls across the world out of their shells and encourage their own processes of self-determination. Social media helped me stand up and use my voice — a voice I now use to loudly speak up about feminism, and hopefully inspire other girls around me.
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