Self-Acceptance Influencer Alex Light Talks Body Positivity and Defining Beauty in Her Own Terms
London-based influencer Alex Light may have started off building her social media platform in a pretty traditional way, but after learning how unhealthy that was making her, she took a sharp left turn.
After struggling for much of her life with various eating disorders, partially driven by the unrealistic beauty standards she was seeing every day, Alex shifted her social media focus from style and beauty toward her personal journey with health and dealing with diet culture and weight stigma. Today, she aims to create a safe space for discussion around negative body image and help others heal with her, and we love the message she's spreading to the world.
She'll also be a speaker at The BodCon TALKS: Beauty & Body Confidencerunning Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. ET. Alex will join other influencers, including Tess Holliday, Boa the Drag Queen, Taj Reed, Aysha Harun, Chenese Lewis, Clarissa Thompson, Lilith Fury and Darius McKiver for a discussion around the intersection between beauty and body confidence. Ahead of the talk, we got the chance to ask Alex all about how she carved that niche for herself, and why that role is so important to her.
Sweety High: What inspired you to become an influencer focused on body confidence and self-acceptance? Where did that journey begin?
Alex Light: I have a really long history with disordered eating, eating disorders and body image. I was an "influencer" anyway, creating fashion and beauty content, but it was only after I was officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa that I decided to open up about my journey online. I was terrified but totally uplifted by the response—I had felt so alone with these struggles my whole life, but once I opened up, I realized this was way more common than I realized and I instantly felt comforted and supported. Once my recovery was really underway, I grew from using Instagram as a means to support myself to a means to supporting others, and to date, I have had conversations with thousands of women across the world about body confidence and self-acceptance.
(Photo credit: Zoe McConnell)
SH: What type of audience do you hope to reach with your content, and what do you hope they learn from it?
AL: Essentially, my aim is to provide the content and safe space that I needed when I thought I was alone and I was seriously struggling. I want to reach the women who have grown up feeling bad about their bodies and who battle each day with body image and/or dieting—as we know, the two tend to come hand in hand! Bad body image has always been such a taboo topic, and I want to contribute towards breaking that stigma so that women feel comfortable to open up about it, have access to resources and seek help.
SH: What do you think are some of the worst messages that many people take away from seeing unrealistic beauty standards every day on social media? How do we fight this, and learn to accept more helpful messages?
AL: I think social media has been really detrimental to young women in many ways—seeing edited and curated images day in, day out, has set a standard of beauty that is not achievable. Because—as one of my favorite quotes goes—even the girl in the photo doesn't look like the girl in the photo: we are comparing ourselves to something that isn't even real. That's why I'm so delighted that countries like Norway are making it a law to declare editing, meaning that people can edit their pictures as they wish, but they have to include a watermark which states that it is edited. I hope this one day becomes worldwide, as I think it will have a hugely positive effect on women who are consuming content on social media. Knowing that the picture is edited immediately helps to prevent the comparison.
SH: How do you defy the pressure to look a certain way, and define beauty in your own terms? Why is it so important for you to be able to help others understand that beauty isn't just defined one way?
AL: I spent pretty much my entire life trying to conform to a certain beauty standard, and look a certain way, and it led me to being treated in hospital for anorexia. Trying to fit the societal standard of beauty did nothing but make me very unhappy and very unhealthy, where fitting my own standard of beauty leaves me so much happier, healthier and with far more time and energy—there is no comparison. But equally important is realizing that society's standard of beauty is totally arbitrary—it's a made-up standard that doesn't actually mean anything. There is beauty in diversity—in every body shape and size. We just have to make our own beauty standards.
I'm invested in helping others understand that beauty isn't just defined one way to prevent anyone from spending the amount of precious time, energy and money that I did on something that, ultimately, just does not matter. Being "thin" didn't make me happy—not at all.
SH: How excited are you to be invited to speak at The BodCon TALKS: Beauty & Body Confidence? What perspective do you hope to bring to the table?
AL: I'm so excited to interview Tess Holliday—she's an incredible, beautiful woman who has pushed back against typical beauty standards without apology and she's one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. I cannot wait to really delve into lots of thought-provoking body confidence topics with her.
Love Alex's message? You can also click HERE to read our interview with Aysha Harun, another inspiring influencer speaking at The BodCon TALKS.