When I was pregnant with my first baby, a friend cautioned me, “listen, right after birth you’re going to look like a deflated balloon and you’ll think you’re doomed to look that way forever, but trust me: it isn’t permanent”. She was right (on both fronts: yes, I looked like a deflated balloon, and yes, it went away). As my due date with my second approached, I readied myself for the changes ahead, assuming they would also be short-lived. Maybe subsequent pregnancies have a cumulative effect on the body, or it is the fact that this was a “geriatric” pregnancy, but it seems this time around, things weren’t bouncing back so quickly.
And it really bummed me out.
At a time when body positivity messaging is omnipresent and self-acceptance inspiration is finally mainstream, I’m struggling to admit that I miss my pre-baby body.
Years ago, magazines and tabloid sites were full of horrible sanctimonious criticism of celebrities and who got their post-baby body back the quickest. It felt awful to watch the physical toll of motherhood be reduced to such pettiness. And sure, that commentary still exists, but there’s also a brilliant and powerful body-positive counterculture, stunning women who wear their stretch marks like beautiful badges of honor. If these responses to post-pregnancy body imagery are on opposite ends of a spectrum, I struggled with where to put myself. It prompted me to ask some uncomfortable questions: Was I a lesser feminist for missing how my clothes fit before I had children? Was I shallow for wanting to devote some of my very limited time trying to claw back a bit of my old self? How much of my motivations are rooted in health versus vanity? And, at my deepest, most insecure self, I wondered whether “good” mothers still care about their appearance or is that also sacrificed at the altar of motherhood?
Beauty, as they say, is skin deep. The changes that I readied myself for were swift. Soon after delivery, I went from pregnancy glow to oh no. In a matter of days, my forehead looked like a blotchy spray tan gone bad. After scrubbing it raw with a washcloth and then eventually turning to concealer, I sought out the help of a dermatologist who said the culprit is likely pregnancy mask, ie., melasma. For some, melasma can be caused by a myriad of factors and is chronic. For others, it will disappear on its own months after pregnancy, along with the line running down one’s stomach in pregnancy, linea nigra, another hallmark of pregnancy hyperpigmentation. Time is the deciding factor in whether or not it is chronic. Short of getting in a time machine and seeing what the future holds for my skin, I just try to ignore it. You read that right: I literally try to ignore the upper third of my face when looking in the mirror. Instead, I gaze upon the plump, perfect little faces of my children, so full of promise and collagen.
I thoroughly enjoyed two pregnancy’s worth of bombshell hair but know that it is a good time, not a long time. After giving birth, 40 weeks of good hair days went down the drain (literally), like a ginkgo tree dropping its leaves.
Hairstylist and salon owner Jason Lee explains that hair has a natural life cycle which includes both a growth stage (anogen phase) and a shedding phase (exogen phase). “Pregnant women experience a continual anogen phase where they describe their hair feeling thicker and fuller and growing longer than usual”, Lee says. While nothing can speed up how quickly hair grows, I can’t pull off the cool mom top knot, so I invested in a very, very good haircut that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve given up. It feels, I don’t know, almost French? With the hair situation under control, imagine my delight when my eyelashes and eyebrows started falling out, too. I don’t wear a lot of makeup and feel oddly naked without lashes and brows.
The cause of this is the exogen/anogen cycle back on its bullshit. Ashley Woodroffe founded Extra Goodie lash serum after her own experience of motherhood set her on a path for clean ingredients. “Eyebrows and lashes go through the same type of growth cycles and can also be impacted by the new balance of hormones that comes with having a baby,” she explains. Aging compounds this, as growth phases naturally decrease and the diameter of hair shafts shrinks. With a lens on clean, non-synthetic ingredients, Woodroffe created a serum to give hair follicles the nutrients they need to yield thicker, longer lashes. Would age eventually rob us all of our lashes and brows, with motherhood simply fast-tracking the process? Maybe, but this feels like a very low-stakes, potentially high-return situation. Gimme the serums, please and thank you.
In addition to once having fairly good if not low-maintenance skin and hair, I used to enjoy the metabolism of a hummingbird. Two children later, my once-athletic build now looks like Mr. Burns: rounded back and shoulders, in a permanent hunch. I saw a chiropractor and acupuncturist with a focus on perinatal care, Dr Aliya Visram, who assured me this is common, albeit uncomfortable. “Pregnancy strains joints and shifts one’s center of gravity, causing rounded shoulders, a tucked-in pelvis (or flat bum) and a hunched neck”, she explains. Then of course, after the baby arrives, the hunching continues as we feed, hold, change and wear them.
My posture is a hill that I’m willing to die on. I feel like my joints are made of concrete when I’m sedentary and exercise is the cornerstone of my postpartum mental health. I’ve resolved to move my body, in any way that I can, every day. It won’t exactly wind back the clock, but it goes a long way for boosting my mood. Plus, I want to role model an active lifestyle to my kids.
Ah, right. My kids. The family that I wanted so badly that I feel guilty for wanting to replace one lost hair on my head because I love them so fiercely. There is no hiding that motherhood has impacted every part of my life, including what I see in the mirror. Mirrors, however, don’t always tell the truth. I met Karmen LaMer, founder of The Tight Clinic. We both had cancer as young women and talked about the dichotomy of never being more grateful for your body and health, whilst also being accurately aware of bodies inevitably change (and not always in ways that we like). She points to Forma as a very effective treatment to rebuild collagen, which she credits with replenishing her own skin after cancer treatment. “I exhausted EVERY technology, the risk of complications from some are scary as fuck. For Forma, there’s no pain, no downtime and no risk – effective as rebuilding collagen anywhere in the body, particularly for firming the face and tightening tummy tissue after pregnancy,” says LeMer. FORMA EVERY INCH OF ME, I was thinking as she spoke. She delivers her dose of optimism with a chaser of realism. Sure, some treatments can help with some things here or there, but she’s often left asking women what’s really behind their motivations for certain treatments or procedures. She sadly sees many women who have developed dysphoric relationships with their appearance. She would rather turn away potential customers than perpetuate unhealthy self-imagery. “This industry is happy to take women’s money and promise them results they can’t deliver. I have integrity and am honest about what a treatment can and can’t do”, explains LaMer.
When it comes down to it, am I losing sleep over a thinner ponytail or curvier body? Heck no. I don’t have any of that to spare (no, literally, I need every minute of sleep I can get). I’ve decided to enter the next phase grateful for the miraculous work that my body’s done, and with a heaping dose of reality about what changes will unearth pieces of the old me. If I thought it was so horrible to see celebrities’ bodies picked apart for how they look on the beach after having a baby, why would I ever do that to myself? Now more than ever, I see that getting to know my postpartum body is a perfect metaphor for motherhood: being uncomfortable and never more confident at the same time.
Image: Brat Co / Stockys.com
The Kardashians have been getting praised for doing the bare minimum for years, what with the rampant appropriation and the dry, overpriced lip kits that net them billion-dollar companies and the reality show that hasn’t been interesting in years and the… no you’re right I’ll stop, otherwise we’ll be here for hours. And now you can add body positivity to that list, as they *might* finally be not quite jumping on it, but carefully hovering one toe over the bandwagon, with Kourtney Kardashian posting an un-retouched butt selfie.
I know, alert the media.
Well, somebody (and I think we all know who) did alert the media —or, at least, PEOPLE magazine — which published an article entitled, “Fans Praise Kourtney Kardashian for Sharing an ‘Unedited’ Thong Bikini Photo: ‘Way to Empower”. It states, “Since is no stranger to posting butt-baring bikini pics, her eagle-eyed followers soon noticed that the photo appeared to show her backside exactly as it is, with no airbrushing involved.”
I’m not sure it takes an eagle eye to notice when someone’s skin hasn’t been blurred into oblivion, although I will say the “imperfections” here are quite subtle, so I’ll give it to them. The article then included a smattering of positive comments, such as, “Way to empower the natural women body!! Love this 🙌❤️,” and “I love that the little dimples were kept! It’s so natural and so beautiful 😍.”
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Sorry, my eyes rolled back in my head so hard they got stuck and I couldn’t type coherently for a minute there.
I mean, look, is it good that Kourtney didn’t take the opportunity to Facetune her butt, as surely many people on Instagram (and her own family) do? Are there a few (barely) visible ripples in the skin of her butt cheeks? Yes and yes. But excuse me if I’m not going to take this opportunity to praise the Kardashians, a family who basically feeds off an exclusive diet of controversy and rumored butt implants, for posting a “natural” photo. They have long been accused of warped photo editing, secretive cosmetic surgery, and generally feeding into and perpetuating unrealistic and toxic beauty standards, and fans have been begging for them to get real for years. And the best you could do is not airbrushing your butt? Also, not to get too in the weeds here, but if there is one body part that the Kardashians are known for, it’s their butts. (Say butt again.) Should anyone in that family really be getting a cookie for showing off one of their best features? Progress is progress, sure, but on the road to body positivity, this is one small step made by an inchworm with a bad leg.
And why was Kourtney posting an unedited pic anyway? Notably, the photo was posted not to Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram, but to Poosh’s Instagram, which has a fraction of her personal following. (She posted a different butt picture to her personal Instagram that is conveniently devoid of dimples.) The caption accompanying this brave photo? “Talk about an instant butt lift. We tapped Kourt’s trainer @jesseohara for her top at-home pilates moves for a rounder rear. Link in bio for her tips.”
Despite what the glowing write-ups are implying, the photo was not intended to be a celebration of Kourtney’s natural body—or anyone’s, for that matter. Rather, it’s a promotion for an “at-home Pilates moves for a rounder butt” article on Poosh. And while advertising a Pilates-induced “instant butt lift” is not on the same level as promoting appetite suppressant lollipops or flat tummy tea or a cosmetic butt lift, promoting the idea of instant results from a whopping total of seven Pilates moves smacks of the same scamminess. It still boils down to “change your body quick by doing this thing I’m promoting”.
On the one hand, every celebrity posting their cellulite can give everyday people the confidence to embrace their own, or at least to not be bothered by it. But on the other hand, context is key, and posting this with the intent of driving readers to a butt workout is really just shifting those insecurities to a slightly different focus. Like, you don’t need to have a smooth ass, but you need to have a round one. Is that really doing anyone any good?
I get that for this Photoshopped cyborg family, releasing an unedited photo might be groundbreaking, but if that’s supposed to mean something for the rest of us, then the bar really is underground. This post doesn’t help anyone other than maybe Kourtney promote body acceptance or build confidence or acceptance of their own bodies — it’s still telling you how you can “improve” a part of your body (according to standards perpetuated by this very family).
To be clear, Kourtney herself is not the one putting forth the narrative that this is a groundbreaking move — that’s all the media, who are also linking it to Khloé’s infamous leaked, unedited bikini pic gaffe with headlines such as “Kourtney Kardashian Proudly Shows Off Cellulite After Khloe Kardashian’s Deleted Photo Controversy” and “Kourtney Kardashian’s Unedited Thong Photo Is Everything Khloé’s Critics Wish She Would Post”. But is that all we want them to post? Unedited photos? Unedited pictures are the first step—a step that celebrities have already been taking. The Kardashians are so late to the game it’s not even funny. One article gushes that the picture “shows off her fitness level while still giving us an unfiltered view of what a woman’s body looks like”. This is only “unfiltered” if you are taking an extremely literal and narrow definition of the word — yeah, there may or may not be a filter on this, but that’s about as relatable as it gets. Most women don’t have access to famous personal trainers. Most women don’t look like this!! It’s correct that we get an “unfiltered” look at what “a woman’s body” looks like—a woman. This one.
Call me radical, but we can — and should — wish for more than unedited thong photos. By celebrating this as some huge win, it just reinforces that the Kardashians can continue to be applauded for failing to do anything to actually move the needle.
Images: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Dior Men; poosh / Instagram
In what feels like an endless scroll of unattainable bodies and faces on Instagram, model and activist Hunter McGrady is the “it” girl you never knew you needed. She’s taking over the fashion industry in more ways than one, and remaining humble af while she does it.
Her new fashion line, All Worthy by Hunter McGrady, recently launched with QVC. Think style meets comfort, with no limitations. With inclusive sizes ranging from XXS to 5X, McGrady is at the forefront of an important movement in women’s fashion and history—style for everybody, regardless of their size.
When she’s not designing beautiful clothing, you can find McGrady gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated, using her platform to uplift others, and donating her time and efforts to charity work.
I caught up with McGrady to ask her about her experience as a fashion model, what working in the industry was like for someone who’s not a size 0, what inspires her to keep going, and more.
On Her Journey As A Model
“So, I started in this business when I was 16 years old. I was six feet tall and about a size two. I was consistently told to lose weight off my hips, to lose inches, I mean—it was just a constant, ‘change this, change that.’ I was a kid, I wasn’t even developed, and I was still being told to lose weight. From ages 16 to 18, I tried being a straight-sized model and it was just really going against my natural body and how it was supposed to sit. It was also going against everything I started to believe in. Fast forward, I took a few years off, and at age 20 I started plus-size modeling. I had no idea about it because, again, this was something that was still very new. I never grew up seeing plus-size models. It was just not something that was in my magazines. I started plus-size modeling at size 14. I really had grown into my body and learned to love it after therapy and self-love, and finding who I was. Now I’ve been modeling for gosh, seven years.”
On Inclusive Brands
“To be completely transparent, there’s not a ton . I’ve always been a fan of Christian Siriano, he gets it every time. He always puts plus on the runway, he dresses the plus-size actresses. It’s funny, because I am friends with a couple of these girls who go to the Golden Globes, The Emmys, The Oscars, and we always joke about, “that’s it.” Of course, Jason Wu dresses larger, and there are some others as well, but it’s still very small. We are progressing, but very slowly. I would love to see more high-end designers jump on this train because, I mean, it’s 2020. 72% of America is a size 16 or above. The demand is outweighing the supply. I would love to see these companies take this chance. I think it’s a beautiful thing, bringing in a new fresh customer who has the money and is willing to spend. I still can’t go shop on Fifth Avenue or in SoHo… it doesn’t exist for me, and that’s crazy.”
On Areas Of The Industry That Need Improvement
“Brands across the board. Things you wouldn’t even think about. I mean, even finding underwear and lingerie for a larger girl is so hard, I can’t even tell you, and that’s a necessity. I always encourage brands to make a change, make a change past XL . That’s not inclusive. I’m talking like really go up- 2X, 3X, 4X, 28, 30. Go larger, because the customer is there, and she WILL buy.”
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I’ve seen lots of negative “self talk” during this time, especially about our bodies. I think so many of us are feeling the pressures of having to fill every hour and every minute of the time we have right now. The truth is, we are going through a traumatic crisis and we may have the time in our days but most of us do not have the mental capacity. This is an event that none of us could have ever prepped for and our minds are still trying to wrap our head around this. I ask that you be kind to your body, Nurture your body, Love on your body fiercely,respect it, and even better, be PROUD of it. It’s getting you through this time! I stand with @anastasiagphoto to stop the body shame and love yourself, even during times of crisis. Here’s #MyQuarantineBody ❤️
On Her Own Brand, All Worthy
“I was so fed up with plus-size women getting basically cut from fashion and not having fashionable things to wear. I felt like we were always put in something that was an afterthought. What is great and cool about my line is that it is designed from a plus-size perspective, and then sized down. In fashion, you will typically find the opposite. I just wanted to create fashionable pieces that look fabulous on everybody, and I believe that fashion is for every body, every size, every age. I was so sick of talking to my girlfriends that were smaller than me and saying, “omg, I love this dress, where did you get it?” and them naming a store where I could never shop. It’s nice to be able to have the same exact item, whether it’s XXS or 5X, where it costs the same too. For the fall line, I wanted to create something cozy and comfortable. I love mixing fashion and function… A lot of us right now are home, which is kind of perfect, because my whole aesthetic is kind of comfortable. I had already thought about this prior , and now we’re home, so it works.”
On Social Media And Its Impact
I think social media can be such a blessing but can also be such a curse. I had to learn that I have the power to follow people who make me feel good, people who resonate with me, people who are authentic. I can’t be in Bali every day with a fruit basket in the water with my boyfriend, that’s just not my realistic life. It looks fabulous, but for the majority, that’s just not what it is.
I had to do an and say, ‘ok I want to follow people who make me feel great,’ because I was noticing it was kind of seeping in, and I know this is the case for a lot of other people. This measuring up. ‘Why am I not doing XYZ? How come they did this?’ I think that social media is one of the biggest catalysts right now in the mental health problem in our world, and now we’re moving into TikTok and Facebook, and of course, it’s so fun… and I am not saying don’t look at that stuff, but just be cautious of who you are following. Follow people who have your same values and morals, people that make you feel good. We have the power to do that.
I know I try to be as realistic as I can on social media. I mean, the other day I was talking about nipple hair and butt acne—things that are opening the door for this conversation in women. I got such an overwhelming response of people being like, ‘wow I felt so alone in this.’ It was really eye-opening to me because we really shouldn’t . Social media can be this place to have these conversations. It’s important to find those people that, again, make you feel good and make you feel heard. That’s what we all want at the end of the day, to feel heard.”
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LETS TALK ABOUT BUTTS!!!! Earlier today I shared a story basically telling my followers that I don’t remember a time where I DIDNT have some kind of ingrown or pimple in between my legs and on my butt. I got an influx of DMs from both women AND men saying that they felt they were the ONLY ones to experience this. Welp. Let’s normalize it!!!! I’ve never in my life had a smooth, pimple free butt, I’ve never had smooth inner thighs that didn’t have discoloration or ingrowns, and I’ve never been without cellulite and stretch marks! It’s important to remember that what we see on social media is quite literally a “perfected” version of ourselves (I’m guilty of this too sometimes) and because we’re so used to seeing that in others, we feel alone in instances like this but alas, You’re very much not alone. Let’s be butt pimple friends, welcome to the club 😆❤️
On Using Her Platform For Good
“I think the most important thing when you have a platform, you have a responsibility to talk about things that you are passionate about. Anything across the board, that is how we are lending our voices these days. I have used my platform to be loud about equality, body positivity, different movements, mental health, and as far as the fashion industry goes, I have no problem calling people (and brands) out who I find are hindering the progression of fashion and moving forward and inclusivity. Inclusivity across the board. For the last three fashion weeks, I have taken a stand and not attended any fashion shows that weren’t inclusive. Let me tell you, I had to turn down 60+ shows and I think that has been very eye-opening.
I encourage my friends to put our money where our mouth is. Dollars speak. We have to support brands that support us in our everyday life. Even my girlfriends who are women of color; I want to support them and buy from companies who are supporting them. There is still a long way to go.”
On Her Role Models And Influencers You SHOULD Follow
I have to shout out some of my girlfriends. Katie Sturino (@katiesturino) is one of my very very close friends. She keeps it so real—there is zero B.S. behind anything she does. Sarah Landry (@thebirdspapaya), she is absolutely amazing. She is a mom of three with one on the way, and she has a totally different perspective. She’s not plus, but she’s just a beautiful human. I love Maxey Greene (@maxeygreene), she has a really fun perspective. Right now, she’s pregnant, but she’s plus-sized, another thing that is never talked about in the media. You never see it. How your bump maybe doesn’t look totally perfect—so any plus-size pregnant mommas that have come to me, I’m like, ‘omg go check out Maxey. She’s amazing, she’s glowing, she’s a goddess.’ I would go through who I’m following, because I’m very proud of who I follow, and everyone has a very positive message.”
On Tips For Loving Yourself
“At 16 when I was told I had to lose weight, and then losing the weight and being so small, that really ended up being a huge detriment to my mental health. I struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life. I went to therapy and my therapist said, ‘Hunter, I want you to take a shower, I want you to take your makeup off, I want you to slick your hair back and look at yourself in the mirror naked and tell yourself 10 things that you want to love about yourself.’ I thought it was so crazy and sounded so silly, but whatever I am just going to appease her. I went home and I did it, and I broke down and felt very emotional. I realized that that’s what I needed to continue doing, and I’ve done it every single day since (not naked after the shower) just looking at myself in the mirror and doing affirmations. Telling myself how worthy I am to just see even another day here. My body has taken me here, my heart is still beating. Affirmations truly changed my life. The way our mind works, our mind follows, and what we tell it is what we believe. So, if we were so convinced the sky is gray, we would think the sky is gray. Think about that with your body, tell yourself how beautiful you are, how worthy and valued you are. That is one thing I have done for 15+ years and I always tell people, listen, it changed my life. Do it, trust me I know it sounds silly. I do it when I’m driving and everyone probably looks at me like I’m a cook but I don’t care because it’s what we need.”
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Maybe one of my favorite pictures of all time of me. I knew taking it that it would be. I felt sexy, I felt sure of myself, and utterly confident. You know, sometimes I don’t feel this way during shoots. I’m human, I have bad days and good days. I have days where I feel like a bad photo is inevitable because i don’t like my hair or my clothes or my poses, or my body, but then I look back and realize it wasn’t the photo, it wasn’t the hair, it wasn’t the clothes, or the poses or the body but rather the way I was thinking about myself that was the problem. Again, I’m human! We all have these days, albeit sometimes mine get captured. I always try to enter every day, every shoot, every encounter with the intention to have confidence, energy, and grace. ❤️
On Four Consecutive ‘Sports Illustrated’ Spreads
“The fourth time feels like the first time. It’s still just as surreal and it’s still such a “pinch me” moment. I never thought as a size 18, which I am now, that I would be in a magazine like Sports Illustrated, but that just goes to show how amazing Sports Illustrated is. They really have been at the forefront of this entire inclusive movement. The reaction is always incredible. I get women being like ‘thank you so much’ because it’s nice to feel represented. I’m like, ‘don’t thank me, thank SI.’ It takes these publications to put women like me in them. We need to be seen, representation matters. It’s been amazing and I feel very proud to be a part of that family. Every year I feel like it’s more and more diverse.”
Images: Provided by Hunter McGrady, Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/huntermcgrady/, Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/qvc/
In the world of Instagram, it’s incredibly scary to see what people think is attractive. Social media has taken magazine and regular media editing and warped it even more, so now it may seem like everyone you know looks like Megan Fox or Kim Kardashian—perfect curves, teeny waists, striking features, and some
light plastic surgery. But don’t worry, guys: pretty much everyone you see on Instagram is full of sh*t. Thankfully, most people who post like this on social media do not know what the f*ck they are doing, even when they should def have the budget to hire a decent photo editor (looking at you, Kylie. One billion dollars and not one person knows where your waist should be?). Especially since most of us are still staying home, it might seem like all you do is look at other people’s photos on Instagram, and if you’re not careful, this can get real toxic real quick. To save you from the B.S., I’m here to give you a few quick, easy tips to figure out whether someone on Instagram is misleading you.
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Same body, same underwear, different shape… On the left: – popped hip – underwear pulled high to waist – stretching up my torso – tensing my stomach muscles – sucking in my waist On the right: – relaxed Both images are my body that I love and am proud of. We don’t see unposed and relaxed images on IG often but I want to make it normal, because it is normal. You can completely transform the shape of your body through cleaver poses but at the end of the day, you should be so proud to share your relaxed and natural body because it’s beautiful just as it is. 💕
I don’t really know who Georgie Clark is (a reality star, says Google?) but you should follow her immediately. She started posting her thirst trap photos with a twist, throwing in a real picture that isn’t perfectly posed to show you how important knowing your angles can be. It’s really cool to see because this is even before Facetune. Just knowing how to show your body at the right poses (and having proper lighting, but we’ll get there) can make you look completely different.
In the photo on the right, you can tell she’s fit, but has a super normal straight waist and minimal ab definition. According to Georgie’s post, if you see someone stretching out their torso, with a hip out, and clearly sucking in (spoiler: it’s all of them), IT IS STRATEGICALLY POSED and not this person’s body IRL. That’s also true if you see underwear or bathing suit bottoms over the hips—it’s a super flattering silhouette, but they probably don’t look like this all the time. I have zero (0) issues with posing strategically in photos and wearing flattering outfits. In fact, I think that’s pretty necessary to take your most flattering pics; just ask any pro photographer. But just know, this is an art that people spend a lot of time perfecting and it’s not what they look like 24/7.
I don’t know who this chick is either (but apparently 1.8 million people do? Who are you people?) but after seeing this photo, I thought one thing immediately: Who TF does she think she’s kidding with this v v v fake Facetune waist job? Apparently, quite a few people. 175k at time of posting. This is the kind of sh*t I have a problem with. It’s not just posing your real body; it’s taking out body parts to fake what you look like. Thus creating the toxic AF wormhole we’re in as a society, especially for women. Sigh.
So, how do we know this photo is Facetuned (badly) and isn’t just well-angled, like Georgie’s? Take a look at Sarah’s stomach. Her sides are scooped out (and blurry BTW). Her ribs are smushed. This is anatomically incorrect. And how do we know this isn’t just her body? Well, here’s an easy little trick. Your bellybutton is actually level with your hip bones, so it basically sits at the widest part of your torso. The smallest part of your waist is actually right under the rib cage. Here’s the big mistake people make when they try to give themselves super cinched waists: they put the smallest part of their waist too close to their bellybutton instead. It gives you more of an hourglass figure, but unless you’re wearing a few pairs of Spanx, it’s just not possible. You can fake it by putting high-waisted stuff up on your hips (see above) but as we can see in this photo, Sarah’s waist indents are both too low and NOT at the bikini bottoms like Georgie’s is. Also, her waist is the same size as her head. Not possible without a corset because of, you know, organs. Why do influencers want to pretend they don’t have organs?
Here’s a throwback photo of Chrissy Teigen, for an example:
This is her real stomach. You can tell because the smallest part of her stomach is under the ribs, while her bellybutton is at the widest part where her hipbones are. See how much higher up her waist indents are than Sarah’s? Even check out the above photo of Georgie Clark. In BOTH photos, even the posed one, her bellybutton lines up with her hipbones. Sarah tried to sidestep this by removing her hip bones entirely, but you guys are too smart for that BS now.
My rule with most celeb or influencer photos is that, if something looks off, it’s probably because it is. Take, for example, the giant leg craze of last year (simpler times, truly). We did a whole article on celeb-fave app Spring that gave everyone very scary Jack Skellington legs, but there are always a few ways to tell it’s being used. 1) The person looks like Jack Skellington, or this lovely 9-foot-tall Kylie monster, featured above. 2) Their feet are ENORMOUS from the stretching (LOL). 3) The background is stretched along with them (Kylie is on a boat, so it’s harder to tell, but check for it anyway). And 4) if all else fails, and you REALLY NEED TO KNOW whether this photo is real or fake, you can always bust out some anatomy skills and see if the person is disproportionately too tall.
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Just a little reminder for Monday… you are beautiful from any angle, lighting or pose. You can see just how quickly I can change how my body looks from knowing: 1️⃣ Where the light is most flattering 2️⃣ What pose looks the best for my body 3️⃣ Which angle compliments my skin These are all tricks that every influencer and model has learnt so when you see “the best” shot on here… just remember it’s a snapshot of their real life and it doesn’t mean that’s the reality of what their body looks like. P.s does anyone know why when I post these videos on here it strips my tan? It takes the saturation out of my videos! So annoying 🤬
These videos from Georgie are everything. We already talked about how important posing is, but here’s another video that shows the importance of good lighting! It’s all an illusion, guys. Everyone has fat, cellulite, and rolls no matter how thin or fit you are—it just is what it is. So how can you tell if lighting is hiding imperfections? Well, pay attention to where the sun and shadows are. If the shadows are soft rather than harsh, if the person is outside, or if it’s golden hour, chances are it’s just good lighting that’s making them appear so flawless. (You can read more about lighting here.) But this is why you don’t look like a supermodel under the fluorescent lights in your bathroom when you’re getting ready for the day. Because Georgie is a badass, here is another amazing photo of her in harsh lighting, with cellulite and stretch marks, not sucking in her stomach. Be nicer to yourself.
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It’s taken me a while to get here but Reality vs Reality ☺️ I posted a picture of my stretch marks a few days and YES I was sucking in (it’s like I can’t stop myself sometimes because my body’s been under so much scrutiny as a female for years!) I’m trying to unlearn this now as sometimes I do it without realising… how sad is that… that women can be doing normal everyday things and be uncomfortably sucking in all day because of the scrutiny her body has been put under?! Anyway, under this picture of my stretch-marks and me sucking in… A girl commented “How can I get a flat stomach like you?” I quickly replied and said “I’m sucking in to the point I can’t even breath 😂 “ Which then so many of you gorgeous people said… “We want to see the real shot then!” With all of your encouragement, kind words and amazing messages (even sharing my content) has really given me the confidence to finally post just my reality 😍 it’s a liberating place to be at and you’re all the people who’ve helped me get here. So THANK YOU, I don’t deserve you all but I’m bloody glad I have you all supporting me. Even if you can relate to just one of my posts or one caption has helped you then it’s worth it for me. 💕 #selflove #normalisenormalbodies
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just bringing a bit of reality to your Saturday morning workout sesh 🔥💪🏼 ⠀ ⠀ Do you find yourself thinking one of these photos is “healthier” than other? Why is that?⠀ ⠀ I have known my body for decades. I have known that dieting and exercising towards this “ideal” body shape has lead to unhappiness and toxic cycles of binging. ⠀ ⠀ And so I know now that my body is meant to look this way. We are in homeostasis. We are happy. ⠀ ⠀ You know your body and you know best . You have no obligations to let the social misconceptions of others change who you are . ⠀ ⠀ We are absolutely enough. ⠀ ⠀ @gymshark #gifted ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #bodyacceptance #gymsharkwomen #gymshark #workoutoutfit #workoutclothes #matchingset #bikeshorts #backrolls #bighips #bodyneutrality #idealbody #antidiet #antidietculture #midsize #allbodiesaregoodbodies #effyourbeautystandards
Christine is another body-positive model that I follow, and you totally should, too. This picture shows how choosing clothing that fits well and hits you in the right spots can make a huge difference. Take the first pic of Georgie—she looks way smaller because her underwear is up on her hip bones, cinching her waist further. Here, Christine shows us the difference something as simple as pulling your pants up to your waist can make. You’ll probably notice all the celebs and influencers hike their pants high up on their hip bones for this same effect, too.
There are things on Instagram that I find really toxic, like creating a new body with Facetune. And there are photography tricks that I think are fine, because it’s at least your body, just showcased in a very specific way. But the bottom line is that none of these things are reality or what these people look like on the daily.
I hope this has been helpful and made you feel better about the content that’s being shoved down your throat. No matter how thin or perfect celebrities seem in photos, I promise you that it’s 99% bullsh*t—we didn’t even get into all the plastic surgery, makeup, hair stylists, and body makeup (yes, body makeup) that celebs also use!
What are little tricks and giveaways that tell you a photo isn’t real life? Do you compare yourself to the models, celebrities, and influencers you see on Instagram? Did you know how much goes into taking the “perfect” photo? How do you feel about the difference between posing vs. completely giving yourself a new waist via Facetune? LMK!
Image: Meital Anlen / Unsplash
Imagine walking into a horribly fluorescent-lit room wearing nothing but a tiny black bikini and six-inch heels. Now imagine standing in this room while your legs shake in front of a panel of six judges whispering to each other and asking you to turn around so that they can, and I quote, “take a look at your cute little butt.” That was me at the ripe age of 20 at my first ever National Miss Israel Beauty Pageant audition, and even though it was seven years ago and I totally wouldn’t say no to having that cute butt again without having to ever do a single squat, I still cringe at the thought of that moment.
Let me first make something very clear. I had no idea my mom signed me up for the pageant. I was having lunch with a friend like a normal 20-year-old with nothing to worry about besides what to order for dinner that night, when I got a text message from an unknown number: Thank you for submitting your pictures to the National Miss Israel Beauty Pageant. Please arrive at the Israel Woman’s Magazine headquarters at 6 am tomorrow for the first in-person audition. No makeup please.
I called my mom to tell her about it, because I call my mom to tell her about everything, and she confessed that she was the one who sent in my pictures. I wasn’t happy with her, but I also wasn’t as annoyed as you’d expect. That’s because deep down, I knew it had been a dream of hers to be a beauty queen since she was young, and I couldn’t blame her for wanting to fulfill that dream through me. What else do you have kids for? Still, I didn’t think beauty pageants were up my alley and was actually against the idea of women prancing around like puppets in their underwear on a stage in front of thousands of people. My mom was so deeply disappointed – the kind of McDonalds-is-closed-at-3am-when-you’re-drunk disappointment – that I agreed to give it a shot, repeating in my mind the one mantra that calmed me down: There are a thousand other girls trying out, what was the chance that the judges would choose me?
But a month and a dozen auditions later, they surprisingly did, and I became 1 of 20 official contestants in the National Miss Israel Beauty Pageant. I decided that since I had made it that far already, I should at least see where this competition could take me. Plus, a small voice inside wanted to know if I was good enough.
When Pageant Boot Camp started, I saw a side of the competition I wasn’t expecting. The girls were sweet—we laughed at the judges behind their backs, gave each other advice on boys—and to my surprise, some of them were actually smart. There were girls of every type—tan, black, white, redheaded, short, tall—but I remember wondering why they were all so thin. One complimented my wavy hair and summer tan, another offered me half of her banana. I couldn’t believe my competition didn’t treat me like competition at all. Maybe this beauty pageant thing wasn’t so bad after all?
At first, once I let myself get into it, pre-pageant life was amazing. Three times a week, I brushed aside the idea that I was being constantly judged for my looks, the snide remarks from our pageant director when I ate a bagel one morning, the ridiculous rule of having to wear six-inch heels to every meeting, even if that meeting was literally on the beach. Instead, my new friends and I tilted our heads back in laughter as club owners welcomed us into the hottest parties with open arms, as fully booked restaurants somehow had a table waiting for us, as every pair of jeans I ever slipped on seemed to be made for me. I remember thinking one evening as I was applying red lipstick, If I don’t have this anymore, what will I have left? What a sad young woman I must have been to think that youth is power, that I had nothing else to offer. But back then, when the pageant was just beginning, I wasn’t sad. I felt strong. I felt unstoppable. I felt irresistible and powerful, like I had control.
Until everything started spinning out of control. As the day of the competition was getting closer, I was growing father from the girl I used to be. Instead of barely making it onto the elliptical and watching the Kardashians on my phone as I gradually turned down the resistance like I used to do, I threw on my sports bra and leggings twice a day, grabbed a coffee ,and drove to the high-end aerobics studio the other pageant girls went to. Transform your body, the sign on the door of the studio promised. Every morning I took the one-hour Body Pump class, and in the evenings I did half an hour of cardio before my one-hour Pilates for Beginners workout. I glanced over the girls in my classes, comparing my legs to theirs. I had never previously worried too much about my weight besides being mildly alarmed one time after inhaling nine Krispy Crème donuts and thinking I probably shouldn’t do that again for a while. Yet as each day passed, I squinted into the aerobics class mirror and watched my body shrink. I cut out carbs completely, ate small portions, and weighed myself before and after every class.
Three times a week, we spent hours with pageant directors practicing our walks, changing in and out of designer clothes, posing for photoshoots. I remember wondering if the hairdresser thought I was a real-life doll when he styled my hair aggressively, pulling it back as if my scalp couldn’t possibly feel the tug of the brush. They measured our body fat weekly, the inches on our arms and legs, stomach, ankles (did you know that’s a thing? Neither did I). I felt so insecure, never pretty enough or thin enough, and always judged by people that didn’t care about me as a person, only about me as a body.
One night, when we were at pageant rehearsal, I was changing into my second dress when one of the male stylists kept calling me to come out and show him what it looked like on. The problem was that I couldn’t get the stupid thing up over my head because it was literally a toddler’s size and full of sparkly silver sequins. The stylist grew impatient and all of a sudden, he barged into my dressing room! Frantically, he helped pull the dress over my naked body, and although he barely looked at me, I had never felt so violated. I wanted to scream at him, to tell him I was a human, not a Barbie. I wanted to tell him that he couldn’t just open the door to my privacy whenever he wanted to. But instead, I didn’t say anything at all.
I had lost myself. The competition drained the innocent cheeriness out of me and instead filled me with anxiety and insecurity. Being considered one of twenty of the most beautiful girls in Israel is supposed to be a confidence booster, right? Wrong. I was totally losing it, comparing myself to the women around me and constantly feeling like I wasn’t enough.
The day of the competition, 19 other contestants and I stood in a black bikinis and six-inch heels, this time in front of 5,000 people. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up, and looking out into the audience wanting nothing more than to run backstage, I realized that this competition had ruined my self-confidence. In three months, I went from a girl with deep aspirations like going to college and writing a book, to a young woman who doubted her own value. I didn’t win a single title, let alone pageant queen, and at that moment I decided to cut the pageant world out of my life for good.
Today, our culture has opened its doors to untouched ad campaigns (thank you, Aerie!) plus size models, and body positivity. But there is no doubt that we have a long way to go. If you scroll through Instagram, you’ll still see Victoria’s Secret models in lingerie smiling seductively, Instagram influencers making kissy faces, some of the most amazing celebrities butchering their bodies with FaceTune. I’ll let you in on a little secret I learned from experience: they’re more insecure than you think.
I miss the girl I was before the pageant. The carefree way she’d laugh and throw her hair up in a messy bun. It’s taken years, but I finally feel like I’m slowly getting her back. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from showcasing my half naked body on a pageant stage, it’s this: the only one that can validate your beauty is you.
Because I am supremely lazy, get department store-induced migraines, and am under the age of 35, most of my shopping takes place online. I’m currently in hot pursuit of a wedding guest dress that says, “This is a fancy designer, but it was on sale” so I headed to the one place for this kind of lewk, Revolve, and let me just say, I’m disappointed. Either they have an incredible model scouter that has somehow managed to find all alien-women crossovers who have four-foot long legs and normal-sized torsos, or the brand’s photo team retouches the sh*t out of the models’ bodies. I’m no Photoshop expert, so the fact that even I noticed something was wrong is a serious problem. From a consumer standpoint, I am not tempted to buy a dress that, according to the photo online, will only flatter someone who does not have a ribcage.
I absolutely stan brands that are proud to show their clothes, makeup, accessories, etc. on models who look like real people. Beyond just showing size diversity, I love a brand that chooses to not erase stuff like scars, freckles, cellulite and a bunch of other sh*t photo editors consider unsightly in a picture. Clap once if you’re more down to buy something if it’s shown on a model who looks like you…but, like, really pretty because they’re still models. Since major beauty and fashion brands don’t do this often enough, I want to commend a few who don’t retouch their models to the point where they are unrecognizable.
This list is in no particular order, except for this first item because Rihanna is obviously the most amazing fashion designer/beauty guru/musical genius/God that ever walked the Earth and deserves to be first in everything. Riri showcases overwhelmingly diverse gorgeousness from Paloma Elsesser to Camila Costa to Slick Woods. I mean, all I can say is hell f*cking yes! I already knew Ri is a boss who does whatever the f*ck she wants, but what made me feel like this article needed to be written was an ad for her jewelry featuring a very untouched Aweng Chuol. The South Sudanese model is the definition of glowing. Like, what highlighter is she using? She has a few subtle facial scars, but so does everyone! I have one from the chicken pox under one of my eyes and, guess what, no one cares. Scars aren’t offensive and shouldn’t be edited out of anything—especially a beauty shot, which is a term I learned from ANTM. Thank you, Tyra. At the end of the day, Rihanna has the right idea here: she designs her makeup, jewelry, and clothing lines for all women to wear and feel hot in. We applaud you, Rihanna!
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Proving that age is just a number, 55-year-old marathon runner, mother and cancer survivor, Ruby, shows us there are no limits to what you can achieve, at any age ??♀️ Encouraging women in all walks of life to live their lives to the fullest, she’s an inspiration to us all ? Ruby wants to see more athletes that look like her, who do you want to see? Just click the link in our bio to upload your photo to Project #ShowUs. @girlgaze ?: @debysucha ?? ?: @gettyimages #Dove #ShowUs #RealBeauty #Athletes #WomenWhoLookLikeMe #Mother #CancerSurvivor #Strength #StrongWomen #girlgaze #GettyImages
I obviously couldn’t write an article about brands that celebrate real people without mentioning the OG. Dove boarded the body positive train way back in 2004, you guys. “As a beauty brand, Dove has always celebrated real women and their beauty. We believe the Mark will help women identify reality in what can be a confusing, digital world and relieve some of the pressure to look a certain way,” Amy Stepanian, Dove’s Marketing Director said of the brand’s No Digital Distortion Mark campaign. It’d be cool if there was no need for a campaign like this, but we live in a superficial world run by superficial people, so we’ll have to take what we can get for now. To me, Dove is the epitome of realness and, although their ads can be a little aggressive with shoving their agenda down our eye sockets every chance they get, I love what the brand stands for. They’re like the opposite of Abercrombie’s former CEO, who didn’t believe that larger people are capable of being the “cool kids.” Gag. Correct me if I’m wrong, but any full-grown adult using the phrase “cool kids” in complete seriousness is still bitter about not being invited to parties in high school. Anyway, cheers to Dove for not being like this. Now everyone go buy some soap!
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TBH I haven’t stepped foot in American Eagle since 2007, but I have ordered a few Aerie bathing suits and pajama bottoms online. The only reason I did such a thing was because I could get a sense of how the pieces fit because they are shown on everyday body types. The only evidence of Photoshop may be adding a cloud or two to their beach pics, but it looks like the models bodies are left intact. The fact that there’s like a bikini body ideal out there in the first place is gross, and brands like Aerie are thankfully shutting it down. Like, want a bikini body? Put on a bikini. Boom, done.
Aerie has been promoting body positivity sans photo editing for a while now—since 2014, actually. Yes, their creative teams edit the photos to give them a more editorial look, but they generally leave the models alone. When the brand first stopped editing women’s bodies five years ago, Aerie’s sales skyrocketed almost 30%. Wait, so you’re saying clothing that real women buy sells better when shown on real women? Color me shooketh! Well done, Aerie. We need more brands like this to show us the way when it comes to knowing your audience.
As far as I’m concerned, ASOS can literally do no wrong at this point. I liked the brand before I learned about their editing policy, and now I am addicted. They stopped airbrushing back in 2017 with its ASOS Face + Body launch, which was a rebranding done right, if you ask me. In fact, if you’re a big ASOS fan, you know that they reject the word “beauty” because it’s too subjective and broad. Check out their IG for a refreshing celebration of their values, which we all need to adopt. I’m sure some of y’all are wondering why I chose the pic I did to represent the absence of Photoshop, as this model clearly never had an awkward phase and it shows. The reason I chose it because she’s clearly stunning and has gorgeous skin, but you can see her pores! Unlike most severe closeups beauty brands use to highlight whatever overpriced cream they’re trying to sell by trying to convince us that it erases pores, ASOS left this girl’s pores alone. And guess what? She’s still really f*cking pretty and I would gladly trade skin with her. Regardless of if you buy a beauty product or not, you should be happy to have the skin you’re in—even though it has pores. Everyone has them, people. Literally everyone. If you see someone who doesn’t have them, get them help ASAP because something is wrong.
Images: Matthew T Rader / Unsplash; asos_faceandbody, aerie, dove, awengchuol / Instagram
Is it just me or is bathing suit shopping more stressful than wedding dress shopping? At least the dressing rooms at bridal boutiques don’t deploy meth lab lighting or mirrors that convince me I’m a chubby ghost who should just lead with my personality when I meet people. Look, when it comes to donning a bathing suit, I think every woman should wear whatever makes her feel her sexiest, but for me, that’s def not a string bikini that exposes a casual 97% of my translucently pale body. Don’t get me wrong, I like my body, but that doesn’t mean I want to focus all of my beach/pool time silently praying that my SoulCycle ass doesn’t swallow my bikini bottoms. Enter: high-waisted bathing suits!
Do you guys know about high-waisted bathing suits? I’ve always ignored these because they can look very diaper-esque if worn incorrectly. But there are some people out there who demonstrate the beautiful magic of high-waisted bathing suits, and I am here for them! There are so many flattering, non-diaper, high-waisted bikini bottoms out there, and if you don’t have the energy (or time) to sift through them all, I got you. Whether you’re thin, curvy, tall, or short (or any of the other 102 body types out there), accentuating your waist is always a good idea. These high-waisted bathing suits don’t look like diapers, I promise you.
J.Crew Seamless High-Waisted Bikini Bottom In Seersucker With Trim, $58
J.Crew slays bathing suits. This blue-and-white striped number is no exception. How cute is this thing, people? I always like to incorporate pale colors and/or white into my suits because lighter shades—especially white—make you look tanner than you are. As someone who actually wears a foundation shade called “Ivory,” I can confirm that I don’t look like a corpse in light-colored swimwear. No matter what skin tone you are, this color combo will def flatter your complexion and figure. Plus, this subtle red moment is giving me all the life I’ll ever need. Yes, J.Crew, yes.
Beach Riot Highway Ribbed Bikini Bottom, $92
While trying on thousands of bikinis, I noticed that aggressive patterns weren’t working for me. This could just be because my look already has a lot going on so patterns aren’t really my vibe, but like a wedding dress, bathing suits shouldn’t have too many elements because said elements take away from the shape. This Beach Riot bikini has the right idea, though. It has enough going on with the stripes, bold colors, and sexy shape, but doesn’t overpower anyone wearing it. Most important to note, it’s ribbed
for her pleasure. Contrary to my summer internships at fashion houses, which, on a scale of Arya Stark’s Faceless Men of Braavos apprenticeship to loving life, was a solid three, I’m not a fashion expert. However, I can confidently say that any simple shape or bright colors should be complemented by a ribbed material, otherwise it kind of looks like a sports bra.
Dolce Vita Stella High Waist Bottom in Black, $68
Concerning facial expression aside, this model looks absolutely fierce in this studded ensemble. I am living for the subtle sparkle and overall simple vibe here. Idk about y’all, but I will def be purchasing. The straps are removable (bless), so you can wear this as a tube top until you get sick of pulling it up every time you move, like, at all. I stan. Secondly, these bottoms are simple and chill enough that you can wear pretty much any top with them and not look like a complete idiot. I’ll take it in all the colors, please!
Zaful Banana Striped Lace Up Tankini Swimsuit, $20.99
If you don’t want to spend more on a bikini than you would on dinner, Zaful has your back. As its prices imply, the bathing suits and other clothing it sells aren’t exactly couture, but they get the job done and look cute in pics. The patterns are as trendy as trendy can get (just take a look at their Instagram if you don’t believe me) and this mix-and-match situation is no exception. I never thought I could rock flowers and stripes in one look, but here we are and I’m not mad about it. I bought one of these saucy numbers last year for a beach trip and it def did not last the entire summer (do not machine wash, people!), but if you just want to boost your swimsuit collection for trips to the Hamptons, Rehoboth Beach if you’re poor (hi), or Mexican bach parties, Zaful is the move. It may not be a huge financial investment, but it’s an investment in your Instagram, and what’s more important than that?
Aerie High Waisted Bikini Bottom in Black, $12.47
I love AE’s mission statement to be inclusive, chic and fun. Like, I want to be those things, please! Teach me your ways, AE. Anyway, a simple black bikini is such a good call because black is slimming, which we could all use as we prance around the pool without any clothes, amiright? IMHO, what makes this look non-diaper-like is the fact that it is has seams along the sides and is slightly ruched. Otherwise, these bottoms would just be like black Spanx without Spanx’s magical powers to hold all your sh*t in. So the ruched aspect is v important here. It’s also on 50% off rn, so make it rain on these sales.
Images: Unsplash; Aerie; Zaful; Bloomingdales; Dolce Vita; J.Crew
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Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by your mirror, front-facing camera, or the reflection of yourself in a glass of wine *entire population slowly raises their hands*. As much as you try, it’s difficult to love yourself all the time. Especially when you realize that you downed an entire box of pizza, eight tequila shots, and a small village last night, and now you feel like sh*t. Instagram makes it kind of hard to love yourself sometimes, what with all the models on your feed who make beauty look so effortless (not to mention, the trolls who might comment on your pics if you dare go a day without wearing makeup). That’s why we brought plus-size model Tess Holliday on our Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast to get real with us about body positivity and confidence.
For those of you who don’t know, Tess is a super important figure within the plus-size modeling and body positivity communities. She’s the creator of the viral hashtag #effyourbeautystandards, a movement that called out unrealistic beauty standards. She also became the largest plus-size model of her size and height to get signed to a mainstream agency when she signed with Milk Management in 2014. On social media, Tess is known for her fearless, take-no-bullsh*t attitude. If you troll her, she will clap back with facts. All in all, Tess is a boss-ass woman.
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Phew, I’m literally a COSMO GIRL!! Can’t believe I’m saying that! ???????? Thank you @cosmopolitanuk & @farrahstorr for this incredible opportunity ???????? If I saw a body like mine on this magazine when I was a young girl, it would have changed my life & hope this does that for some of y’all ???? Issue hits stands 8/31! ???????????????? Photo by the incredible @wattsupphoto #effyourbeautystandards
A recent UK Cosmo cover star, Holliday has used her social media platform as a model to speak up about what it’s really like to embrace your body. Holliday is one unfiltered betch, and she doesn’t mask anything when it comes to talking about her triumphs and struggles with self-image. It’s not f*cking easy no matter how famous you are (sigh) to love yourself. Here are Holliday’s top tips to keep in mind about the body positivity movement, confidence and embracing who you are:
F*ck Society’s Beauty Standards
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I was laughed off stage at a beauty pageant when I was growing up, so @cosmopolitanuk decided to crown me queen in my October cover story ???? I wish 13 year old me could see me now ???? #effyourbeautystandards | Dress made by @zelieforshe / styled by @amybannermanstylist and @maddyalford / photos @wattsupphoto / production, art and props Cat Costelloe and @colesontoast / glam by @jessica__mejia @sofiasjoohair @kimtreacynails ???????? #cosmogirl
It can be really hard to love the way you look when the only people that ever come across your Instagram feed are stick-thin models in crop tops pretending to eat chicken nuggets. You might think you look super hot—until your post is right below Alexis Ren’s bikini pics. The problem is, you’re never going to feel good about yourself if you can’t see other people who look like you, and are actually killing the Insta game, looking flawless as anything.
That’s why Holliday created her own Instagram campaign in 2013 called “Eff Your Beauty Standards”. It started as a hashtag for people to share photos of themselves in an outfit that scares or makes them feel beautiful. Now, it’s evolved into a community that supports your everyday gal just trying to take a cute selfie. Holliday explains; “there are a ton of people around the world no matter their race or gender—that feel sh*t about themselves too, so let’s talk about it.”
Don’t Let Brands Trick You Into Thinking They’re Inclusive
It’s like, super trendy right now to be body positive, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it properly. Holliday explains, “companies like Flat Tummy Tea have stuff that’s like ‘love yourself babe’ but they’re really saying ‘you’re disgusting, babe’.” If you think drinking colon clearing, sh*t-inducing tea is how you show your body “love”, you’re out of your f*cking mind. Holliday says, “they’re literally trying to capitalize on the fact that people feel horrible about themselves,” and she’s right.
There are so many brands that hide behind so-called body positivity when in reality, they’re still trying to sell you something by capitalizing on your insecurities. And they sell products that at best, won’t do anything for you and, at worst, could be harmful. Holliday suggests looking for brands that follow through with their promise. Brands who cop out at a size 12 and say they’re inclusive literally don’t account for 68% of American women who are size 14 and above to wear their clothes.
Here are some brands Holliday says are doing it right:
It’s Okay To Have Bad Days
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You can’t feel like Beyoncé every day unless you are Beyoncé (and even she has off days). So, it’s okay to wake up and feel more potato than human. Holliday notes, “sometimes I feel like I look like a hot turd and I’m just polishing .” Major mood. It may look like body positive Instagrammers like Holliday have their sh*t together, but in reality, they struggle a lot too. Being transparent on social media is something Holliday prides herself in. She shares moments of success, but also shares the moments where she needs to remind herself she’s worthy and beautiful.
So, cut yourself some slack. Even when you’re at your worst, you can find something you love about yourself. It could be your eyes, your intelligence, or your ability to put your entire fist in your mouth. For Holliday, it was working to reclaim the word fat and acknowledge that while she may see herself as fat, she’s so much more than that.
To hear the rest of Holliday’s interview, check out our Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast. And if you want more Tess Holliday in your life (hell yeah you do), check out her new series on People TV.
Images: Getty Images; tessholiday / Instagram (3)