Leia Immanuel ’22 Shares Her Voice to Promote Greater Self-Acceptance

Social media influencer and ninth grader, Leia Immanuel, works to share a message of self-love and care through her Instagram account.

She has been featured on lifestyle websites Refinery29, Brit + Co, and IGWorldClub, and in a campaign produced by Allure with Ulta Beauty called “See Yourself, See Each Other” designed to break down beauty standards through open and honest conversations about representation, inclusivity, skin, body, and hair acceptance and positivity. Leia’s message is important in our age of social media, especially for teenagers like herself. We chatted with Leia to hear more about becoming an influencer.

Congrats on your Allure x Ulta campaign! How does it feel to be on the forefront of a movement to promote self-acceptance?
Thank you so much! Honestly, saying that I am on the forefront seems like an overstatement! The whole experience has been surreal. I feel so lucky to have been able to spread my messages on such a huge platform. The self-love and care movement is so important, especially for teenagers and youth, who are stepping into their own sense of self for the first time. I am so glad that big brands like Allure and Vogue, and major makeup and fashion companies are part of the movement. 

Tell us about your Instagram account and how it took off.
I began Instagram in late 2016 as a private account shared with just a few close friends. At that time, I had really bad acne, which I always covered up with foundation. I developed an interest in makeup and eventually a greater interest in fashion, so I decided to document my “looks” on the account. 

My posts began to get more popular among people who followed me, so I decided to make it public. I had absolutely no idea that all of this would happen! My followers grew to approximately 7,000 and I began to notice a lot of comments from girls my age saying how jealous they were of the “perfect” skin I had and how I looked. Part of me felt guilty about the comments because my skin was far from perfect — I felt like I was hiding myself. 

One day, I posted a photo with no makeup and wrote about my acne … that it’s okay to have it and that I decided to stop covering it up. That post became extremely popular, which caught the attention of a photographer who was working on a series to help break down a range of different stereotypes using temporary tattoos of words designed to spark conversation; mine dealt with acne and said, “Why don’t you cover it up?” That post almost went viral and my account gained a lot of popularity. I don’t struggle with acne as much as I did a few years ago, but I still post about acceptance. Being an influencer has definitely put a lot of things into perspective for me and I am utterly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. Overall, I just want to make social media a better place, so I take responsibility in sharing positive messages.

What do you enjoy about being a Dwight student? 
I first came to Dwight last year and saying that it has changed my life would be an understatement! Dwight really is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I transferred in eighth grade and I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far, the people I’ve met, Dwight’s faculty, and my parents for enabling me to go to this school. Dwight feels like a safe place to me — I feel like I can be my most authentic self here. 

One of the things I enjoy most is the theater program here. I was in the Mainstage production of The Learned Ladies last fall and had an amazing time. I started acting last year as part of the Middle School production of Anon(ymous) and absolutely loved it. I didn’t like acting before I came to Dwight, but working with Ms. Guzowski and Mr. Christgau really changed me in the best way and I look forward to being part of future productions.

What’s your favorite subject?
Visual art and biology!

What is your spark of genius?
I think I’m still figuring it out, but in a vague sense I would say philosophy. I am extremely interested in maintaining curiosity about the world around me and in questioning almost everything. I feel like that’s the most important thing — to understand. Plato said, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” and that really speaks to me.

What might you want to study in college and perhaps pursue as a career?
Maybe philosophy, although I do not plan on pursuing it as a career — I am still figuring that out. I am currently focusing on my grades and holding on to any inch of childhood I have left!

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While Leia has plenty of time to figure everything out, we’re glad that she is using her voice now through social media to help make a difference for fellow teenagers. Check out her Instagram account here: @artdr3am