2016 was a big year for body positivity. Yes, ridiculous beauty standards still exist, but this year it felt like loving yourself and learning to accept your imperfections was finally “in style.” This year, we saw plus-size models making strides in the fashion industry, people calling out clothing brands for fucked up sizing, and we watched as dozens of women—both celebrities and non-celebrities—showed off their diverse bodies, shut down their haters, and dared to live life according to their own rules about how they should look.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to size acceptance, getting stores to actually carry quality clothing for all body types, and encouraging the media to represent women of sizes and nationalities. But, for now, let’s focus on the positives. Here are 10 moments when body positivity took the spotlight in 2016.
1. When Ashley Graham made the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Plus-size model Ashley Graham was one of three women chosen to cover this year’s Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. She’s also their first plus-size cover model, ever. “I thought Sports Illustrated was taking a risk by putting a girl my size in the pages,” Graham told People after the cover reveal. “But putting me on the cover? They aren’t just breaking barriers; they are the standard now. This is beyond epic.” Next, she says her goal is to walk in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Get it, girl.
2. When Pink clapped back at body-shamers.
Earlier this year, some Twitter trolls tried to tell Pink she looked “fat” in a dress she wore to a benefit, but the notoriously outspoken star simply wasn’t having it. She shut that shit down in the nicest and firmest way possibly, by posting a note on Twitter that explained she was happy, healthy, proud of her body, and really doesn’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks about how she looks.
3. When this woman celebrated her excess skin.
Instgrammer Aubrey Johansen became a body positive role model this year when she started sharing pics celebrating the excess skin she still has after undergoing gastric bypass surgery and losing more than 150 pounds. She plans to have the excess skin removed in the future, but for now she openly flaunts it in her posts to show others the reality of extreme weight loss and to inspire others to keep going on their journey to getting healthy.
4. When this mom who clapped back after getting shamed for wearing yoga pants.
Mom Kelley Markland actually got hate mail for wearing leggings around her own neighborhood. Some stranger mailed her a letter saying she was too “fat” to wear leggings and asking her to stop. Markland was devastated at first, but then she decided to fire back. She shared the offensive letter on Facebook, where it went insanely viral and launched it’s own body positive movement. Take that, random hater.
5. When Mattel finally gave Barbie different body types.
This year, Barbie finally got a positive makeover. Mattel released 33 new dolls that feature a wide range of skin tones, body sizes, and even different heights. The dolls are part of an effort by the toymaker to change their image and update Barbie for more modern, diverse, and body positive kids. So far, the dolls have been a hit and inspired a whole new generation to love playing with Barbie dolls again.
6. When this Victoria’s Secret model showed off her stretch marks.
The Victoria’s Secret catalogue isn’t usually the place women look to find empowering displays of “imperfections,” but that’s exactly what we got when VS released these photos of Jasmine Tookes with the stretch marks on her hips on full display. Is she still stunning? Of course, and that’s why this photo goes a long way in showing that our so-called body flaws really don’t mean a thing.
7. When this woman proved clothing sizes are basically a lie.
Ruth Clemens wears a size 14 and completely savaged H&M in a Facebook post after she tried on clothes in one of their stores and discovered their sizes are so ridiculously small that she couldn’t even come close to fitting in a size 16 jeans. “It’s already difficult enough for me to find clothes that fit well because of my height, why are you making jeans that are unrealistically small?” she wrote in her post. “Am I too fat for your everyday range? Should I just accept that accessible and affordable high street and on-trend fashion isn’t for people like me?” Cue nods of agreement from every girl who’s ever had to suffer the agony of shopping for new jeans.
8. When Tess Holliday called out our obsession with “post-baby bodies.”
Plus-size model Tess Holliday is an icon for many reasons. She’s gorgeous, fearless, and gives exactly no fucks about how anyone else feels about her body. That’s why she has us singing her praises earlier this year when she called out the tabloids for obsessing over her post-baby body during a totally routine outing at the beach. “What is our obsession with ‘bouncing back’ after GIVING BIRTH?!” It’s absolute fucking crazy town, is what it is, and we’re so glad she spoke out against the BS.
9. When this beauty queen quit after someone told her to lose weight.
Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir is an Icelandic beauty queen who was all set to compete in the Miss Grand International pageant in Vegas earlier this year. But, then the pageant’s owner told her she could stand to lose a few pounds and instructed her to start skipping meals and eating salads. Jónsdóttir responded by dropping out of the pageant with a powerful Instagram post, in which she promised to “eat good food” and enjoy her time in Las Vegas. Girl, slay.
10. When this Walking Dead star who told body shamers to “grow the fuck up.”
Dear Instagram trolls, body shamers, and the men and woman who think it's ok to comment on my weight: I hope that you don't have children. And if you do, I hope you teach them about kindness and acceptance. I hope they learn that it isn't ok to make fun of people or call people names. I hope one day YOU learn what it takes to be a parent. A kind, selfless parent. A working parent. A parent that puts themselves in someone else's shoes. Maybe you can't get it through your thick fucking skull, but nursing a baby for a year (and pumping in a van between takes, in the dead of summer in Georgia) is a lot of work, determination, and scheduling. So before you decide to make a comment about my chest being "too large" or how "fat" I've become, just know that this little girl got the best start to life. I wouldn't have changed it for a second. I would've gladly continued to eat enough calories to produce milk for her little bones to grow. Also, grow the fuck up. Your mother should be ashamed for raising such a judgmental bully. I'm sure she knows how "courageous" you must be for trolling and hiding behind your Iphone and computers. P.s. I would LOVE to see any man or woman give birth to a baby, nurse the baby, and then work 17 hour days and NAIL their own stunts. P.s.s. Be kind to each other. We need it now more than ever. ❤️✌🏼️
Alanna Masterson plays Tara on The Walking Dead and had her first baby right before filming began on the show’s most recent season. Unfortunately, some fans didn’t get the memo that women’s bodies change during pregnancy, and they started tweeting about Masterson, calling her fat and asking why she wasn’t working harder to lose the weight. Masterson fired back in an epic Instagram post that told the shamers to basically fuck off. “Your mother should be ashamed for raising such a judgmental bully,” she wrote. “P.S. I would LOVE to see any man or woman give birth to a baby, nurse the baby, and then work 17 hour days and NAIL their own stunts.”