Does scrolling through Instagram spark anxiety and FOMO? Then you need to follow these 8 positive influencers right away
Did you know that self-love gurus wear green lipstick and twerk?
Social media is a crazy place. On one hand, there’s a vortex of narcissism and photoshopped selfies selling beauty solutions for problems we didn’t even know we had. One the other, there are little chefs who have more talent in the kitchen than most grown adults, witty accounts that kept us laughing through the dark days of lockdown and desi memes that will have you nodding along with a hard yes as you scroll.
I tend to find myself scrolling through with a raging case of FOMO. I see people living their best lockdown lives making paniyarams from scratch, working out and painting life-size canvases while I’m lying in bed at 2am munching on Kurkure.
But in the midst of all the sunset filters that make me want to pack up and move to Goa, there have been some beacons of joy. I see them as the positive influencers of the social media world. Ones with a no-nonsense approach to life, sharing inspiring stories, witty quips, wholesomeness and even professional expertise to help us better ourselves inside and out.
We need more positive influencers who are using their platforms to initiate uncomfortable conversations, challenge us to do better for ourselves and bring some happiness into our lives, even if it means twerking to motivational quotes.
Positive influencers on social media you should follow
Dr Falguni Vasavada-Oza @falgunivasavada
View this post on Instagram
If we had more professors like Dr Falguni Vasavada-Oza, I (probably) would have paid more attention in class. The strategic marketing specialist doesn’t just stand out for her successful 15-year career at Mudra Insitute of Communications, Ahmedabad, but for her mould-shattering social media personality.
She uses her platform to spread body positivity, acceptance and joy, often speaking about her own self-doubts while growing up.
From being body shy and unsure in her teen years, despite her multiple academic accomplishments, to finally letting go, experimenting and openly expressing herself – Oza’s confidence oozes through the screen and makes you smile.
“I have been judged on the lip shades I wear because I am an academician,” says the educator, who routinely sports green or black lipstick. “Those judgements make it clear that I still must keep walking on this path. When I boldly wear any lip shade, I give confidence to young girls to live life on their choices.”
Her content doesn’t just leave you feeling motivated — you also come away with some handy life skills, that she presents with a side of wit and social commentary — like how to make sambar and gaining financial independence.
Danae Mercer @danaemercer
Journalist and positive influencer Danae Mercer started making news when she shattered the bubble of social media modelling by spilling on the tricks that people employ to get those Instagram-worthy body shots.
“My main goal with my ‘how influencers get X’-type videos is to educate and pull back the curtain, and remind people that what we see online is incredibly filtered, posed, and perfected,” she said in an interview.
A former editor of a women’s magazine, Mercer has been privy to what goes into making the magic happen on our screens. She uses her platform to break the mirage of ‘perfect’ Instagram by sharing photographs of herself – stretch marks, cellulite and all.
She wants to change the narrative of what is deemed as imperfection. Mercer talks openly about self-acceptance, body image and her past eating disorders as a way to challenge the idea that physical and mental health have anything to do with the number that pops up on a scale.
Dr Rupy Aujla @doctors_kitchen
A medical doctor at the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, Dr Rupy Aujla is also the man behind The Doctor’s Kitchen on Instagram. He uses this platform to share recipes, research, his medical knowledge about good nutrition and how we can use food as medicine.
Instead of scaring people about the ill effects of junk food and how your body is going to slowly deteriorate, he taps into the diversity of global cuisines and creates colourful, healthy recipes for viewers to follow.
He encourages viewers to look at health holistically and learn about the medicinal properties of what we eat, to get them excited about cooking their next meal.
“Food is not a cure-all or a replacement for the many drugs and services that I prescribe as an NHS doctor daily but it is a huge component of wellbeing,” he says in a Ted talk.
For Aujla, eating healthy has a lot to do with self-care. Looking at his feed can seem a bit intimidating at first. I mean, you don’t go from being a food noob one day to cooking a panko-crusted Chilean sea bass the next. Hopeless chefs, fear not, there are simpler recipes to try, like a green bean stir fry and coconut mushroom curry.
Rohan Chakravarty @green_humour
View this post on Instagram
Rohan Chakravarty’s cartoon strips make you think as much as they make you laugh. You would never guess that he started out as a dentist.
He’s the man behind Green Humour — cartoons and comic strips that talk about important wildlife and environmental issues plaguing the country and Earth. Through cartoons, he talks to the masses about environmental conservation, which otherwise might seem too dire or boring to a younger audience or anyone outside of the science world.
“I believe when the human mind sees a visual accompanied by humour, it is compelled to retain and respond to it. Humour has that punch and power,” he said in an interview.
You also get to learn a thing or two about the natural world from his page. Like, did you know there are hundreds of (known) LGBTQ+ wildlife species?
Sakshi Sindwani @stylemeupwithsakshi
View this post on Instagram
That colour you thought was too bright for your skin tone, or the crop top people told you wasn’t made for your ‘body type’? Sakshi Sindwani is going to make you want to try everything you have ever wanted, and do a catwalk.
The body positive creator and model’s confidence is infectious. She refuses to conform to what society expects of her and challenges every stereotype – body, gender, fashion.
Be it walking the ramp at fashion week, magazine covers, her fitness videos, look books and even dancing with her parents – Sindwani has carved out space for herself in the fashion world, paving the way for many more to follow.
She’s honest about her journey to becoming comfortable in her own skin and it makes you want to smack yourself on the head for ever listening to the person that told you you weren’t enough, to do, say or wear what you wanted.
“It took me 25 years to gain courage to wear a two-piece bathing suit. But 25 is looking good on me,” she said in a recent post. “These last few months, I’ve lost and gained weight. I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions much like everyone else but you know what has got me through? Knowing everything eventually falls in place. I am taking this time to heal, rejuvenate, get inspired and fall in love with myself all over again. I urge you to do the same.”
Jameela Jamil @jameelajamilofficial
Actor, radio presenter, model and activist, Jameela Jamil dons many hats. She often finds herself as a hot topic of intense debate on social media. Because she doesn’t shy away from calling a spade a spade.
Jamil has been vocal about toxic diet culture and products being advertised by influencers on social media that literally give you diarrhoea to lose weight. She founded I Weigh, which started as a platform that celebrated women beyond appearance, promoting self-love and self-worth.
“I tend to stay away from people who talk about bodies – big or small or toned or not toned. I don’t f*ck with that at all. The word “weigh” makes people think I Weigh is about body positivity. But it’s really not. It’s about life positivity. What I’m trying to do is get rid of body chat altogether. I Weigh has reminded me of my own self-worth, and I’ve started to look at myself as a whole human being,” she revealed in a recent interview to Grazia UK.
It has snowballed into a movement that is bringing together diverse voices as Jamil uses her platform to be a positive influencer, initiating conversations on race, identity, gender and equality.
It’s not just words on the internet either but on-ground changes through congressional hearings and legislation that Jamil and her team are fighting for.
Follow her to see the social change that is taking place, the conversations she has with leaders from various walks like Munroe Bergdorf and Gloria Steinem on the I Weigh podcast, or even just for her vivacious self that come alive on screen through Tahani Al-Jamil in The Good Place.
Poonam Sapra @motherwithsign
View this post on Instagram
There’s nothing quite like unsolicited desi mummy advice. From who to marry, to what job you should do, and the right way to cut gajar. There is an unending supply of inspiration, enough for you to exclaim “uff, mama ab bas bhi karo!”
But, there is quintessential, wholesome goodness that also only comes from them. In the darkest of times, when everything around you is chaotic, you just need that mental one-tight slap to snap you out of your brain fog and that’s exactly what mom advice does.
Poonam Sapra has become that digital mummy for us with the Instagram account Mother with Sign. Mother of comedian Pranav Sapra, this lovely lady with her handwritten messages and signboard quickly took over our ice-cold hearts.
The page was started by her son in the style of the viral Dude with Sign and Sapra is happy to go along with it because of the positive response she’s been getting. In an interview, she says, “My son and I try our best to keep the content simple, relatable and light—as it is 2020 is tough on everyone. I am keen on making the youngsters see things from the parents’ perspective and vice versa.”
On those gloomy days when nothing seems to go your way (or just any other Monday basically), Mother with Sign will help you get out of bed in the morning and call your own mother and apologise for all your teenage angst she had to deal with.
Donté Colley @donte.colley
View this post on Instagram
Dancer Donte Colley’s videos are all the Monday motivation you’re going to need to shimmy your way through the week. You’ve definitely come across one of his videos in your Instagram suggested feed and on TikTok (RIP). He’s that ‘dancing motivational guy’.
Colley always loved to dance. He tapped into its healing powers four years ago when his sister died by suicide. “Dancing helped me heal and sharing dance with others has helped me raise awareness,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “It helps just being able to remind people that they are not alone.”
He can dance to pretty much anything from pop hits to the Game of Thrones theme song. His moves are slick and his use of emojis and text on the video has become his recognisable marker.
His videos have gone viral and shared by people like Jennifer Garner, Beyonce, Leslie Jones and more. He’s even collaborated with Ariana Grande in a music video. He hasn’t let the attention get to him and stayed clear on his mission to spread some joy.
So if you’re feeling low, do a little jig and listen to Colley, “you’ve got this”.