Learning to love your body can be an incredible feat. The older we get, the harder it seems to be to keep up with societal standards. Aging can come with a variety of side effects that cause us to feel inferior. Fashion magazines sport images of extremely thin figures whose bodies have gone through the Photoshop machine one too many times. Stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles, freckles and more are digitally removed to show an image of what makes perfection. We flip through the pages and sigh as we view what we’ve been brainwashed to believe is admirable.

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But while there are plenty of stories of models being told their already svelte bodies are too big for runways and actresses that they’re too big for parts (not to mention the silent operation of removing flaws with technology), there is an incredible movement happening that seeks to provide awareness of this problem, and to move past it entirely, living in a world where all bodies of all shapes and sizes and with many different “flaws” are considered normal.

Taking a Stand

What we need in our world is people to look up to; to be the change we seek to see. When people take a stand against over-editing, against being called too fat or too skinny, amongst a number of other insults, it’s a powerful thing.

As a content researcher, I have been incredibly inspired lately by the amount of people fighting back. While it seems that no time has been wasted in dishing out detrimental comments in the form of bullying, online or otherwise, it seems that many people are coming forward in hopes that their experiences, and their feelings on the matter, can make a change.

The Fighters

Having a voice in today’s world is much easier than it ever used to be. Social media has created a plethora of platforms to make this happen. And while the harsh comments continue to roll in, so do the fighters; those who refuse to let anyone or anything decide what is right for them and their body. Here are five to feel inspired by.

1. Megan Ellis and Taryn Sisco

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These fitness instructors stand up to body shaming.
Photo: Today

These ladies are the co-managers of Barre East Fitness Studio. They received a disheartening newspaper clipping in the mail. The studio had recently been featured in a local newspaper, so when Ellis came upon the piece of mail, she assumed it was a friend congratulating them. To her dismay, it was something far less kind. What the ladies did receive was their clipping covered in hateful messages. “You are fat, bordering on obese,” wrote one comment pointing to Ellis.  “You are overweight,” wrote another comment pointing to Taryn.

This is how the duo responded:

Standing up to body shaming.

Photo: Self

2. Kate Allan

This illustrator came out with a series of GIFS this fall to promote self-love and body positivity in a time when we need it most, and when people are willing to listen the most. Her animated illustrations feature women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Each illustration comes complete with a beautiful message. From “I am amazing just as I am!” to “Confidence looks good on you!” and “The number on the scale does not define me,” they represent an inspiring and innovative way to promote the beauty of self-love.

Kate Allan's message about body positivity.

“I think it’s important for women to appreciate everything that’s beautiful about themselves,” Allan said to The Huffington Post. “What’s often represented in the media is a very narrow interpretation of beauty — thin, long legs, glowing skin. And while it’s obvious why that’s attractive, that archetype isn’t the only beauty worth noting and flaunting.”

3. Sjana Earp

This Australian model, vlogger, and Instagram sensation has quite a few followers listening to and watching her every word and movement as she trots the globe and dishes out advice. But being in the spotlight comes with a price, especially when social media is your main source of representing yourself career wise. When you’re a social media influencer, you’re allowing yourself to be exposed to intense scrutiny from others. But that doesn’t make it okay, and when Sjana was sick of receiving countless comments on social media that called her too skinny, gross, or even told her she needed to eat a sandwich, she decided to stand up for both herself and for anyone else who may be dealing with a similar situation.
Models fights back against body shamers.

“I am so much more than a body — I know that. I am not defined by numbers OR by other peoples opinions of me,” she captioned an Instagram photo. “And the body I have, as imperfect or ‘skinny’ or ‘gross’ as people may think it is, is MY imperfect body. And I am happy with it despite their irrelevant opinions.. My imperfect body helps me to move, travel, explore, play, and even hug people.. To me, that makes it beautiful. My body is natural and unmanipulated – that to me means that nothing about it can be ‘wrong’… We don’t look at a landscape and criticise the shape of a valley or the size of a mountain do we? So why are we so quick to judge other natural things like the human figure?”

4. Chrissy Teigen

Celebrity stands up to body shaming.
Source: A Plus
Chrissy Teigen is a famous model, a TV show co-host, and wife to singer John Legend. Being in the spotlight like she is comes with a lot of pressure to look a certain way. But this beauty isn’t afraid to show her ‘flaws.’ Earlier this year, Teigen shared an image of herself on Instagram that would do much more than have fans hitting the ‘like’ button and moving on. The image, which focused on her stretch marks, came with a caption that read: “Bruises from bumping kitchen drawer handles for a week. Stretchies say hi!” The response was overwhelming, with women from all walks of life posting similar photos with the incredibly empowering hashtag #LoveYourLines.
5. Rachele Cateyes
This is artist stands up to body shaming.

Rachele Cateyes is an artist, author, and activist who, as a visual artist, creates drawings surrounding the theme of body positivity. Her images range from slightly sweet to bravely blunt.

This is artist stands up to body shaming.
Source: Buzzfeed
This is artist stands up to body shaming.
Source: Buzzfeed

One of her biggest messages is that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and just because one might be bigger than the other doesn’t mean they can’t both practice healthy living. “By just existing as fat people, we are told that we’re glorifying or promoting obesity. We are harassed under the guise of ‘being concerned for our health,’ ” the artist began. “The reflex is to explain how ‘good’ we actually are. We engage in healthy behaviors, have loving partners, and will somehow earn the right to be humans.”

There are, undoubtedly, people of all shapes, sizes, and career paths taking part in this body positivity movement in a variety of ways. The overall hope seems to be that we will find a healthy way to view ourselves and each other. What do you think of this movement, and are there any people who inspire you most?

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