Why Russians are embracing their physical ‘imperfections’ on social media

A group of women feature in a body positive campaign on Russian social media Image copyright @Tysya
Image caption People are encouraged to show their scars and stretch marks

Social media often gets a bad name when it comes to body positivity. The pressure to display physical perfection is never far away.

However, a young activist known as @Tysya is determined to change all this.

The Russian Instagram influencer who has 1.2 million followers has asked people to post images of themselves without make-up or retouching.

Posters are also encouraged to use the hashtag #SoMnoyVsyoTak ("All is fine with me").

Writing on her YouTube channel, @Tysya says: "Together with bloggers and subscribers, we are saying that our bodies are perfect without retouching and the right poses. Stretch marks, scars, cellulite, dorsal humps, acne - are not problems. These are properties of a body and each one is unique. All is fine with me. What about you?"

@Tysya later told the BBC that the idea of body positivity is only just beginning to spread in Russia.

"I always knew this was an issue for many, but I didn't realise how painful it was," she says.

At the time of writing, more than 2000 users have participated in the campaign. Its promotional video on Tysya's Instagram has been viewed by more than 1 million people and received more than half a million views on YouTube.

@Tysya added: "Women are sharing their photos on social media, writing that everything is fine with them and that they have started accepting their bodies or at least have started thinking about why they used to always want to change something about themselves".

The issue has attracted a lot of debate on social media.

On Instagram, @yulya_belove is full of praise for Tysya's campaign, saying it deserves attention and respect.

She adds: "My daughter has a scar across her stomach but from childhood I instil self-love in her, so that nobody allows her to doubt it."

Image copyright @yulya_belove
Image caption Some people don't feel ready to show their scars

Elsewhere on Instagram, @ulyakoroliova ignores pressure to cover up, deciding to show off her scars with pride and glitter rather than concealer.

She posts: "Yes, my scars prevent me from aligning with society's beauty standards, but I've just stopped believing in them."

Image copyright @Tysya
Image caption Several women have been taking part in the body positive campaign

Another blogger @murwitch was born with severe hair loss but says she's happy to be bald and to wear wigs.

She writes: "I was subjected to mockery at school and on the street. I didn't know how to live with this problem. I am happy that I have relieved myself of this burden and lies."

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However, elsewhere in social media, there are differing views.

On Twitter Akela posts:

"How it amuses me that people are justifying their laziness, their weakness etc with body positivity. Now this movement is gaining momentum under the 'Somnoyvsyotak' hashtag. But let's look truth in the eyes. You need to look after yourself; nobody is speaking of being fanatical, just to stay fit."

On YouTube, Kamo calls body positivity an excuse for laziness.

'Agility' claims people who are obese are lying when they say they feel positive about themselves.

Popular fitness blogger Maria Sokolova also entered the debate with a post on YouTube, admitting that "there are certain features of our body that are not under our control", but being overweight is "a question of health".

"There can't be talk of loving yourself. It is completely illogical."

However, @Tysya has vowed not to stop her campaign. "I will continue pushing the idea of body positivity and accepting yourself among my subscribers."