Celebrating bodies big and small: Body positive influencers to follow this new year

While Ireland may hold the title of third most body-positive country in the world, January can make body positivity difficult.

We’re bombarded with ads for fitness, diets, fads and gimmicks that are all throwing around buzzwords like ‘improvement’ ‘your best self’ and ‘self love’, using body positive language to sell an unrealistic body type cloaked in language that masks its true intent – to prey on your insecurities.

It’s easy to fall victim to them – marketing and messaging has gotten so clever that we may not even realise we’re looking at ads sometimes. We also may not realise the effect that the subliminal messaging is having on us. Cut through the noise this January with these loud and proud voices on Instagram that are all about getting you to love your body for what it can – and can’t – do. Not for what it looks like.

Maeve Madden

I found Maeve’s page during the early days of the pandemic when we were all frantically working out form home and found her to be a fantastic source of necessary realness. The influencer trap can make us feel like these people on the screen are just like us through their relatability, but they’re unattainably gorgeous, never seem to bloat and are always dressed to impress and we can wonder – if they’re ‘just like us’, why can’t I look like that?  

Maeve is a breath of fresh air in the fitness influencer culture, having battled with and continues to overcome disordered eating. Her page is full of workout routines but they avoid the subliminal body shaming language, like the ‘Beach-bod abs’ or ‘toned arms workout’. Calorie counting, unachievable lifestyles or body negativity has no place on this page. Maeve is all about strengthening our bodies, feeling the positive mental benefits of exercise and feeling fit – not thin.

But what is most striking about her page is that, peppered amongst all the workouts and funny selfies, there are serious, considered and honest posts about her struggle with disordered eating. Madden lays bare the pitfalls of the ‘wellness’ and fitness industry and how easy it is to go from being interested in bettering your body to being consumed by it. She doesn’t hold back, posting old pictures of herself that she used to consider beautiful for their thinness, and now she looks back on with horror at the unhappy woman she sees. She shows how our bodies can change not only from day to day, but hour to hour, making us all love our bloating and little pouches – because everyone has them!

Roz Purcell


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An Irish model and long-time advocate of self-acceptance and body positivity, Roz Purcell has been inspiring Irish gals with her honest and vulnerable posts about her body image struggles for years.

Unafraid to get very real, the foodie blogger and fitness expert documents the struggles that every woman deals with, the tiny insecurities, the self-consciousness at the beach, the fear that someone is staring.

Purcell tackles these feelings publicly and head-on, dealing with the aftermath of her modelling career where the focus was solely on her body. She takes on cultural and societal pressures on our bodies too, reminding viewers of Love Island that the show can make people feel self-conscious about their own insecurities and that it wasn’t real life.

‘None cares or notices and if they do, if they care about my bits (that are not part of this perfect image portrayed by society) then they're dicks. You deserve to run about in a swimsuit, jump in the sea, dip in the pool, not be bleeding boiling on holidays. Don't let anyone tell you different (even your own head ).’  

Trisha Lewis

Cork native, Trisha Lewis, began her transformation journey in February 2018 at 26 stone. And since then we’ve all been following along with her amazing and inspiring journey to fitness through its ups and downs, good days and bad days – all of which she documents with searing honesty.

Trisha’s honest and upfront account documents not only the good moments but highlights the struggles of the mental journey to fitness, as well as the physical;

‘The truth is for this to work you have to be selfish in the best way possible. You have to prioritise water, food, sleep and exercise. You have to learn to say the hardest two letter word in the English language. No.’

Apart from inspiring stories, the 32-year-old author, corporate wellness speaker and chef has an IGTV section full of delicious and healthy recipes for us all to try out. From broccoli soup to the perfect ‘fakeaway’ chicken curry, she’s got every taste covered. She’s all about starting where you are and being gentle with and loving your body every step of the way.

Celeste Barber

You’ve probably seen Celeste before, as she’s well-known for her hilarious and creative send ups of celebrity photos. She brings a dose of reality to your timeline with her relatable ‘fails’ that just show us the realer side of the Instagram – and the behind the scenes that probably goes into all your favourite celeb’s photos.

The comedic Instagrammer turned author has written a book - Challenge Accepted! 253 Steps to Becoming an Anti-It Girl - all about the challenges facing real women in today’s world... with a comedic twist of course! Even for all her messing, she shows the real beauty and bodies that don’t necessarily make the cut for the ‘gram!

Jameela Jamil


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Most known for her role as Tahani in The Good Place, Jameela Jamil is not only an actress and writer, but is also an activist behind the popular Instagram account ‘I Weigh’. Her platform is all about her journey overcoming anorexia, hearing loss, and a variety of debilitating accidents and health issues in her youth. Using her platform to promote acceptance and promotion of differently abled bodies and finding them worth in our bodies at all their different stages.  

Her posts cut to the core of body issues, moving away from fluffy dialogue and fads to get real with her followers. ‘Real self-love is not loving every inch of yourself. It's knowing you are so much more.’