As the use and influence of social media continues to grow, we’re starting to see a new kind of internet culture emerge. People are finding their voices and amassing support faster than any strategized marketing campaign.
I loved going through these hashtags. The amount of love and solidarity within the Twitter community is immense, and definitely palpable. In today’s world, it’s incredibly important for everyone to band together and support our brothers and sisters of all colors, ethnicities, and races. Solidarity is a powerful force.
Check out some of these beautiful people:
— Young Queen (@Queen_ABG) November 5, 2015
Alicia Daniella, a Trinidadian-Venezuelan beauty, launched the hashtag #IWillNotApologizeForBeingDarkSkin as a social movement on Twitter in November.
In an interview with Okayafrica, she explains her reasoning behind the hashtag:
“I always questioned myself, ‘Why so much hate when dark skin is God given? The only answer that came to mind was, I cannot change the way God made me, so for people to talk down on dark skin like it’s disgusting and it’s our fault makes me feel like some people are looking for an apology. The truth is, dark skin men and women are beautiful. We owe no one an explanation as to why we are the way God made us and we definitely aren’t going to apologize because our dark skin makes you feel a type of way.”
— AIDEN (@Aaidenb) September 11, 2015
— tutu (@SlimTula20) February 6, 2016
The #EastOnFleek tag was created by @mxdkays in an effort to defy stereotypical beauty standards and display the diversity within the East African community. She posted this note to her account explaining her motives behind the hashtag in September:
— ️ (@mxdkays) September 11, 2015
— naj (@irlbeaut) September 6, 2015
To many, there exists only two kinds of Arab girls: the hyper-sexualized belly dancer or the burqa-donning woman with sad eyes. This hashtag broke those stereotypes by showcasing the wide range of beauty among Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African people, as well as smashing Western beauty standards.
#TheHabibatiTag is a tag started by myself and 3 other gorgeous women who are middle eastern. This tag is meant to be gender neutral, and-
— #FreePalestine☭ (@saradmahmoud) September 6, 2015
-it and show how prideful we are to be Middle Eastern. ❤️❤️❤️
— #FreePalestine☭ (@saradmahmoud) September 6, 2015
The word “habibati” is an Arabic term of endearment directed towards a group of women, bringing the community together.
“I wanted to create this hashtag with the help of the other girls because Middle Easterns and North Africans don’t get enough representation in American pop culture and American media. I felt like that my looks weren’t normal and they weren’t okay because all the girls on T.V. would be pretty blonde, thin girls with blue eyes.”
— halima (@halimasm_) August 14, 2015
— (◔ᴗ◔) (@lonelycatmom) August 14, 2015
The purpose of this hashtag is pretty straightforward – Twitter users with darker skin tones should flex, flaunt, and feel fabulous in their skin. However – and perhaps not so surprisingly – this hashtag faced a lot of lash back. Some Twitter users with fairer skin tones felt excluded, claiming those who participated in the hashtag were promoting one skin tone over another (cue *eyeroll*).
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This Instagram-based hashtag took off last year and aims to prove all skin is beautiful. It was started by Shaun Ross, the first African American albino model, artist, and internet sensation.
In a statement on his site:
Society as we know it has altered the way one looks at the self, from what we wear to the color of our skin. The average human’s sense of self worth has been silenced by the lack of courage, triumph and self encouragement in the world.
The statement continues on to flesh out the purpose behind the movement:
In My Skin I Win is a movement for anyone who has ever felt defeated by a negative social construct of what beauty actually should be. Beauty is you and what you make from your confidence in your own perfectly imperfect body. Together, if we encourage others to love what they see when they look at themselves, we can win in our skin.
— Hermosa (@StephLaReina) June 25, 2015
The #HispanicGirlsUnited hashtag on Twitter gave Latina women a space to share personal experiences with awful stereotypes. Many shared stories about how others questioned their occupations and immigration/family circumstances. Women found solidarity with each other by expressing their frustrations, as well as sharing inspiring pieces of advice.
A large part of the discussion concerned physical appearances:
#HispanicGirlsUnited bc i've been told by peers at age 12 that only "pretty white women " make it in the beauty and art industry
— helter skelter (@jazminnojutsu) June 26, 2015
#HispanicGirlsUnited cause being called a Mexican gorilla for having thick body hair is something I'll never forget
— princesa (@POBREClTA) June 25, 2015
#HispanicGirlsUnited bc chola looks on a white girl (Lana Del Rey/lizzy grant) are considered 'beautiful' but on us, they're 'ratchet'
— tiffany pollard (@peruvianuwrong) June 26, 2015
#HispanicGirlsUnited because the white beauty ideal is shoved down our throats & the only representation we get is hypersexualized
— Claudia Bethlehem (@ClaudiaBellen) June 26, 2015
And the hashtags don’t stop there. There was also #BeautyfromWithin #MelaninMonday, and #MelaninPoppin. Photos were shared across Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr alike, amassing hundreds of thousands of reblogs, retweets, and favorites.
But these hashtags didn’t just display the physical beauty of people. It’s much more than that. What the world saw in these hashtags included the intelligence, wit, and unique culture of each individual.