2016: A Year for Body Positivity By Taline Loschiavo

The mainstream media has been known to perpetuate the notion that in order for a woman to be attractive, she must possess a specific body type. Advertisements, magazines and television have influenced women to take drastic measures to attain this body ideal; we're talking about juice cleanses, over-exercising, crash diets. The endless quest for that thigh gap. Even starvation.

Picture-perfect models that can be seen all over social media don't help this cause. They set an unrealistic standard for girls and women across the globe.

Kendall Jenner for Calvin Klein. The main takeaway from this ad? If you want to be "original and "sexy" you need to look like this. And own Calvin Klein of course.

As unmoving as the media has always been in this regard, 2016 has brought on a noticeable shift. Yes, a lot more work still has to be done, but the only way to create change is to celebrate the small victories. And there are many of them.

Today we have strong, pioneering women who are changing the way women are portrayed for the better. The body positivity movement has caught fire, and there are so many moments in 2016 that have broadened the definition of a beautiful body.

The first person we need to talk about? Ashley Graham. This plus-sized beauty has revolutionized the modelling industry.

Graham on Sports Illustrated Swim.

When Graham posed for Sports Illustrated Swim in 2016, she made history as the first size-16 model to cover the magazine.

Another crazy stride towards body-positivity? In November on 2016, Graham, who was named Glamour's woman of the year, got her very own barbie. Yes; it has her curves. This was a major moment because Barbie Manufacturer Mattel had always been criticized for the lack of diversity shown in their dolls.

Barbie has long been a target for promoting unrealistic body ideals and impossible physical proportions, making this a huge stride in the right direction.

Another inspirational woman who promotes self-love and body positivity is Jessamyn Stanley. She is a yoga teacher, who travels the world giving yoga seminars. The guardian wrote an article about the yogi in August of 2016. Stanley, who joined instagram in 2012, left people in both shock and awe.

"I was getting responses to my pictures that said: 'Wow, I didn't know that fat people can do that.' "

Jessamyn Stanley striking a challenging yoga pose.

Redefining what a "yoga body" looks like, Stanley proved that you can achieve anything regardless of your weight. She completely defies all typical yoga body stereotypes.

Another trend that was especially prevalent in 2016 is the infamous stomach roll photo that kept popping up on instagram.

This shows that even those hailed as "the fit ones" are just as imperfect as everyone else.

In fact, social media has been a great vessel for the body positivity movement, especially instagram. Numerous photos are posted everyday to help promote a healthy body image and celebrate all body types and sizes.

A data visualization of some of the most commonly used body-positive hashtags on instagram.

Another memorable moment would easily be the lingerie campaign Lena Dunham and girls co-star Jemima Kirke shot for the brand Lonely. All photos were un-retouched, showing off imperfect skin, touching things, and full stomachs. They look absolutely beautiful, and they're refusal to be photoshopped sent a powerful message.

Another win for body positivity in 2016 was when lingerie line AERIE casted 20-year-old Barbie Ferreira to star in their un-retouched campaign. Ferreira, a curve model, even comments on how important not retouching photos is in one of the commercials.

Lastly, Chrissy Teigen, a well-known model has also jumped on the bandwagon. Teigen recently had a baby, and as such, has stretch marks (like most women do). The model chose to not take the conventional path of hiding them, but to instead post a photo and shed light on the fact that being a model doesn't make you immune to stretch marks.

And there you have it. A round-up of all the awesome moments for body positivity in 2016.

Here's hoping to an even better 2017.

BODYLOVE

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