Photo: Nathan Congleton (Getty Images)
As we near the end of another decade, there’s a major turn of events our generation can proudly put its stamp on: body positivity within the modeling industry.
Arguably one of the most abusive and unfair industries in existence, modeling has been long overdue for a big shift. Thanks to the women below, we’re not just seeing an Ashley Graham-type model every blue moon, but an entire takeover of different body types, genders, and fighters who are smashing stereotypes around what it means to be beautiful.
If there’s one trend we love going into 2019, it’s that of models who aren’t afraid to show the world their true beauty are more popular than ever. Below are just a small handful of primary body-positive influencers worth following.
An amputee model who, according to People, continues to inspire kids with prosthetics at Shriners Hospital by being a counselor and mentor.
Denise is a plus-sized model and activist who is credited for helping to start the no-Photoshop movement. She’s happy to show off her bare stomach, including stretch marks and cellulite with no retouching whatsoever.
This Paralympic athlete doesn’t let anything stop her from achieving her athletic dreams. McFadden has garnered 17 medals, including a win at the 2018 Boston Marathon.
Gaither doesn’t look like your stereotypical coach but she’s a master SoulCycle instructor and dancer who also started a non-profit called Movemeant Foundation, which fundraises to promote body positivity and athletic scholarships.
Here’s another body-positive role model who’s more than just an Instagram celebrity. Kimmey has also started a non-profit called Girlphoria, whose mission is solely to empower young women.
View this post on Instagram
As I began to share my top 9 posts of 2018 last night, I got through about four posts and realized that the rest of the moments that had gotten the most “likes” weren’t necessarily my favorite moments of the year. And it made me think – that’s what happens in life, too. We get into this cycle of performing. We have a desire to be liked, and worthy and valuable…and most of the time we measure that by some number (likes, pounds, money etc). But when we live our lives trying to please others, trying to be validated by others, living for the acceptance of others—- then we aren’t living for ourselves. My favorite moments didn’t happen in these little curated squares. They happened in the chaos, in between the picture perfect moments, in the cracks of life when no one else is watching. They were the late night hot tub convos with my hubby, the nights that I couldn’t sleep bc I had so many ideas running through my head, watching my son help his sister after she broke her arm, seeing my husband rise above adversity time and time again. They were in the quiet moments I spent talking to God and seeing His works unfold before my eyes, in the joy of every day life, in the thousands of messages I received from women and girls expressing their gratitude, in laughing at failures and finding strength in lessons learned, in overcoming my fears, and in making lifelong plans with my hubby. The year ahead is one of growth. Blooming. And firmly planting myself right where I am. The seeds have been planted, and I’m ready for the water and the sunshine to lift me higher. Here’s to 2019. May we live for us, and just DO us, every single day. Happy New Year babes! Xoxo Allie
She lost her leg at the age of nine due to cancer and is now a model because “people don’t often look as they do in photographs.” Yes, Ms. Quinn, you are awesome.
Harlow is a former America’s Next Top Model contestant who has a skin condition called vitiligo, which causes sections of her skin to lose pigment. She hasn’t let her condition stop her from conquering her dreams.
Lee is one of the faces of Lane Bryant who also made history as the first black plus-size model in Vogue.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by PRECIOUS LEE (@preciousleexoxo) on
Lawrence has helped lead an “un-retouched” campaign, has been a Self magazine contributor, and has been an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. She also undressed in a subway in New York City to promote body positivity.
This marathon finisher and model created a movement called @PSYouGotThis, meant to help inspire people of all sizes to take up running.
Stanley is a body-positive model quickly gaining an impressive following who is also a fantastic yoga instructor.
How many 100-year-olds do you know? How many do you know that are experts at yoga? Porchon-Lynch still serves an inspiration to every generation. One of her favorite mantras is, “This is going to be the best day of my life.”
She may be a person with a disability, but she doesn’t her disability define her.
View this post on Instagram
I am not an inspiration because I am a disabled person. I am not brave, I do not endure or suffer and I am absolutely not an inspiration. When you say those things, you make my life & in turn my body less worthy than yours. Your good health is a privilege. But that doesn’t in turn make my body somehow unfortunate or undesirable. Saying you couldn’t battle what I do suggests that a) I possess something you don’t (I don’t) or that b) living in my own skin is so horrifically unbearable you need super powers in order to manage it. I realise that feels to you like a compliment, that it comes from a place of kindness, a compliment, but it is insulting. In reality many won’t have any idea of what it is like to live the life I have lived in an impaired body, so your frame of reference for what might or might not be difficult is both limited & likely impacted upon by what the media have told you about my life as a cripple (similar to how you’ve been told you have to look as a woman, and we’ve all agreed that’s bullshit, right?) My body is more than my impairment, it’s more than any perceived limitations. Suggesting I’m inspiring due to a blip in my genetic code means that everything I have worked for as a person is worthless & that my impaired body is the only part of me anyone sees. I want to inspire you because I write powerfully & love radically. I want to encourage you because I am an ally in this political movement. I want to be seen as a critical thinking with important messages. So be aware, when you repost disabled bodies, when you talk about us in comments, when you praise us. We don’t want to be your inspiration porn we want to be noticed, acknowledged & appreciated for what we offer as people
Bullied because of her facial hair, Kaur has polycystic ovarian syndrome, which causes a hormone imbalance. It’s her condition that leads to growing a full beard. However, Kaur embraced her body as a teenager and hasn’t looked back. She even led a Ted Talk last spring.
Instead of conforming to an unhealthy weight, Karlsson listened to her body and joined the plus-size movement, embracing her real, natural, beautiful body.
Susanna battled eating disorders before embracing her body. Now she uses her story to inspire others, saying “life is too short to spend it at war with your body.”
We know her as Taystee on Orange Is The New Black, but Brooks is also an open book on social media, posting about her struggles with self-esteem and her confidence. She’s also just as open about her victories, running her first Spartan Race last year.
It’s clear that people crave other people who are “real.” We hope this celebration of people who aren’t afraid to be themselves isn’t just a trend, but a movement that sticks for good.