Women have always had it rough when it comes to their bodies. We are critiqued and criticized constantly no matter what we do. If we look too thin, we get accused of having eating disorders. If we look too big, we are plainly called out, no matter what our circumstances are. Nothing is taken into consideration, like height, bone density, muscle, or just plain old genes. Thankfully, it’s 2016 and people are tired of putting up with stereotypes. Women, even men, are starting to embrace the fact that women come in all shapes and sizes. Beauty is no longer defined by some unrealistic standard, or by what the current fashion models look like in magazines. Beauty and body size are both being celebrated for individuality and uniqueness. It’s a shame it has taken this long, but better late than never! These 15 celebrities have been leading the way, and we should all feel empowered by their efforts.
15 Lena Dunham
She’s a girl who’s not a size 2. She runs around naked on the set of her show, Girls. And, she’s often photographed with no makeup, wearing whatever the hell she wants. Though she has been judged and bullied because of this, she thinks it’s more important to be who she is rather than who everybody else wants her to be. She would rather show the world that she is not perfect. Her body confidence has definitely inspired women to embrace their own body types. In the 25th anniversary of Marie Claire, she said, “My parents both have really healthy attitudes about their own bodies but also about the range of things that can be beautiful.” She goes on to state that she would look at her body in the mirror as a kid and tell herself just how beautiful she was. Looks like her positive affirmations worked out well for her!
14 Iskra Lawrence
Iskra is an English size 10 model who has gained millions of followers on Instagram. You might have heard Iskra’s name in the news lately as she just made her NYFW debut on the runway, something that made her cry with joy. Iskra has said that she was often bullied because of her weight, with strangers shaming her online. Model agencies would not give her a chance because they said her body didn’t look like the other models, and designers were only booking sample size (2). She's definitely had to fight to make her dreams a reality, just like so many women around the world. Once she got over her insecurities, and the opinions of others, she started posting photos of herself in bikinis and lingerie to her social media platforms. All of her photos are unretouched and she also stars in Aerie’s campaigns as a model who is proud to be who she is, flaws and all.
13 Emma Watson
You may forever know her as Hermoine from the Harry Potter series. But the actor is actually very different in real life. Emma is a self-proclaimed feminist and activist. In 2014, she gave an empowering speech at the U.N. Headquarters in NYC talking about how women should be treated equally and have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies. She also famously said that she was taking a year away from acting to focus on her own personal development. When you hear Emma talk, you feel empowered. There are too many young girls in Hollywood who just follow the crowd, afraid to speak up. Unfortunately, those girls are usually unhappy and cause admirers to imitate their unhealthy ideals. Emma Watson is different. She is a confident woman who embraces her femininity without fear. If we can learn something from Emma, it’s that all women are special. Once we start accepting that, we can learn to embrace not only our bodies but also our minds and spirits.
12 Ashley Graham
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit put Ashley on the map this year as its first “plus-size” model to grace the cover. But Ashley is much more than a model. First and foremost, she is an outspoken woman who absolutely loves her body. Ashley is another model who has talked extensively about being rejected from parts of the modeling world because of her size. So she took matters into her own hands declaring that she loves her body no matter what. She was determined to change the modeling industry by getting agents to book her for jobs they said she couldn’t do. Now, Ashley is posing in bikinis and lingerie for some of the top brands in the world. In the October 2016 issue of Self Magazine, she says, “I’m trying to change how women think about themselves. Some people just don’t get it — I’ve been denied jobs because I was too big. I’ve also been denied jobs because I was too small,” she explained. “At the end of the day, I’m never going to conform to what anybody wants. This is my body; I’m happy in it.” Looks like Ashley is having the last laugh.
11 Jennifer Lawrence
There’s no way to not like Jennifer Lawrence. She’s a strong, talented, working woman who’s at the top of her industry. If you didn’t hear, last year she ranked as the top paid actress in Hollywood thanks to her movies, like The Hunger Games series where she plays a bada$$ woman named Katniss. And in real life, she just happens to support other women, no matter if they are famous or not. She publicly refused to lose weight for a movie role, even though she had been bullied by people in her industry. In an interview with Barbara Walters in 2013, she said, “I just think it should be illegal to call someone big on TV. Because why is humiliating people funny?” Even though she is known for her “normal” body type, she thinks it’s because Hollywood is too used to seeing underweight actresses. It's hard to be as young as Jennifer and still be so vocal about what she believes in. She deserves praise for using her platform to change society norms.
Why does everyone love Adele so much? Yes, she has an incredible voice that is so unique and powerful, but she also doesn’t look like every other young singer in the POP music world today. It’s refreshing to know that women of any size can become incredibly successful. Adele has major talent, plus she is confident in her own skin. She also rocks vintage 60s styles that everyone wants to imitate. I don't think there's anyone who can do a cat-eye better than Adele. And talk about that hair. Adele talks about her body image in interviews at will, and always says that of course she has insecurities, but she doesn’t let them rule her life. She told Sirius radio,"And there's bigger issues going on in the world than how I feel about myself and stuff like that... There's only one of you, so why would you want to look like anyone else?" So true, Adele. SO true.
9 Gabourey Sidibe
Gabby is fierce and there’s no denying it. Her fun-loving sarcasm can make anyone want to be besties with her. But the best part of Gabby is that she doesn’t hide her body because she’s not the typical Hollywood size. And that’s why she is successful. Just take a look at some of her famous quotes: “One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl. I wear colors that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps. It doesn't have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see.” And, “I learned to love myself, because I sleep with myself every night and I wake up with myself every morning, and if I don't like myself, there's no reason to even live the life.” And then there’s the best one, “I love the way I look. I'm fine with it. And if my body changes, I'll be fine with that.” Short. Simple. Inspiring.
8 Christian Siriano
Yes, there’s a man on this list! Men believe in women empowerment too. At least the men who have some common sense. If you don't know who Christian is, he won the fourth season of Project Runway and has been an influencer in the fashion world ever since. He has dressed everyone from Nicki Minaj to Rihanna to Sarah Jessica Parker. This summer, when comedienne and SNL cast member Leslie Jones said that no designer wanted to dress her for the Ghostbusters movie premiere because she wasn’t a size 0, Christian immediately stepped in and designed a beautiful red dress for her because he said he believes in creating beautiful outfits for women of all sizes. He really practiced what he preached again this NYFW when he booked 5 plus-size models for his runway show, much to the astonishment of the crowd. Way to go, Christian. Fashion is fun, but only if it includes everyone.
7 Amy Schumer
She’s friends with Jennifer Lawrence…so no words are needed about how down to earth Amy Schumer must be. But, in all seriousness, Amy talks about her body frequently. She recently did an interview where she said she lost weight for her movie role in Trainwreck because it was explained to her that if “you weigh over 140 pounds as a woman in Hollywood, if you’re on the screen it will hurt people’s eyes.” But she promised that she would never lose weight again for a role and she has been quite outspoken over the outrageous standards that society expects of women. In an interview with Lena Dunham for Lenny Letter, she stated, “I think it's unfortunate that we still live in a time and a country where normal isn't good enough. The media body-shames women of healthy, normal sizes. That's why I spoke up about the plus-size thing. Because plus size, unfortunately, still, does have a negative connotation." It’s true, but it’s changing. Thanks for standing up for women of all shapes and sizes, Amy.
6 Demi Lovato
Demi has talked about her body struggles for years. Google her name and you will probably see an article or an interview pop up about it immediately. Just because Demi is famous doesn’t make her any less immune to the nasty comments of others. In 2012, she sent out a tweet stating that most models are thinner than 98 percent of Americans and urged people to stop trying to change their bodies to fit what they see in the magazines, and instead try to change our culture. Since then, she has been an advocate for eating healthy and embracing one’s individual body. We can all relate to Demi. She’s been outspoken about her mental health issues, such as depression and eating disorders. By revealing her own struggles, she has helped many others to realize that they are not alone and can get help as well. She also reminded us that you can still be sexy without a thigh gap.
5 Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is a beautiful woman, but she didn’t always feel that way. 10 years ago she was at a very different place, telling Access Hollywood that at that time she "spent so much time sort of hating myself and being really, really critical about myself." Growing up in Alabama, she was harassed in school, bullied, and called names constantly. People constantly told her that her dreams would never come true. But now she says, "I think a lot about being a kid in Alabama, growing up and being chased home from school every day, bullied and called names, but I had big dreams then. And so for many, many years, people told me that I could not live those dreams that it was not possible, because of who I am." But now, after embracing who she believes is her true self, she has not only risen to fame but done it so gracefully and has inspired many other transgender people to love and embrace their bodies. Laverne even made the cover of Time Magazine. Enough said.
4 Dascha Polanco
You probably know Dascha from the widely popular show, Orange Is The New Black. In fact, she's one of the main and best characters on the show! But Dascha has been working her butt off for years trying to break into the movie industry, and of course dealing with many hurdles along the way. But we are so glad she did because she has been displaying her woman power ever since. By doing so, she is paving the way for celebrities and us regular folk to embrace our curves, and hopefully, change our culture of believing skinnier is sexier. She recently said, “Even though I'm a size 8 or 10, I still can look as great as someone who's a size 0. This is why I work out; I'm making sure my body looks how I want it to look so that I'm confident enough to wear a transparent catsuit or show skin." Lately, she has been experimenting with showing off her full thighs on the red carpet. Go girl!
3 Bridget Malcolm
Bridget is a successful model who has been in the industry for years, working with brands such as Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger. She is also a Victoria’s Secret model, but she pretty much looks flawless all the time! Bridget is known for being a vegan and is proud to show off her exercising routines, meals, and selfies on Instagram. She promotes living a healthy lifestyle, which she believes promotes body positivity. Last fall, however, Bridget was accused by many online as being too thin and anorexic. Her response in a post was, “Can we STOP with the skinny shaming, please? I am extremely fit and healthy and am not in the slightest way anorexic. I have worked hard to look like this and am proud of my body. I may not be the curviest but I am a woman who has every right to look the way I do. Maybe today take a look inside yourself and wonder why you feel the need to shame strangers over the Internet about their bodies. Peace and love to you all - let's change the conversation.” Bridget is so right. If we are trying to empower women to embrace their bodies, that means women of ALL sizes.
2 Kendall Jenner
Kendall has recently become one of the most popular models in the industry. She is literally everywhere--every magazine, every gossip column, every campaign. Yes, she did get her start on reality TV through her famous sisters, the Kardashians, but Kendall earned her stripes by working hard in the modeling industry from a young age, probably before many knew she was trying to become a successful model. It’s no surprise that young girls admire her and all her success. Just like Bridget, Kendall said, “'I’m trying to gain weight but my body won’t let it happen. What people don't understand is that calling someone too skinny is the same as calling someone too fat, it's not a nice feeling.” Kendall is another role model for girls who have a similar physique. You may be tall and skinny naturally, but guess what, that’s OK too. You are still normal. You are still a woman. You are still beautiful.
No surprise here. If there is a lady who empowers women to embrace their bodies, sexuality, and gender, it is Beyoncé. Through her music and performances, she has inspired women all over the world to feel comfortable in their own skin. Whether it is watching her confident attitude, or singing along to her songs, we feel innately connected with Beyoncé. A fierce, modern feminist, Beyoncé has said that she writes songs that she thinks women need to hear. This includes lyrics on how women should feel empowered being women, in the many different forms that they take. Thin, curvy, tall, short… Beyoncé makes us all feel like it is OK to be different. In fact, she magically makes us want to be different. Now, there is an idea for the future. Let’s not all try to be the same. Let’s all find ways we can be different. Stand out. Stand proud.