Society puts a ton of pressure on women to live up to insane body standards. For many celebrities, they’ve had enough of unrealistic expectations from the industries they work in and from the public. Women have been fighting the policing of their bodies forever. In modern American history, the Victorian Dress Reform Movement was one of the first instances of women coming together to end body modification. They fought against corsets and the practice of tightlacing which left lasting damage on their bodies. Victorian tastes at the time dictated that women should have tiny waistlines. The Dress Reform Movement was an attempt to get society to value all body types and sizes and advocate for a woman’s right to appear how she chooses and wear whatever she wants (even pants!).
Today, celebrities, because of their heightened visibility and the platforms they’ve built, are pushing the movement forward by talking about their body struggles, insecurities, and need for acceptance. Acceptance comes in two forms. Self-acceptance and societal acceptance. By sharing untouched photos, telling their stories, and making other empowered choices, celebrities are helping to educate the public about all types of bodies. For many, social media is the battleground for the fight. The anonymity the internet affords has resulted in tons of trolling and shaming. Emboldened haters will slide into the comments section and write whatever negative thing they please. Most of which is aimed at women. Over the past few years, we’ve seen women discuss their individual struggles in order to help others know they’re not alone. Celebrities are effective at both messaging and advocacy for this movement because they’re at a crossroads where their beauty is seen as a commodity by certain industries. This means they’ve experienced a lot of pressure to conform and often that includes making unhealthy decisions or negative thinking. No more! Celebrities are speaking loudly about their own body positivity and the movement at large. Here are 20 major players in the body positivity movement. It takes strength to be vulnerable and many of these celebrities show it every single day.
Author, Model, and TV personality, Chrissy Teigan is not afraid to get real about her post-baby body and how it’s changed. In 2018, shortly after giving birth to her second child, Miles, Teigen famously tweeted a video of her midriff in a bikini. She shared the same video on her Instagram. She captioned the video, “mom bod alert!” Shortly after posting, Teigen updated followers with another tweet writing, “Instagram is crazy. I think it’s awesome people have killer bodies and are proud to show them off (I really do!!) but I know how hard it can be to forget what (for lack of a better word) regular ol’ bodies look like when everyone looks bonkers amazing.”
She added, “Also I don’t really call this ‘body confidence’ because I’m not quite there yet. I’m still super insecure. I’m just happy that I can make anyone else out there feel better about themselves!”
Comedy legend and advocate for women, Amy Poehler created a YouTube series called, “Ask Amy.” In the series, she answers questions on a variety of topics. When asked about body image, Poehler responded:
“[W]e’re all different, everybody’s different, every body is different. There’s only, like, five perfectly symmetrical people in the world, and they’re all movie stars, and they should be, because their faces are very pleasing to look at, but the rest of us are just a jangle of stuff, and the earlier you learn that you should focus on what you have and not obsess about what you don’t have, the happier you will be. You really will be happier in life if you let go of the things that you will never have.”
“I was playing in Wimbledon, and I totally have a stomach. You know? It’s no secret. It is what it is. And I’m proud of my tummy. It pokes out a lot more than it used to, but I’m still coming back from having a baby. I just feel like this whole story about having a baby and then coming back two days after and looking better than before is not teaching the right way or the natural way or the believable way. Like maybe that happened to one person, but let me tell you, that didn’t happen to me.”
Writer and TV producer Lindy West published a memoir in 2016 titled Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. Shortly after, Hulu purchased a show from her called Shrill about a woman’s journey to body-acceptance and the struggles she faces along the way, including online trolls and fat-shaming.
In her memoir, West writes about body-image and her struggles with it. She writes, “The ‘perfect body’ is a lie. I believed in it for a long time, and I let it shape my life, and shrink it—my real life, populated by my real body. Don’t let fiction tell you what to do.”
Musician, Taylor Swift wrote an essay for Elle in 2019. In which, she discusses her body-image struggles. After completing a grueling tour, Swift said she “learned to stop hating every ounce of fat on my body.”
“I worked hard to retrain my brain that a little extra weight means curves, shinier hair, and more energy,” she continued. “I think a lot of us push the boundaries of dieting, but taking it too far can be really dangerous. There is no quick fix. I work on accepting my body every day.”
Comedian and TV personality Nicole Byer is best known for her hilarious hosting skills on the Netflix cooking competition, Nailed It! When she’s not hosting the show, she’s an advocate for self-love and positive body image. Out in May, #VeryFat #VeryBrave: The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini is Byer’s first memoir inspired by a trip she took to Palm Springs with a suitcase full of bikinis.
Byer explained to The Philidelphia Tribune, “Why should I hate [my body]? The world’s going to be you know, negative sometimes about it. I’d rather look in the mirror and like what I see.”
Actor Drew Barrymore got real about not being ashamed of weight gain and “letting go.” In an interview with James Corden, Barrymore described adhering to a strict vegan diet when she’s shooting her show, Santa Clarita Diet. When she’s not working, however, she eats whatever she wants without regret. Apparently, Denzel Washington does the same thing.
She explained, “I heard Denzel Washington does this and I don’t know because I just want to believe it, I don’t want to know it’s not true. But he just enjoys his life and then pulls himself back together when he’s doing movies and looks amazing. So I’m giving it the full ‘Denzel,’ even if that exists or not, and I let myself go.”
Musician Demi Lovato has been very public about her struggles with body image and eating disorders. In an Instagram post last year, she captioned an untouched photo of herself in a bikini with a positive message. She wrote:
“This is my biggest fear. A photo of me in a bikini unedited. And guess what, it’s CELLULITE!!!! 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.”
Comedian and writer, Amy Schumer has been documented life after pregnancy on her Instagram account. Schumer recently posted a photograph of herself on the beach. Fans praised the star for looking so happy and healthy with her family.
She responded to the feedback with some self-love and gratitude for her fans, writing, “I am loving my warm soft post baby body. Grateful to be feeling so strong again!”
A couple of months before giving birth, Graham wrote, “Throughout my pregnancy so far I’ve gained 50lbs. And the best part is, I don’t care! I have never felt better, and I am so thankful that my body and son have allowed me to be as mobile and flexible as I have been.”
Actor and advocate Jameela Jamil is not only a familiar face from the hit TV show, The Good Place. She’s also an active member of the body-positive movement. She founded the advocacy group, I Weigh with the goal of “radical inclusivity.”
In 2018, Jamil did a photoshoot for Arcadia and she made the magazine promise to not retouch or photoshop out her stretch marks. She tweeted about the experience, writing, “Embrace thine stretch marks. They are nothing to be ashamed of or cover up or edit out.”
When she was doing press for Bridesmaids, someone asked her, “Are you shocked that you actually work in this business at your tremendous size?” McCarthy told InStyle that at the time she thought, “With my tremendous size, I could tackle you so quickly.”
She noted a double standard adding, “It happens all the time, to the point where it’s fascinating because they don’t do it to men. Not to be a jerk or single him out, but when John Goodman was heavier, did anybody ever talk about his girth?”
Musician and TV personality Kelly Clarkson has had to deal with a fair share of body-shaming over the years. She ran into a little controversy after Self magazine published a cover photo of her that had been photoshopped to make her look thinner. The kicker? It was Self’s “Body Confidence” issue.
Clarkson spoke about the industry and her experience, saying, “Everyone in the magazines is Photoshopped! Beyoncé is one of the most beautiful girls in the world but she gets Photoshopped too. We’re all human! … It affected me when people were saying about me and some other artists that we were the ‘thicker’ ones. I’d be a liar if I said I was always fine with it. But I’m wise enough by now to know that you’re never going to please everyone so you may as well stop trying.”
Actor and singer Kristen Bell is not only insanely talented, but she’s also extremely vocal about body-shaming and the pressures in the industry to be the “perfect weight.” After seeing a picture of herself in a tabloid, the star had the following reaction:
“I recently saw a picture of myself in a bikini in [a tabloid magazine], and they circled some bumps on my bottom and said, ‘We didn’t see any cellulite when Kristen was filming Forgetting Sarah Marshall.’ I looked at the picture, and I laughed so hard! I thought, I look good — really fit. Who cares if there are lumps on my thighs? I’m guilty of having human legs made up of fat, muscle and skin, and sometimes when you sit, they get bumpy! If I had not been a normal weight, they would’ve said, ‘Oh, she’s way too skinny.’”
Additionally, online trolls tried to body-shame her and she responded by explaining, “I am not a woman whose self-worth comes from her dress size. The comparison is one long, agonizing death and does interest me at all.”
Actor and TV personality, Busy Philipps is really, really good at Instagram. Her Insta game is just really on point. So, it was no surprise when someone tried to body-shame her in the comments, she shut it down.
Philips posted an Instagram photo of herself at the gym, writing, “My workout every morning makes me feel awesome.” One Instagram troll commented, “Ughhhhh, you’re rolls are showing.” Philips replied, “I feel like a man of your age should know the difference between your and you’re. Your is possessive, as in, ‘Your rolls are showing.’ (Get it? The rolls belong to me.)”
Comedian, actor, writer, and TV producer Mindy Kaling is one of the funniest people working in television. But, she gave an interview where she cautioned people about the use of the word “confidence” and asking how one finds it.
Kaling told Parade magazine, “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well-meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”
Model and role model, Iskra Lawrence spreads awareness about eating disorders as an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. She’s an advocate for the importance of showing physical imperfections and real representations of human bodies. Meaning, women shouldn’t be photoshopped because it perpetuates impossible beauty standards.
“To me, unretouched and raw images always make me feel more connected to the subject. I feel like I’m truly seeing them,” she said on Instagram.
Filmmaker, Lena Dunham has been famously open about her body and images of her nude populate the projects she works on. This is no different for Dunham’s social media.
She recently posted a nude photo to her Instagram, with the caption, “Any negativity that comes your way is just an excuse to love yourself even more, right? Comment below with a reason you love yourself.”
The caption is a call to action to generate body positivity.
Superstar singer Adele has frequently dealt with negative comments about her weight since she stepped into stardom in 2008. She has said that she makes music for “people’s ears, not eyes,” but that doesn’t mean she’s not affected by the negative comments.
In Adele: The Biography, she shared, “I’ve always been a size 14 to 16 and been fine with it. I would only lose weight if it affected my health or sex life which it doesn’t.”
Queen Beyoncé even has to deal with negative comments about her body, most notably after her Super Bowl 50 performance. Haters took to Twitter to comment that the star had put on some weight and was looking “heavy.” Unsurprisingly, Beyoncé dealt with the negative commentary with her signature grace.
As she told Shape about the song “Bootylicious,” “The pressure that people put you under, the pressure to be thin, is unbelievable. I was just 18 and you shouldn’t be thinking about that. You should be thinking about building up your character and having fun, and the song was just telling everyone to forget what people are saying, you’re bootylicious. It’s a celebration of curves and a celebration of women’s bodies.”
Even the most famous and powerful women in the entertainment industry have to put up with ridiculous body-shaming and a sad double standard. We’re so proud of each of these 20 women for standing up to the haters and instead of letting the hate get to them, deciding to love themselves. Every body is beautiful.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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