Valflickans body positive revolution
''I won’t be happier if I can fit into a certain size, but I will be happier if I dare to apply for that dream job, if I flirt with that dreamy person or if I just eat that delicious 'semla' with zero anxiety and without having to excuse myself while eating it.'' These are the words of Christina Lövgren, founder of the instagram account Valflickan. Through her platform she strives to be an influential game-player in the body positivity movement. She means there is work to be done and that much education is still needed, and we can all be part of it!
There is no denying that social media has this nearly invisible but powerful grip on how we, as humans and individuals, behave and interact within the society. It had opened opportunities, bridged different communication gaps and allowed each and everyone to express themselves in ways that previously had no room in the society. Use any type of social media, from Instagram to TikTok, and one will find unlimited personalities trying to contribute and change the game in terms of inclusivity and diversity, and in aspects such as new gender roles and identities, breaking down old-fashioned social norms and positive body image. The options are endless.
– Everyone has the right to exist and everyone has the right to do what they want with their own body. I think it is very important that everyone knows that we all are different and there is nothing wrong with that.
This is what Christina Lövgren, the owner of the Instagram account @valflickan, expressed with firmness and conviction when asked about her views on diversity in social media.
– It is important to show that one doesn't have to be a certain way or look a certain way in order to succeed in life.
Yes, Christina is an advocate for body acceptance. Call it whatever you want: fat activism, size inclusivity, positive self-image, body love, plus-size campaign or body positivity. This movement is not asking the society to include them in the pre-conceived notion of how a perfect individual should look like. This movement is calling for everyone to have a positive awareness that there is, in reality, beauty in diversity.
Christina perhaps may not consider herself a game-changer but definitely a influential game-player in the body positivity movement. Her instagram account, with over 3,000 followers to date, has a very catchy tagline: Half Whale. Half Girl. Fighting for everyBody. On the surface her own photos are quite catchy since they are very aesthetically pleasing: a balanced symmetry of colors in her outfit of the day with the stunning background of Norrland. (Writer's note: To be honest, I was first drawn to her account because of her she effortlessly pull-off plus size fashion). But as you scroll down her feed, there is more to it than meets the eye. Christina wants you to know that there is a revolution to fight and that battle is about body acceptance.
– My ambition with my present Instagram Valflickan is to help others overcome their insecurities and realizing that life is NOW. I don’t want to remember my life as a long diet. I want to enjoy life to the fullest and embrace the time I got. We should live our best lives now. I won’t be happier if I can fit into a certain size, but I will be happier if I dare to apply for that dream job, if I flirt with that dreamy person, if I embark on that travel or if I just eat that delicious 'semla' with zero anxiety and without having to excuse myself while eating it, Christina stated during the interview.
– Not everyone wants to be thin. Using the word Fat is taking the power back that the word Fat is not discriminatory. It is a word that just describes something.
''Not everyone wants to be thin. Using the word Fat is taking the power back that the word Fat is not discriminatory. It is a word that just describes something.'' says Christina. Foto: Privat
She first discovered the body acceptance movement in various blogs and Facebook groups nearly a decade ago. It was an awakening.
– EVERY body is a good body and this is something that should be natural for everyone. It made life so much easier, finding confidence in who I was and how I looked, she chimed.
She also discovered like-minded individuals and together they created the now-defunct blog called Fatshionistas an online magazine called FETT magazine and a Facebook group called Fatshionchatten which is geared towards the body acceptance movement.
Christina also stressed the importance of surrounding youself with people who doesn't make you feel less about yourself.
– I think the turning point was to hang out in places and groups with one strict rule: You are not allowed to talk about your body in a negative way. I wasn’t allowed to discuss diets or to mention how much I hated that part of my body. It was mind-blowing, freeing and wonderful. I have the same rule in my home and in my sphere nowadays.
Even before its rise in social media, the body positivity movement had already started in the late 1960s. According to a historical summary article written by BBC entitled From New York to Instagram: The history of the body positivity movement the awareness, started when Bill Fabrey, an engineer in New York, started handing out materials on how heavy individuals were unfairly treated in the society. This was triggered after witnessing how his wife is judged because of her weight. Eventually, Fabrey and other individuals who supported his cause created the group currently known as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.
The movement subsequently started to gain a foothold all-over USA and across the world that tackled issues focused on body marginalization, stereotyping, diets, weight discrimination, and other related subjects.
I think bullies in social media get too much attention. The best way to deal with them is to delete their comments to stop any discussion about my body because my body is not open for discussion.
Different people have also different views on body acceptence. For some, it is about body size inclusivity in every aspect in the society. For others, it is about being able to wear whatever you want. For Christina, it is how everyone needs to work actively in accepting and loving your own body.
– The significance of achieving a positive body image is major for quality of life. I have challenged myself in so many more ways since the day I stopped hating my body and it’s so much easier to see possibilities and be confident.
However, one of the downsides of the influence of social media is that some people tend to create a hostile environment through criticism and bullying. Furthermore, there exist individuals who have strong negative opinions against body positivity and there are also individuals who lack, perhaps, the sensivity when talking about issues related to body image. Christina is not entirely new to this. According to her, she follows a very strict rule that offensive comments have no room in her Instagram account. She constantly checks and deletes mean comments, and blocks the account owners.
– I think bullies in social media get too much attention. The best way to deal with them is to delete their comments to stop any discussion about my body because my body is not open for discussion.
Christina in one of her 'outfit of the day'. Foto: Privat
It’s always wise to take a step back and listen when you don’t understand how it feels to be discriminated or held back because of your appearance, your culture, your sexuality or something else.
She had also mentioned that there had been occasions when she questioned people (may it be at the workplace or online forums) about the need to discuss weight loss.
– It doesn’t only affect me that wants to live in a world without body shaming but it also affects people in that room that might be fighting against an eating disorder. Sadly, people feel the need to talk only about the weather or how much weight they want to lose like it’s the only two common denominators that unite everyone.”
Fortunately, Christina has found body positive allies here in Gällivare among her workplace colleagues and friends. She gladly reminisced an instance when a colleague baked a cake with the quote Kom igen, lev lite (translation 'Come on, live a little').
– It just prevented all the talk about how sweet the cake is, how unhealthy it is or that we need to run after eating it. I loved that! Small actions like that makes it visible how much we stigmatize food and bodies.
Raised in Fällträsk just outside of Luleå and Christina now works as as a logistics engineer for LKAB since 2017. She previously spent ten years in Kiruna in the quality department of LKAB after completing her master's degree in space physics.
Christina now lives in Koskullskulle with her partner Niclas and their dog Dolla, and considers Gällivare her second home.
– I like Gällivare and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people here, she said.
''It’s possible to build knowledge and create understanding fairly quickly if you put your mind to it'' Christina says. Foto: Privat
Despite this, she still believes that the community is still facing challenges in terms of body positivity and diversity. Educating and creating awareness are two ways to open venues towards the body acceptance movement. Additionally, she also believes that body positivity is a crucial topic that should be discussed as early as possible in schools.
– Hiring inspirational body positive advocates to work with groups at schools is important. We need adults to resonate a body positive message to every child. This includes parents, relatives, teachers, school nurses and doctors. Remember that simple actions can greatly impact a child’s mindset. A perfect start is to never talk negatively about your own body in front of children (frankly you shouldn’t do it in front of anyone, none of us wants or needs to hear it and it doesn’t do you any good either). I also think all adults should try to include everyone in a better way. In school, teachers could have several sport activities so everyone can feel comfortable doing sports. School nurses could tell your children that every body is a good body instead of telling the number on the scale, she explained with passion.
– So much information is available online, especially on different blogs and on social media accounts. It’s possible to build knowledge and create understanding fairly quickly if you put your mind to it, Christina added.
– It’s always wise to take a step back and listen when you don’t understand how it feels to be discriminated or held back because of your appearance, your culture, your sexuality or something else. There is work to be done and much education is still needed.
Text & Bild
26 maj 2021
Christina's suggestions on how to become more aware and take part in the body acceptance movement:
1) Never talk in a negative way about your body or someone else’s body
2) Start following people who talk about this subject on Instagram or other social networks
3) Become an ally, share body positive accounts on your social media
4) Proactively change topic and say 'can we talk about something else' when body negative discussions start at work or some social event
5) Question your stereotypes and don’t assume things about someone you meet.