This International Women’s Day, the #SideProfileSelfie viral campaign creator grew up hating her nose — then social media happened
As part of a series to mark International Women’s Day, Moneyish asked some prominent people to share their thoughts and experiences regarding issues important to females. Read more here.
This International Women’s Day, I’m dealing with my biggest insecurity.
When I was a teenager growing up in the ’00s, I used to turn to magazines for support. The teen titles were the only places where I could read about body insecurities, awkward dating stories and the very unsexy topic of low self-esteem. I would turn to the agony aunt and “confession” pages to read obsessively about other girls feeling awkward about body hair or the way they looked.
It made me feel better about my biggest insecurity: my nose. It’s big, crooked and has affected me my whole life. I grew up being called “dinosaur” and having girlfriends tell me that I’d look prettier if it were smaller. The only solace I gained was in these teen mags, at least until I’d turn a page and see a glowing, airbrushed advert of an impossibly attractive model with a very small nose — and immediately hate myself again.
Teenagers today have it both better and worse. They’re bombarded with unattainable images on their phones by celebrity Instagram accounts and their friends’ Snapchat filters. But they also have so many outlets to turn to for positive inspiration and the ever-important feeling of inclusion. Campaigns helping people love their thunder thighs, saggy boobs and acne are an amazing antidote to the filtered images of the social media age.
That’s why I created one this year. I respect previous body positivity campaigns, but they’ve never resonated with me because of my specific insecurity. Recently, I decided to take matters into my own hands and break the big-nose taboo. I took a photo of my big nose in profile, and asked my social media followers to join in with their own #sideprofileselfie. I had no idea it would go viral; in fact, I was worried that no one would react to it.
As a journalist and author, I took full advantage of my platform to promote my #sideprofileselfie campaign. It went viral within 24 hours of its launch in Grazia magazine with an essay I wrote and an Instagram photo I posted. I also went on national television in the United Kingdom, where I live, to discuss it.
To date, I’ve received thousands of photos and messages from women — and even some men — who tell me how my campaign has completely changed the way they feel. I’ve had messages from mothers who feel beautiful for the first time in their lives; teen girls who are going to try and love their noses instead of changing them with plastic surgery. “I’ve been getting fillers,” said one. “But as soon as they wear off, I’m going to stop. I want to love my nose like you do.”
Another woman said she’s hated her nose for 30 years, to the point where she has to turn her head when driving her car in traffic so that others won’t see her nose in side-profile. A 14-year-old messaged me to say that she’s going to stand up to the bullies telling her she’s ugly: My campaign has given her the confidence to embrace her face.
These people are no longer alone with their insecurities, and I can relate to every single one of them.
The response demonstrates firsthand the power of social media. It is so important people like myself, who have public platforms, take advantage of our unique positions to spread the love. Only then will we counter the negative messages coming from other forms of media, and only then will we be able to help future generations of girls.
Radhika Sanghani is a U.K.-based award-winning freelance journalist who writes for The Telegraph and the Guardian of London. She is the author of two millennial comedies: Virgin and Not That Easy.
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