Meet The Influencers Sparking Positive Social Change

Mar 27, 2020

For the next generation of influencers, inspiring positive social change is more than radical: it's the norm. Through casual conversations intrinsically linked to race, identity, sexuality and gender, social media has become a haven for supportive communities—if you choose to seek them out. 

"Within a society of mass social media, influencers represent a level of authenticity and credibility to their audiences, making them a perfect conduit for building communities or sparking conversations," shares Head of Digital & Social Media Rikki Bunder, explaining the phenomena of influencers leading the way for social change. "Being digital natives and having a genuine understanding of their targeted audience they can be, and often are, a catalyst for positive social change."

Celebrating the theme of conversation for Cultural Diversity Week, we compiled some of our favourite influencers, creatives and artists who are actively practising what they preach. 

FLEXMAMI

With a bold personality and vibrant sense of style, Lillian Ahenkan—AKA FlexMami—elevates those around her and encourages you to do the same. Known as the "ultimate slashie", her work in the Australian entertainment industry has seen her conquer DJ tours, live events, radio spots and morning television. Preaching self-love and real thoughts on sex and body positivity, Flex's knack for education and style has made her a beloved icon on the gram.

What inspires us: Her unapologetic self-care and sex advice, her home DIY's, and her bold looks.

Words from the creative: "You don’t get what you don’t ask for." / "Everything in excess. Positivity, love, friendship, good food, feeling — all of it." / "Self-development. Turbo waddling into the most ideal version of myself, for myself, by myself." 

 

CHELLA MAN

Recently making his acting debut on the second season of DC Universe’s superhero series Titans, Chella Man is a 20-year-old deaf, Chinese-American, Jewish, transmasculine, genderqueer model and visual artist. Sharing deeply personal experiences and moments of intimacy, his art explores the revelations of everyday life and his fluid state of being. 

What inspires us: His incredibly raw and intimate writing, candid conversations on sexuality and gender, and his dismantling of the cycles of discrimination. 

Words from the creative: "There is no 'right' way to be deaf." / "We are all perpetually figuring ourselves out as best we can. All I ask is that you try your best and do not give up." / "CLOTHES HAVE NO GENDER!" / "Although gender is socially constructed, the damage it causes is very real."

ARETHA BROWN

Aretha Brown is an aboriginal activist and proud Gumbaynggirr woman from the mid north coast of New South Wales. Exploring the social structures between white and black Australia through art, YouTube and activism, her work debunks misconceptions around Aboriginal culture; pushing a continuous conversation on better education, changing the date, and creating treaties. 

What inspires us: Her passion for better eduction systems, her intricate artworks exploring identity and politics, and her thought-provoking YouTube vlogs. 

Words from the creative: "Everyday is Invasion Day for Aboriginal people. Do not reduce our political struggle to a single day, keep conversations going all year." / "Teach My History." / "To those in the struggle, the sun shines for you." / "Admit to ignorance, in order to grow. Admit to privilege in order to support." 

AARON PHILIP

Aaron Philip is a model and advocate for or LGBTQ+ and disability rights, known for becoming the first black, transgender, wheelchair-using model to be signed by major international agency, Elite Model Management. Setting her sights on the runways of Gucci, Prada and Dior, Aaron is a leader in asking why these spaces shouldn’t be inclusive and representative of all bodies. 

What inspires us: Her sense of style and modelling looks, the way she champions different communities, and her advocacy for normalising the presence of those historically on the outside of fashion. 

Words from the creative: "My goal is normalising the presence of disabled people, women/femmes who are trans and gender nonconforming trans people." / "This is how I flex. We flex not alone — but as a force of togetherness in perpetual harmony, love, light and creativity." / "Be loud and don't look back, because the world has done so much to try and silence people like myself." 

HITOMI MOCHIZUKI

Hitomi Mochizuki is a tantra hatha yoga teacher, preaching holistic self-love and acceptance. Sharing candid discussions on health, anxiety, depression and the benefits of grounding yourself to nature, Hitmoi's outlook on life is a wholesome breath of fresh air. With a passion for "genuine nourishment" of the mind and soul, her art explores letting go of past traumas and letting your intuition guide you.

What inspires us: Her yoga work focusing on reducing anxiety, her reminders to reconnect with nature, and encouragement to seek intimacy in times of self-doubt.  

Words from the creative: "You have the option of choosing what you’re looking for in a connection." / "I invite interactions with all people because they help me see a part of myself that may need healing." / "When I feel disconnected in life it’s often because I am disconnected from myself and my true nature." 

JAZZMYNE JAY ROBBINS

Known for her shaved hair, bright lipstick and happy-go-lucky body positivity, Jazzmyne Jay Robbins is a queer plus size model, activist, influencer, and video producer who curates a wholesome Instagram. Flaunting her latest fashion looks and curves, her posts will bring you joy whether she's dancing alone in her bedroom or stomping the runway at New York Fashion Week. 

What inspires us: Her killer caption game, her candid no-frills exploration of body positivity, and ability to style incredible, colourful looks. 

Words from the creative: "Here is me and my body. There's a lot of it and that is fine with me because it's mine and I love me." / "When you look in the mirror I hope you realise you are worthy and special and you're emotional and that’s one of the most beautiful things about you. Stay strong and stay bold." / "I just want you to be the most confident you."

KICKI YANG ZHANG

Kicki Yang Zhang is a model and artist based in Berlin, pushing the boundaries of beauty and makeup with each new post. Creating intricate art on her face, her bold fashion looks and frank feminist conversations push for diversity in all aspects of content, especially for young Asian women. Discussing everything from racism to Western beauty standards, Kicki's belief in herself and abilities translates into bold, unapologetic looks.

What inspires us: Her ability to take a theme or issue and explore it through makeup, her can-do attitude for young creatives, and constant fashion wins. 

Words from the creative: "You don’t owe anyone shit and never be afraid to be or work in a male-dominated field." / "I’m here to tell you everything is temporary. I’m here to tell you that certain people don’t deserve your tears. I’m here to tell you your time will come." / "What I find beautiful isn’t necessary what you find beautiful."

This blog was written for Cultural Diversity Week, as Collarts encourages curiosity, conversation, and community from 21–29 March. Cover image via www.flexmami.com

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