Statistics released this week by the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label, claim that 40% of young people said they felt bad if nobody liked their selfies and 35% said their confidence was directly linked to the number of followers they had on social media.
These views on the negative effects of social media on young people’s self-esteem are shared by Marciel Hopkins, a body-positive activist, Miss South Africa 2016 finalist and plus-size model for London-based MOT Models ‘Curves’ division.
The motivational speaker and Instagram star, with a following of 51,300, campaigns for positive body image, especially among young women, as this is a cause very close to her heart.
Marciel Hopkins, who is currently spending time on various modelling assignments in Germany and the UK, is also in the process of developing a course for school children to teach body acceptance, holistic health and mental wellness. The course will be launched in South Africa and will be the first programme of its kind led by a professional model. If the course is successful it will be rolled out internationally, starting in London.
Marciel said: ‘Young people should not let what they see on social media get them down. It’s not worth fighting a daily battle with your food and body. Bodies are different and we can’t all look the same. We are spoon-fed with images of unrealistic body goals where people are airbrushed to perfection. Social media has influenced the way people want to look and this is dangerous for those of a younger generation as this could influence their health for the rest of their lives.
Marciel continued: ‘Too many young girls think they have to be skinny and slim to be popular. People instead need to strive towards being the healthiest and happiest version of themselves whatever their natural shape. I’m happy and healthy as a natural size 14. I haven’t weighed myself since the Miss South Africa pageant, to stay away from “negative voices”. Weight does not determine anyone’s worth.
‘I want to encourage people to embrace who they are and realise that a healthy body can take many forms. I work as a life coach and there is nothing better than seeing the transformation of someone who has been fighting with body issues.’
Founder of MOT Models, Mike Illes said: ‘We are very excited to welcome such an inspirational individual to MOT Models. Marciel stands out as an individual for her positive attitude and star personality. Marciel understands the importance of being healthy in your own way and the issues faced by young women and teenagers lacking body confidence. She is a fantastic role model for young women.
During July and August, Marciel Hopkins will be modelling for various campaigns across Europe. She will then be heading back to South Africa to focus on her new project.