We’ve come a long way since fashion’s size-zero obsession dominated magazine covers and runways globally. While there will always be a need for mainstream editorial beauty standards to represent more diverse forms of beauty, we’re happy that there have been huge strides towards challenging the norms and celebrating aesthetics that may have been previously overlooked, so called body positivity.
Now that the summer has officially begun, we thought that there was no better time to share five of our favorite influencers whose sheer fearlessness and self-belief make them champions in the rapidly growing body positivity revolution. It’s important that we shine a light on this issue so that we can help to break down prejudices in a world where everyone deserves to be accepted – no matter how they look, love or identify.
Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga instructor, writer and body positivity advocate who has amassed a following of over 400,000 Instagram followers since beginning to share her yoga journey with the world. As a plus-size woman of color, Jessamyn is the perfect role model for men and women who can’t relate to the standard narrative of beauty that has saturated media for decades.
Photo credit: Jessamyn Stanley
The body positivity movement is essentially rooted in the belief that people should not only accept but love themselves for who they are no matter their physical appearances or limitations. It’s through yoga that Jessamyn feels this message is best exemplified.
“I feel like yoga is body positive because it’s saying you don’t need to be concerned about what other people think of you,” Stanley said in a Guardian expose. Whether it’s through her writing, her motivational Instagram posts or recently released yoga app, Jessamyn’s message is an essential one for the modern day.
Photo credit: Farina Opoku
Through her Novalanalove brand, German influencer Farina Opoku has earned a reputation for her honest lifestyle and beauty advice as well as her proud standing in the body positivity movement.
She frequently posts motivational messages to her 1 million adoring fans and is not afraid to show that it’s better to eat what you want and enjoy life than to starve and stress to achieve an unrealistic look.
Opoku has even recently gone on to launch her own online store for her fashion designs, sharing the best of her unique style in more inclusive shapes and sizes.
Photo credit: Winnie Harlow
Gaining attention as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, Canadian model Winnie Harlow is also a spokesperson for bringing awareness to her skin condition vitiligo. Since her discovery, she has been the face of Italian brand Diesel’s spring/summer campaign, modeled in commercials for Swarovski and even featured in Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade.
Her success and confidence despite her perceived ‘difference’ are what make Harlow such an important public personality. Through her Instagram feed, she shows off a life that is in no way different from that of any other model in the limelight, whether it’s being a brand ambassador or partying at Coachella.
“I loved myself,” she is quoted as saying. “And with that, opportunities started to fall in my lap and I thank God for all of them. Try loving yourself.”
Photo credit: Zach Miko
As IMG Agency’s first plus-sized model, Zach Miko has sparked conversations worldwide on men’s body image issues in particular. He first gained recognition after appearing as Target’s first ‘big-and-tall’ male model, and since then has been a trailblazer in the body positivity movement.
When he’s not modeling, acting and writing columns for big men’s fashion blog Chubstr, Mikos is also the host of “Big Things”, a podcast where he interviews positive, diverse, and inclusive guests that are not only doing important things in their careers but in their communities too.
The effect of unrealistic beauty standards can often be overlooked for males, but with June being Men’s Mental Health month, there’s no better time to re-ignite the conversation on how men’s physical insecurities can lead to eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. We truly recommend following the work of Zach Miko for relatable and empowering messages on this pressing issue.
Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobrow
There may be no one on this list who has had to overcome adversity quite like Kaitlyn Dobrow. At age 18, Dobrow was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, resulting in the amputation of all four limbs. Rather than surrendering to her hardships, Kaitlyn went on to build a loyal following on Instagram and YouTube, where she offers life updates and makeup tutorials.
It isn’t just her knowledge that keeps fans returning, but her kind, feisty, spirited personality. Her commitment to her craft hasn’t been unnoticed by brands too, as her tutorials have since gone on to earn her sponsorship deals with companies like Covergirl and Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
By showing the world that she is in no way defined or limited by her disability, Kaitlyn Dobrow has inspired her followers that your dreams are achievable if you work hard at them. If there’s anything to take from the body positivity movement, it’s this exact truth – that if you learn to love your body, you can lead a much happier, fulfilling life.
We hope that you’ve been inspired to celebrate your body this summer and beyond by these five amazing Instagrammers. Life’s too short to stress about what others think about you, so stay strong on your journey to self-love and surround yourself with positivity. We’ve got your back.