UPDATE: The next edition of #ThighsForJeaux is happening today!

Last week Friday, South African Twitter was turned into a body positive stream of photos and tweets when 21-year-old Mixo (@Mijeaux) prompted her followers to tweet her a picture of their thighs.

She declared that in the hot summer weather, no one should feel like they have to hide their bodies or be restricted by the opinions of others regardless of what they look like, and posted a picture of her own bare legs in a summer outfit using the hashtag #ThighsForJeaux. Her followers began doing the same and by the afternoon, the hashtag was trending in South Africa.

We chatted to Mixo about her viral body positive moment and the story behind it.

What inspired you to start the #ThighsForJeaux hashtag?

The first time I hosted #ThighsForJeaux was in March 2015. I was on Twitter talking about how hot it was, and how it was impossible for us not to show our thighs in the heat.
I’ve experienced street harassment because I was wearing something short and that resulted in me completely avoiding showing my thighs because I don’t want to risk harassment. But I also said that whoever is upset about it would just have to deal with it.
Something else that motivated me to do the hashtag is how often people are judged for showing their thighs, especially if their thighs are deemed imperfect by societal standards. I wanted to use the hashtag to problematise these attitudes towards our bodies.
The reaction was great but it didn’t reach a lot of people the first time. A few followers requested that I do it again last week because of the heat.

What were you hoping to achieve when you started it?

I really just wanted to have an intersectional, judgement-free and body positive platform. I also wanted everyone participating to feel free, unashamed, and have fun when sharing photos of themselves.

Did you expect to that it would get such a big reaction?

I really didn’t expect such a big reaction, especially since it wasn’t the first time I had hosted #ThighsForJeaux. I was so overwhelmed when I saw that it was trending in South Africa. I’m truly grateful to everyone who took part: they made it possible.

Do you have body positivity role models or particular campaigns that have inspired you?

My body positivity role models are the black women on my Twitter timeline. I’ve been following most of them for years, and I’ve learned so much from them. 

How do you think Twitter affected the body positivity movement?

I think it facilitates honest and realistic conversations on body image and body shaming, with perspectives from a wide variety of ordinary people. Magazines have facilitated this conversation but to be honest, even with some plus size women on the covers, we still see unrealistic body standards.

What do you think needs to change so that body positivity becomes the norm rather than the exception?

What needs to change is representation on TV, in the media, in music, etc. Every day we are bombarded with images perpetuating unrealistic beauty and body standards. They are unrealistic because they are not representative of a lot of women in the real world. It feels horrible going through a magazine or watching something and not being able to relate to the images of women.

Do you have any advice for how to achieve, or at least get closer to, full body acceptance?

Each individual’s body positivity journey is unique. I think learning to affirm yourself is an important step. It doesn’t always work, but on good days, it helps so much.