It's no secret that a scroll through Instagram can sometimes have the unpleasant effect of breeding the tendency to compare and despair.
Too often, social media influencers tend to almost blend in with one another, representing only a certain type of body or lifestyle.
But then there are other times when you do see the best parts of what social media can offer the world: a platform for people to shift the norm, and to represent what mainstream media glosses over or totally ignores.
And that's exactly why Unlikely Hikers, an Instagram account that aims to represent fit bodies of all kinds, is so inspiring, and so, so necessary.
Jenny Bruso, who runs the account as well as a separate hiking blog, identifies as "queer, femme, fat, former indoors kid."
Bruso's body-positive journey began when she went hiking on a first date with her now partner, Brie, a day she's said changed her life forever.
She told Portland Monthly,
It changed my life right then and there. We got to a viewpoint and something clicked into place in my head.
After that day, Bruso started her blog and began posting pictures of her adventures, with a goal to shift the image of what it really means to be outdoorsy and have a relationship with nature.
Bruso feels this is important because, according to her, the face of the outdoors is usually a thin, flawless white woman looking like she got “airlifted” to a mountain top -- which is not what a hike looks like on her:
I look haggard and like I just worked my ass off to get up there.
While Bruso does post pictures of herself hiking, the Instagram account mostly features a diverse range of other "unlikely" hikers and their stories.
Among other posts on the page are a queer, polyamorous family of color, an adventure-loving husband and wife who aren't afraid to admit they don't look like the typical couple ("a thin white man and a tall, plus-sized black woman"), and a German traveler who uses a wheelchair.
For Bruso, hiking offers her a way to cope with the anxieties of everyday life -- a common theme for the people represented on her Instagram and blog.
For example, in her interview with Portland Monthly, Bruso said one of the hikers featured on her blog is a veteran from Louisiana who finds solace in nature after contending with PTSD and depression for much of his life.
Bruso explained how she personally finds peaceful in the tranquility of nature:
Even when I'm in a really bad place, when I'm hiking I get distracted by the rhythm of moving. And I love it. I feel like I get to carry that relief with me.
And that's truly something everyone, and every body, can relate to.