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The sad but true reality is that images projected by the media have a profound effect on the way some of us see ourselves. For as long as we can remember, they’ve promoted the idea that the most beautiful people are lighter and skinnier and able to do it all without breaking a sweat.
And for a while, it seemed social media only added to these unrealistic standards by regurgitating them on a rolling, 24/7 basis. Thankfully, a resistance has grown at the same rate and we’re starting to see glimmers of hope through initiatives that celebrate and reflect how we actually look. See some of our favorites, ahead.
The Colored Girl (@thecgirlinc)
Back in 2016, cofounders Tori Elizabeth and Victory Jones started this self-love campaign to celebrate the many shades of black beauty.
“I wanted to highlight and celebrate our unique beauty: our eyes, our lips, our cheekbones. I wanted women from different social and cultural backgrounds. I wanted women with angular eyes, women with freckles and fair skin, and women with really rich, ebony skin. It’s so important to be proud of who we are and showcase the beauty of blackness,” said Elizabeth in a past interview with ESSENCE.
Today, it’s evolved into a full-blown creative agency that aims to diversify beauty and fashion brands through its work both on- and off-line.
The All Woman Project (@allwomanproject)
Founded by curve models Clémentine Desseaux and Charli Howard, this Instagram movement delivered body-positive inspo that women of all shapes and sizes can relate to. In addition to the beautiful imagery posted throughout the feed, there are empowering quotes that promote self-confidence and empowerment for followers to read.
The project’s latest collaboration will be a daylong event with the gender-equality organization Girl Up, complete with inspiring talks and workshops.
Because It’s MY Body (@becauseitsmybody)
Model Denise Mercedes spearheads this body-positive campaign, which is dedicated to highlighting women of all shapes and sizes, but especially those often ignored by mainstream fashion labels. For instance, the movement’s most recent shoot was a curvier re-creation of the KarJenners’ Calvin Klein ad.
Boycott the Before (@boycottthebefore)
Transformation photos, whether they’re related to weight loss or recovery from an eating disorder, are pretty much the norm, but we may not realize their potentially harmful side effects. The goal of this initiative is to challenge that notion by focusing less on the “before” of recovery and steer away from the assumption that eating disorders have a specific look.
“Eating disorders are first and foremost mental illnesses…. All eating disorder diagnoses are valid; one does not have to ‘look sick’ to be struggling. Transformation photos tend to (sometimes inadvertently) perpetuate the myth that eating disorders have a particular look or size, which is untrue,” reads a message on the movement’s official website.
Cinta Tort Cartró (@zinteta)
This Barcelona-based artist creates beautiful paintings on people and paper. Regardless of the canvas, her work tackles everything from racism to body-positivity through uniquely-designed imagery.
Pink Bits (@pink_bits)
Although we don’t know much about the artist behind these adorable illustrations, we love that her work is dedicated to spotlighting “the bits and shapes we’re told to hide,” from stretch marks to saggy breasts and body hair.
Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa)
Mercado is a movement all on her own, thanks to her fierce dedication to normalizing the presence of people with disabilities in fashion and beauty. In addition to being signed to worldwide modeling agencies IMG and WME, the Latina beauty is also an activist who is constantly advocating for inclusion.
Eff Your Beauty Standards (@effyourbeautystandards)
Founded by curvy model Tess Holiday and run by a group of body-positive babes, this Instagram safe space frequently features women who often go under-represented in the fashion industry or have been labeled unacceptable by mainstream standards.
Rewind Beauties (@rewindbeauties)
Instagram accounts dedicated to nostalgia are never in short supply, but this may be the only one that focuses on making sure its content is intersectional. Instead of copious shots of Marilyn Monroe, you’ll instead see beautiful photos of underappreciated icons, such as Native-American singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and Indian actress Smita Patil.
This social movement, founded by Chelsea VonChaz, is not only normalizing conversations around menstruation. VonChaz is also working to provide products to low-income communities.