Ever felt insecure about your body after scrolling through celebrity social media accounts, browsing a magazine rack, or watching the Oscars? You’re not alone. One study examined the effect celebrity social media accounts have on adolescents, finding that exposure to “perfect” pictures of “perfect” celebrities significantly increases body image dissatisfaction and a drive to be thin  but fortunately there are some that promote a body positive image.
While many celebrities promote the thin ideal and painstakingly conform to the cultural ideal of beauty (relying on extreme diets and exercise or using heavy edits and photoshopping tools on images), other celebrities are defying these unrealistic standards and promoting body acceptance and self-love. Here are six examples of body positive celebrities speaking out against cultural standards of beauty and encouraging fans to love and accept their bodies, just as they are.
Being Body Positive for Sam Smith
Sam Smith, an English singer and songwriter, is another celebrity who has battled body image issues and insecurities thanks to the unrealistic standards placed on celebrities (and society at large). In 2019, Smith posted a shirtless photo of themself on Instagram, telling followers they decided to “Reclaim my body and stop trying to change this chest and these hips and these curves that my mum and dad made and love so unconditionally.”
Since then, Smith has shared similar messages of body-love and self-acceptance, telling Instagram follows, “Let’s love our fluctuating bodies,” and “no matter what weight we are, we are deserving of love and acceptance.”
Mindy Kaling, American actress, comedian, TV director, and producer, has made a name for herself in the body positive movement. She openly criticizes the pressure society places on actresses and celebrities to conform to unrealistic body size standards, advocating instead for love and acceptance of all bodies.
In a 2019 Instagram post to followers, Kaling says, “IDK who needs to hear this but… WEAR A BIKINI IF YOU WANT TO WEAR A BIKINI. You don’t have to be a size 0.”
Lizzo is an American singer, rapper, actress, and songwriter who is “changing culture” and reshaping the “landscape of beauty,” according to her fans on Twitter. Her songs and on-stage performances (specifically her 2019 MTV VMA performance where she danced alongside plus-sized female dancers) celebrate inclusivity and promote self-love.
But accepting and loving her body hasn’t always been easy. In a Female Quotient panel, Lizzo says, “this world wasn’t designed” for her. “I’m left-handed. I’m fat. I’m black.” “When I was younger, I wanted to change everything about myself. My self-hatred got so bad that I was fantasizing about being other people,” she admits in a 2019 October issue of Elle’s Women in Music.
But through the hard work of self-love, Lizzo is now a force for inclusion and the body positive movement, using her music and platform to tell fans they are beautiful and can do anything they want, just the way they are.
Demi Lovato and Being Body Positive
Over the past several years, Demi Lovato, an American singer and actress, has become an advocate for body positivity and body acceptance in the celebrity world. Opening up about her years-long struggles with body image insecurities and an eating disorder, Lovato now speaks out against what she calls “negative diet culture talk.”
In 2019, Lovato responded to a body-shaming headline in Inquisitr, telling her Instagram fans this: “Don’t listen to negative diet culture talk. You are more than a number on a scale. And I am more than a headline about my body shape.”
British model, Iskra Lawrence, is an outspoken advocate for body positivity and body inclusion. Along with being an #ArieREAL Role Model (a campaign to help women love themselves, inside and out), she uses her Instagram platform to promote body acceptance and speak out against diet culture.
In a July 2020 Instagram post, Iskra told her 4.5 million followers this: “It took me far too many years to not pick apart every centimeter of my body. To not want photographers to photoshop me slimmer or smooth out my skin. Because I thought that’s when I looked most beautiful. Now I know better.”
She goes on to say, “I hope you know you that you don’t need to be anything but the real you.
Society taught us to hate our bodies by showing unrealistic images that even the people in the pictures couldn’t attain. You’re meant to be imperfectly perfect…and all your angles are beautiful.”
Modern Family star, Ariel Winter, has been on the receiving end of body-shaming and cyber-bullying for years. In a Shape article, Winter shares how the negative comments and hate she received led her to engage in harmful dieting and weight loss. “I tried to crash diet to lose weight to try to fit the standard of what I thought everyone wanted me to look like, and it just never worked-I wasn’t making anyone else happier, and I definitely wasn’t making myself any happier.” She goes on to say the pressure to conform her body to the cultural standard led to “a lot of depression and anxiety.”
Winter has now stepped away from the pressure to conform to a cultural ideal. “I’m at the point where I’ve stopped reading Instagram comments. I do what I want, I post what I want, and I say what I want. I don’t focus on pleasing anyone else but myself,” she tells Shape. Winter now takes a strong stance against online body-shaming and cyber-bullying, not hesitating to mute or block anyone who promotes body shaming and negativity.
References: Shirley S. Ho, E. W. J. L. Social Network Sites, Friends, and Celebrities: The Roles of Social Comparison and Celebrity Involvement in Adolescents’ Body Image Dissatisfaction – Shirley S. Ho, Edmund W. J. Lee, Youqing Liao, 2016. SAGE Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305116664216.
About the Author:
Sarah Musick is a freelance writer who specializes in eating disorder awareness and education. After battling with a 4-years long eating disorder, she made it her mission to help others find hope and healing in recovery.
Her work has been featured on numerous eating disorder blogs and websites. When she’s not writing, Sarah is off traveling the world with her husband.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published September 10, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on September 10, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC