Bored of holding your body up to unrealistic beauty standards, bored by how you’ve been socially conditioned to think that you are somewhat lesser than, because your stomach, soft and dough-like, is patterned with iridescent stretch marks and your legs are not of Amazonian proportions?
If you’re bored of feeling that you are never enough; that you will be happier if you just lose another 10lbs; that you somehow take up too much space, then you’re probably bored by your Instagram feed too.
For every hashtag — #dropadresssize #thighgap #nothingtastesasgoodasskinnyfeels — that comes loaded with body-shaming, these are the celebrities who are spearheading the body-positivity campaign and empowering women everywhere by teaching us how to unapologetically love ourselves — JUST AS WE ARE.
Fighting for size inclusivity on and off the runway, model Ashley Graham has been described as this generation’s body-positive icon. Throughout her pregnancy, the new mum was eager to show the stretch marks on her changing body, so it’s no surprise that the new mum shared unedited pictures of her postpartum body just three weeks after giving birth.
“I would’ve never guessed that disposable underwear would be my favourite piece of clothing, but here we are. No one talks about the recovery and healing new moms go through. I wanted to show you guys it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.”
As the first size-16 model to ever land the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, the star refuses to have her photos retouched and has even created her own size-inclusive clothing lines, all while calling on the fashion world to ban the term “plus-size”.
“I think the word ‘plus-size’ is so divisive to women,” Graham said in an interview with CBS This Morning. “I think that when you use the word ‘plus-size’ you’re putting all these women into a category: ‘You don’t eat well.’ ‘You don’t work out.’ ‘You could care less about your body.’ ‘You’re insecure.’ ‘You have no confidence.’”
Charging towards a more inclusive, tolerant society, Stacey Solomon is known for her unfiltered candour, especially when it comes to her body.
“I think the first time I ever felt (something needed to change) was when an article was written about my boobs being saggy. I always thought, ‘Yeah, my boobs are much lower than the average 20-year-old,’ but I never thought they were horrible.
“I think that was the first time I thought, ‘What message are we sending out to girls that my healthy body, that I am happy with, isn’t good enough?’
“From then on, I just decided I wasn’t going to go along with that and I really wanted to champion my body because I am really happy with it. I think beauty is completely subjective, and a state of mind.”
Opening up about her struggles with eating disorders and mental health, Demi Lovato vowed to longer edit pictures of her body when she shared an unedited bikini shot on Instagram in September.
“I’m just literally sooooo tired of being ashamed of my body, editing it (yes the other bikini pics were edited — and I hate that I did that, but it’s the truth) so that others think I’m THEIR idea of what beautiful is, but it’s just not me. This is what I got. I want this new chapter in my life to be about being authentic to who I am, rather than trying to meet someone else’s standards. So here’s me, unashamed, unafraid and proud to own a body that has fought through so much and will continue to amaze me when I hopefully give birth one day (sic).”
Hilary Duff similarly took to Instagram to celebrate her body: “I am posting this on behalf of young girls, women, and mothers of all ages. I’m enjoying a vacation with my son after a long season of shooting and being away from him for weeks at a time over those months. Since websites and magazines love to share celeb flaws — well, I have them!
“My body has given me the greatest gift of my life: Luca, five years ago. I’m turning 30 in September and my body is healthy and gets me where I need to go. Ladies, let’s be proud of what we’ve got and stop wasting precious time in the day wishing we were different, better, and unflawed. You guys (you know who you are!) already know how to ruin a good time, and now you are body shamers as well. #kissmyass”
Powerhouse Serena Williams has long documented her struggles with her body image. Admitting that she regularly compared herself to her ‘thinner’ sister, Venus.
“People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong,” Serena told Harper’s Bazaar UK. “I was different to Venus: she was thin and tall and beautiful.”
The abuse led to the heartbreaking revelation that in 2004, Serena wrote a list of goals for herself. Top of that list was winning Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Italian Open. Following that, was the goal to get down to a size four.
Now, the doting mom celebrates the skin she is in and empowering her daughter to grow up in a world where your worth isn’t defined by your body.
Taking to Instagram she wrote: “Dear Mom, You are one of the strongest women I know. I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body. I don’t know how I would react if she has to go through what I’ve gone through since I was a 15 years old and even to this day...”
Lena Dunham has proven herself as a body-positive role model for her millions of fans, thanks, in part, to her self-written, produced and directed HBO series, Girls, which featured raw and unfiltered sex scenes where her body was the focal point. Since staking her claim on the world of comedy, she’s used her experience as an opportunity to promote body love.
She revealed: “I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence. Which sounds like I spent a week at a meditation retreat, but it’s genuinely how I feel. I think I can do anything, as cliche as it sounds, to aid in the comfort of a woman accepting her form, then I want to do that.”
Scrolling through Cathy Costello’s Instagram page, it takes all of five seconds to realise why the 23-year-old trailblazer has fast become one of Ireland’s most prolific body positivity icons. On a social media platform so saturated with airbrushed lookalikes, the Wexford native’s dimpled thighs, soft stomach and visible stretch marks are food for the soul.
On a mission to empower women to embrace their bodies, whatever their shape or size, Cathy reveals she’s finally learned to love her body.
“I used to be scared of the term plus-size, but people can call me whatever they want now. I am just a model, and for a lot of women, this is what their bodies look like, and I am representing them. I am a size 10 to 12 and have double Ds.
“Now, I love my body for what it does. You only have one body. I know being a model is so contradictory, but your body is literally only one part of you, and I’ve learned not to be so obsessed with.”
Body positivity advocate Rozanne Purcell has opened up about embracing her flaws. Sharing an unfiltered bikini shot on Instagram, the best-selling author and former model revealed: “I had always felt trapped in the image I had created for myself and this fear that I had to live up to these unrealistic beauty standards.
“I’m so happy I’ve hit an age/time in my life where I don’t use social media to feed my own ego or need validation off strangers to know my self-worth.”