About 4 years ago, in the wake of Instagram's undeniable takeover of “fourth screen” technology, it was the first time in history that anyone with internet access could become a model. We saw a rampant influx of skin tight yoga pants stretched over perfectly photoshopped thighs with gaps in between.
Your would-have-been Midwestern college freshman was now trading in reading for Fit Teas and skin smoothing apps. Selfies with sensual undertones became sensational. Young girls and grown women alike suddenly found themselves facing the same agonizing struggle: which filter? 1975? Walden? Hudson?
Our screens had somehow turned into mirrors.
My then 17-year-old sister, newly (and ridiculously) insecure about her weight of 118lbs, asked me a penetrating question: “Is this really what the world wants from me?”
Her question sent me into an array of emotions. What was I to tell her? That yes, society as a whole has succumbed to rewarding women who publicly show more and wear less? Was I really supposed to inform her that those rewards were fame, endorsements, popularity and even careers? Her question wouldn't have been so devastating if at least ONE IG Model in her feed had been holding a copy of Atlas Shrugged, or, dare I say, The Feminine Mystique.
The reality is that I didn't need to tell her what the world wanted. She was fated to find out, just like every young girl does. Just like I did.
Unrealistic body images in the media extend well past 2014. This is nothing new for women, but it becomes perpetuated by the concept of becoming famous - insta-famous being an accessible fast track.
One sex tape creates a legacy, a size zero creates opportunity- this is what millenials and gen z's are being taught. Most women fail to realize that the ascension of their likes on half-naked pictures is simultaneously causing the rapid drop of self-esteem in thousands and thousands of young girls.
While I wasn't going to allow my sister to get lost in a labirynth of selfie-sticks and insecurity, I knew that wouldn't be the case for every young girl.
It's easy to become enamored with ideas and images of what we think we should be... but it is only when we live as our true selves that we are granted the gift of internal happiness.
For many women who are in fact Instagram Models, that is their truth and it should be respected as such. I know this, and flash forward to 2018 and my sister now knows this... but what about the girls and women who continue to scroll in self-doubt?
How do we change the messaging? We don't. We can't. It's nearly impossible to do so when assumed role models are born into famous families, their injected lips being the only thing self-made about them.
What we're lacking is authenticity. What we're lacking is soul. So... what if we created SoulModels instead?
A SoulModel is someone who embodies depth and inspiration.
It's a beautiful, shining light human who helps young girls understand that their worth is not determined by their measurements or exterior appearance.
It's time to trade in waist trainers and push-up bras for things like body love, healing, and self-exploration. We no longer need to live in a world where we tell young women what they need to be. Instead, we can encourage them to shamelessly discover their internal corridors of self-love and femininity.
A SoulModel understands the importance of these things, and acts as a beacon of Divine truth.
Luckily, SoulModels are on the rise.
Take Kait Boehm, for example. Kait is an Energy Healing Practitioner and Teacher. She's so in touch with people on a soul-level that she's made it her life's work. She selflessly guides people to the other side of their obstacles in life.
Kait is a wonderful example to young girls and shows us that its possible to be beautiful, successful, AND empathetic all at the same time.
Another SoulModel, Christina Roulund of Size Happy Sisterhood, teaches young girls about body love and self-love, specifically helping young women who suffer from binge & emotional eating. Empowering young women is a gift that she has, on top of being extremely spiritual. Christina's understanding and energy brings so much hope and healing into a world that can often times be cruel.
With more SoulModels activating young women all over the country and the world, we have the ability to shift the mainstream paradigms of femininity.
Women's voices are being heard right now more than ever before, so let's make 2018 the Year of the SoulModel. The Young Women of Gen Z are counting on us. Not only do we owe it to them to carry out the message of Soul... but we also owe it to ourselves.
By: Raquel Reyes
Raquel Reyes is a Writer, Reiki Healer, and Spiritual Enthusiast. She currently teaches Writing Workshops for Women and resides in Los Angeles. In her spare time, you can find her practicing yoga, enjoying foodie life, or hiking with her dogs, Abby & Morgan.