Germany’s diversity influencer and advocate, Tijen Onaran, has amazing eye earrings that are watching you!

Take your place, no matter your size

Roles models of all forms inspire on the ‘gram

While catching up on an Instagram Live Session (my version of attending events in this new reality,) I chanced upon a conversation between GDW Global Digital Women founder, author, investor (and one of my online heroes,) Tijen Onaran, and a new-to-me woman behind the Instagram account schoenwild. Their discussion in German was fun to translate on the fly, but I decided to extract some of the messages here in English because what they had to say is especially important in light of recent news events. Namely, what we say to each other (online) matters.

Tijen Onaran and Jules Schoenwild pose for a selfie at the end of their chat

Jules Schoenwild describes herself as ‘curvy’. But that is not what others call her. Although she won a competition as Miss Hamburg, people literally called her a whale, and much worse. I mean, really WTF.

This launched the conversation between these two German social media megastars about how much we overtly or subconsciously pass judgment on people for their appearance.

It was enlightening to hear what Jules had to say, about the way in which people discount her due to her weight or size, despite her complete professionalism and skills. It challenged me to be more sensitive to this topic, too.

She described numerous online comments when people body-shamed her, forgetting that “wer schriebt bleibt” basically meaning, what you say online stays there. Jules Schoenwild has 88K followers on Instagram and advocates for diverse-size role models through the hashtag “#respectmysize”.

When Tijen asked her guest how she responds to online negativity, Schoenwild says: “My Instagram account is like my living room. You can’t drag your crap in here.”

Jules’ takeaways were pretty much these:

  • Take your place. Be confident in who you are no matter your shape.
  • Build communities that are truly diverse, not catering to one definition of beauty or physical perfection. Remember not to be tricked into the “male gaze,” where we see our surroundings or ourselves in purely the way a man might.
  • That said when it helps to think as typically a guy might then do it! For example, don’t waste time regretting what you said on some podcast; own the comment – move on.
  • Beware of social bubbles or echo-like chambers. Find a way to get out of them and welcome different points of view.
  • Build up your own visibility and openness and show empathy to others.

Finally, Tijen and Jules agreed on some core things: we need more diverse teams and diversity is not just gender-based. We need more access to financial capital for women. But one thing you can do is put your money where your values are. You can look for and consume from, female-led startups. You can follow female founders’ journeys on social media.

One positive sentiment that they both shared was that no matter the amount of hate generated online, there is also an unending source of supportive voices. you just need to find them…

Learn more about Tijen’s organization Global Digital Women and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. It’s uplifting. Also, check out the mentorship community for female founders being built by Dora Dora and others over of FemGemsClub. Or follow me, as I keep an eye on this whole space. 👀

Reporting from within a Venn diagram of health, tech and empowerment. Berlin-based. Internationally minded. Comms @ Earlybird Venture Capital

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