For women, 2014 was a year of great steps forward — and unfortunate setbacks. One area where there was much, much more celebration than disappointment was the movement to accept all bodies as beautiful.
Here are 11 projects, campaigns and movements from 2014 that are helping people to love their bodies and to fight back against harmful beauty standards:
1. The “Love Your Lines” Instagram Account
Stretchmarks are one of the many things women are taught to be ashamed of — even though an estimated 80 percent of people have them. Two east coast mothers decided to start an Instagram account celebrating stretch marks and scars as beautiful, rather than “flaws.” They asked women to send in photo submissions and a description of how they felt about their “lines” — and the responses were truly amazing.
2. The Harvard Rugby Team’s “Rugged Grace” Series
The young women on the team produced an incredible series of photographs in which they each shared what they admired about another woman’s body and character in messages written on each other’s skin.
“The project was inspired by the amazing body positivity and acceptance that we saw on our team,” team member Helen Clark told The Huffington Post. “It’s so refreshing to see a group of women being proud of the strength they’ve achieved through hours of training, and to see them celebrating the physical manifestations of that strength.”
3. “Stop The Beauty Madness”
Robin Rice’s awareness-raising campaign features 25 jarring ads that show the types of images you might see in magazines alongside brutally honest commentary. The text in the ads reference[s] the “madness” of the standards we hold women to, with the hopes of making viewers re-think their reactions to images of female beauty.
“We look at beauty magazines and fashion photographs and whether we theoretically believe in them or not, we’ve seen so many of them and they’ve been put into exactly the right light and ratio that something inside of us has said ‘That’s beautiful,'” Rice told The Huffington Post. “Whether or not we believe in it intellectually, something deeper has set in and we compare ourselves to that.”
4. When “Real Men” Posed In Underwear Ads
Men suffer from poor body image, too. The Sun’s photo series showing “real men” posing in underwear ads showed the pressures men face when comparing themselves to models or professional athletes — though by all accounts, the “normal” guys in this series have nothing to be ashamed of.
5. “If People Were Honest About Women’s Bodies”
This BuzzFeed video shows how crazy it sounds when people verbalize cultural expectations about women’s bodies. Imagine if a friend looked in the mirror and said, “I’ve been conditioned to be critical of myself and use self-deprecation as a cover up, so people don’t think I’m conceited, but the truth is, I look amazing.” SO much better than fat talk.
6. When 10 Total Strangers Got Naked Together In Search Of Body Acceptance
In “SHINE,” a video produced by The Goddess Project, 10 women came together to discuss their body insecurities and how they are learning to love themselves.
“We have to stick together and empower each other to overcome all of the stereotypes placed against us,” one participant in the video says. “No matter what we’ve been conditioned to believe, it’s time to step up and recognize how beautiful we really are.”
7. Blogger Gabi Fresh’s Version Of The ***Flawless Music Video
Plus-size style blogger Gabi Fresh teamed up with fellow bloggers Nadia Aboulhosn and Tess Munster to film a cover of Bey’s anthem — this time celebrating larger bodies.
“For me, this video is to show all of my followers that you define your definition of beauty,” Aboulhosn wrote on her blog. “Don’t let anyone tell you to be or look a certain way. We are all flawless and [keep] reminding yourself of that.”
8. The “Fattitude” Documentary
Fat activist Lindsey Averill is teaming up with filmmaker Viridiana Lieberman to make a feature-length documentary about fat discrimination, fighting prejudice against overweight people and helping viewers see that size is not an indicator of worth — big sizes are beautiful, too. The trailer launched in April, and the full film is slated for release in 2015.
9. The “Natural Beauty” Photo Series
Photographer Ben Hopper’s stunning portraits of women showing their underarm hair challenges the idea that women should be hairless to be beautiful.
“The whole point [of the series] is contrast between fashionable female beauty and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair,” Hopper told The Huffington Post. “I expect [the photos] will surprise a lot of people and I guess, in a way, that is one of my intentions.”
10. Zoë Ley’s Body-Positive Fitspiration
“Fitspo” may be the new “thinspo,” and it’s not always harmless motivation. Blogger Zoë Ley of “Weirdly Shaped” created her own hilarious “fitspiration” images deconstructing some of the messages and reminding women that it’s OK if you don’t have rock-solid abs or work out five days a week.
11. CURVES Art Photography Book
Photographer Victoria Janashvili’s images prove that plus-size bodies are fine art, too.
What would you add to this list? Comment below, or Tweet @HuffPostWomen!
Style – The Huffington Post
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