She’s an Instagram influencer and bikini designer who has built a 1.1 million fan base by sharing raw and realistic photos of herself.
But Karina Irby has defended her Instagram page as a “slender white” woman after being called out by another influencer.
Canadian-based body positivity activist Raffela Mancuso last week named Irby and similar accounts as Instagram profiles that needed to be “more inclusive”.
“I could post this same damn photo and not get any engagement from it,” Mancuso wrote in response to one of Irby’s photos which showed how angles changed how her body looked.
“Why is that? Because people inherently believe that my body is bad, whether consciously or not.”
She also accused Irby and other influencers like her of being able to make “big bucks from brand deals, creating their own fashion lines, receiving massive opportunities”.
“Instead of those living in more marginalised bodies who are portraying the same message,” Mancuso added.
Mancuso’s post calling out the Moana Bikini creator and other influencers has since been widely circulated on social media, with many agreeing that more diversity was needed in Instagram’s body positivity space.
“I try to follow accounts that are real, however, you have highlighted to me that even these ‘real’ accounts are white, able-bodied females,” one person wrote in response to Raffela’s post.
“I am so glad you brought this to light and are holding these discussions.”
‘I STAY IN MY LANE’
Irby has since responded to Mancuso’s criticism, saying she believed the internet was a big enough place to allow “slender white women” to talk about body positivity without taking space away from other activists.
“I believe everyone can, and should, talk about what body positivity means to them,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
“When you publicly put yourself out there, opening yourself up to all sorts of criticism, you’re not just doing it for other people who can relate. You’re doing it for yourself as well.”
Irby said that “her story” documented her “own personal insecurities and struggles” which were to do with “chronic eczema, staphylococcalitis, cellulite and bloating”.
“I stay in my lane. I speak what I know and what I’ve personally experienced. Never have I, or will I, preach topics I have never had to deal with,” she wrote.
While it was important that “more and more” people were talking about body positivity, it “isn’t a sport, or a competition, where there can only be one winner”, Irby argued.
“No matter who you are or what you say or do … every single person walking the earth feels insecure or vulnerable about something to do with their body or appearance,” she wrote.
“The more that these traits and features are shared and normalised, and people are encouraged to be comfortable in letting their guard down … the world will be a better place.”
Irby’s post soon attracted plenty of comments, however, not everyone agreed with her defence of her space in the body positivity movement.
“There is nothing wrong with you sharing your experience but I think it’s important for you to acknowledge your privilege at the same time,” one person commented.
“You didn’t pass the mic though. That’s the point. That people with privilege can always be better allies,” another person wrote.
“We don’t need to be perfect allies, or the most informed allies, but better allies. And the ones with big platforms can pass the mic more often to those more marginalised, to pave the way to equality.”
But others said that “body positivity is for anyone with a body” and Irby’s page helped spread awareness on the topic.
“100% agreed! There shouldn’t (be) ‘rules’ on who can or can’t be body positive! The whole point of body positivity is to celebrate ALL BODIES!” one person wrote.
“You make me love my cellulite so thank you for that!” another added.
Originally published as Bikini star’s raw real body confession