This Woman’s Selfie Accidentally Launched One of the Internet’s Biggest Body-Positive Movements
Every Body celebrates inclusivity and the representation of human beings in every shape and form.
As major fashion chains like Joe Fresh continue to (finally) offer extended-sizing options, it’s clear the world is becoming increasingly inclusive of every type of body. But it’s important to remember that body positivity isn’t just about clothes: It’s about realizing, as yoga star Jessamyn Stanley recently told us, that all human bodies are just the way they should be. The #DontHateTheShake hashtag is an Instagram movement that shares this message and, two years after it was started, it’s more popular than ever.
The hashtag was started by Melissa Gibson, who at the time was completing a Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Louisville, KY. It started by accident, when Gibson posted a simple Instagram video of herself shaking her stuff with the hashtag #donthatetheshake. Before she knew it, she’d started a viral trend.
Now, the hashtag has almost 8,000 tagged posts and Don’t Hate the Shake even has its own IG account with almost 26k followers — and it’s growing by the day.
“I absolutely love the community and support around Don’t Hate the Shake and get so excited when other people love on it too,” Gibson tells B+C in an email.
Her excitement shows. Now gearing up to start law school, Gibson says that she’ll keep “living out my fat and fabulous life” on her own 200k-follower account, as well as hopefully delve into making Youtube videos and a podcast, as she continues to make space for conversations about body oppression and marginalization.
We asked Gibson a few questions about Don’t Hate the Shake and she got real about moving your body and not turning a movement into a “trending” topic.
B+C: #DontHateTheShake has been going strong for two years now. Why do you think it has resonated so much with people?
MG: Because it’s real. Because it’s fun. Because it celebrates our bodies for everything they are and shows that beauty is movement and living life.
B+C: How have you seen the body positivity community change since you first started the hashtag?
MG: I think body positivity has become less of a conversation and community of support, and more about an individual exclamation of validation — I think there has been a focus on comparison instead of people just sharing how they live their lives in their amazing bodies. It’s become a place where people try to “trend” instead of recognizing that there are so many people in the community who will never “trend” because, no matter what, their bodies come with a list of stereotypes and assumptions and are inherently devalued and dehumanized.
Body positivity is about fighting against that, but instead, it’s often just become a place of expression of self-love. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but it’s not a radical celebration of bodies simply living their lives how they currently are, demanding to be seen and respected and to own the space they take up. Don’t Hate the Shake is unapologetically about living now, without shame, and showing the world our glorious bodies having fun.
B+C: How do you hope to continue to engage the community and progress conversations in your work going forward?
MG: I hope to keep contributing to the conversation, to foster it, to create space for all voices to be heard. I hope to keep celebrating every person that has a marginalized body in their expression of their very real and nuanced life. I hope that both my own page and Don’t Hate the Shake continue to be places where people see both the beauty in others and that that informs the way that they see themselves.
We get to ask hard questions here. We get to question our own assumptions or the assumptions in society that have burdened us and, in many ways, we get to work through the lies we have been told that make us hate our bodies. That’s pretty exciting and liberating because, honestly, in my experience, once you start questioning these things, you begin to see how silly it is that we have ever felt like we couldn’t move and experience our bodies in any way we ever wanted. Body positivity is a celebration of courage, bravery, beauty, uniqueness, and what our body does for us.
What does body positivity mean to you? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via @yourstruelymelly/Instagram)