The body-positive movement has had one hell of a 2016. For the past 12 months, the movement to expand the lens of beauty and humanity has accomplished feat after feat, much to the chagrin of those who still view attractiveness as an exclusive club very few should have access to.
The body-positive community has made innumerable gains this year, but here are 20 in particular that are worth celebrating:
Ashley Graham ran the world, in more ways than one.
The 28-year-old body-positive model had an incredible 2016. She became an "America's Next Top Model" judge, designed a sexy swimsuit line for Swimsuits For All, scored her first Vogue cover, slayed Joe Jonas' "Toothbrush" video, and even got her own Barbie doll.
Best of all, the Lane Bryant model stayed true to herself, baring her cellulite and all.
Hello Kitty partnered with Torrid for the quirkiest fashion line of 2016.
The beloved kitty brand released the limited edition collection in July. The 11 pieces, including leggings, crop tops, and dresses, ranged between $39 and $69. Best of all, Torrid tapped plus-size blogger Amina Mucciolo to be the face of the bold fashion line.
A few pieces from Torrid's Hello Kitty collection are still available, by the way.
Gabi Gregg released another Swimsuits For All collection to die for.
Gregg, who's also known as Gabi Fresh, revolutionized plus-size bikinis in 2013 when she partnered with Swimsuits For All for her first SwimSexy collection. Three years later, the fashion blogger released a collection that made us all swoon.
Beyond her bikini domination though, Gregg and some of her closest chic friends also made us all green with envy when they took over Santorini, Greece for her big 3-0 birthday.
Barbie released a line of dolls that really mirror real women.
Barbie finally got the memo in 2016: Children deserve dolls that don't harm their body image and self-esteem. After decades of criticism, the iconic children's doll creator released a line of realistic Barbies that come in an array of sizes, hair textures, and skin tones.
As Revelist's editor-in-chief, April Walloga, noted, the new line reinforced the idea that beauty comes in many sizes.
Barbie is plastic, but the doll has a tangible impact on children. Acknowledging that, and making changes to address it, is what progress is all about.
Tess Holliday championed breastfeeding — and made it look glamorous, too.
The 30-year-old model gave birth to her son, Bowie, in June, and she's been normalizing breastfeeding ever since. Holliday has posted countless photos of Bowie breastfeeding and also spoke openly about how she's balancing motherhood and modeling.
A photo posted to Instagram in July showed Holliday breastfeeding Bowie while she got her makeup and hair whipped for a photoshoot. "It reminded me of [Gisele Bündchen's] iconic photo breastfeeding on set," she wrote in the caption. "Working moms come in all shapes, sizes, colors & creeds!"
Plus-size mothers are often left out of the breastfeeding conversation, so seeing Holliday openly discuss her journey is inspiring as fuck.
Beyond her mothering skills, Holliday also dropped an inclusive fashion line with Penningtons in March. The collection ranges from size 14 to size 24 — and everything costs less than $100.
Refinery29 revolutionized stock imagery with "The 67 Percent Project."
In September, a study in "The International Journal of Fashion, Design, Technology, and Education" found that the average American woman is between a size 16 and 18. Yet, media images often display thinner women as the pinnacle of beauty.
To combat this, Refinery29 partnered with Aerie, Lane Bryant, and Getty Images for "The 67 Percent Project," a collaborative project that aims to make the "invisible majority" visible. They created new stock images featuring plus-size women with Getty, launched the #SeeThe67 hashtag, and made actress Danielle Brooks the official spokeswoman. Refinery29 also chose photos of plus-size women for 67% of the images on their site and social media pages.
Do you hear that? It sounds like revolution.
The Golden Confidence pool parties rocked several major cities.
Plus-size women often have a love-hate relationship with pool parties, beaches, and anything that requires them to flaunt their curves in swimsuits. Blogger Essie Golden turned that idea upside down with her Golden Confidence movement.
Golden Confidence is a digital movement that features women of all sizes showing off what their mamas gave them. Golden took her movement offline in 2016 with pool parties in cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. Plus-size women showed up and out — as they should.
Golden told Revelist in June that the Golden Confidence pool parties are all about giving plus-size women a haven to be themselves.
"I wanted to create a safe and positive space for plus-size women to wear their swimsuits and enjoy the summer — to have a judgement-free night surrounded by women who look like them," she said.
Aerie cast Barbie Ferreira as the face of its amazing fashion campaign.
It has been two years since Aerie, American Eagle's lingerie line, stopped Photoshopping models in its advertising campaigns. #AerieREAL continued its momentum in 2016 by casting curve model Barbie Ferreira in another round of unretouched advertisements.
In one commercial, the 20-year-old model got real about the importance of self-love.
"Not being retouched in the images is something that's very important to me," she said. "People knowing that's what I look like without anyone's perception of what my body needs to look like. The world needs more women who are so strong."
The #UnfairAndLovely Twitter campaign took on global colorism.
Colorism, or a system that privileges lighter skin, is rampant around the world. Skin complexion is a deciding factor in many life outcomes, including prison sentences, education, and marriage. Scholars have been researching colorism for decades, but three friends — Pax Jones, Mirusha Yogarajah, and Yanusha Yogarajah — created a social media hashtag to combat it.
As Nyong'o said on Instagram, #UnfairAndLovely is a social media campaign worth supporting.
Dascha Polanco bared it all time and time and time again.
The "Orange is the New Black" actress evolved into a body-positive fashion queen in 2016. She unapologetically flaunted her curves in naked jumpsuits at a New York Fashion Week after party, the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors ceremony, and Telemundo's Premios Tu Mundo. She also turned heads when she wore a bold and fly bodysuit to The Blonds' New York Fashion Week show.
Polanco also got real about the way designers mistreat plus-size celebrities. In an interview with Vogue, the 34-year-old actress said one of her favorite designers refused to dress her because of her curvy body.
"It's disappointing, but I try to work with up-and-coming designers who will make things for me and who will collaborate with me," she said. "People who love my curves and embrace them as much as I do."
She also encouraged other women to be as confident as she is:
Every day, women have to boost themselves up. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'I am fabulous, I am beautiful, I am me, and I am my own best competition.' I always say to my followers and myself that the outfits are armor, because at times it almost hides what I feel. I look back at my old red carpet pictures where I wasn't as confident, and it shows in the images. Now that I've gotten older, I realize that life is short — I'm building that confidence, and doing things as far as fashion that I’ve never done before.
#MermaidThighs, a hashtag that celebrates women without a thigh gap, blew up on Instagram.
#MermaidThighs became one of social media's most powerful body-positive movements in August. It is the perfect response to the "thigh gap" trend, which promotes an unrealistic and unattainable beauty standard.
Women flooded Instagram with photos of them flaunting their "mermaid thighs" and boosting their confidence in the process.
One of the most elite fashion schools finally incorporated more plus-size mannequins.
There are over 100 million plus-size women in the world, but fashion still fails to create clothing that fits larger bodies. Apparently, that might start in the elite fashion schools that educate the world's next great designers. One such school, the Parsons School of Design at The New School, got called out in September for only having one plus-size mannequin to design on.
Nayyara Chue, a junior at Parsons, created a petition to encourage the school to include more plus-size mannequins.
"It is in all of our most [faithful] beliefs that the school should keep its word on housing the designers of tomorrow and adopting progressiveness as their motto; installing more plus-sized mannequins in our classrooms would open a lot of doors to emerging designers who believe in sizes higher than 8," she wrote.
Parsons responded. In an update on the petition, Chue said the fashion school purchased more plus-size mannequins for students to work on. Progress!
A popular vlogger began pushing Disney to create a plus-size princess.
Disney introduced Moana, the first Polynesian princess, and Elena, the first Latina princess, in 2016. Loey Lane, a plus-size fashion vlogger, is now pushing the iconic children's brand to create a plump princess who encourages children to love their bodies.
It began in March when Lane, aka the "not-so-little mermaid," posted a YouTube video explaining why Disney should consider creating a plus-size princess.
"I think it would be so cool to have princesses with different body types," she said. "I know for me, growing up, having curvy Disney princesses would've been so reassuring for me."
She didn't stop there though: Lane then partnered with Cosmopolitan to further plead her case.
"We can't all look exactly the same, and that's a huge reason why I think it's important for there to be more diversity in everything young boys and girls costumes," she told Cosmopolitan.
We hope Disney is listening.
The #WeWearWhatWeWant hashtag encouraged plus-size women to rebuke beauty standards.
Plus-size women are always being told that certain trends don't work for their bodies. Plus-size model and blogger Simone Mariposa refused to adhere to those limitations in 2016 — and she encouraged other women to forego them as well.
Mariposa created the #WeWearWhatWeWant hashtag in July to encourage fellow plus-size women to rebuke beauty standards. "My main goal was to help women own their bodies and their curves, and not hide and conform to what society says, or what people think," she told Revelist then.
She definitely accomplished that with nearly 10,000 women using the hashtag on Instagram alone.
ASOS cast gorgeous plus-size male models to give us all the feels.
Plus-size male models aren't well represented in fashion, but ASOS aimed to change that in 2016. The popular retailer extended its size range from XL to 4XL for men — and hired some succulent male models to represent the size shift.
The internet lost its collective mind over the gorgeous men, including 22-year-old actor Scotty Bayliss. More than that though, ASOS proved that plus-size men matter in fashion too.
Television finally featured a fat character with a real love story.
NBC premiered "This Is Us" in September to much critical and commercial acclaim. The show has many tearjerking plots, but the love story between Kate and Toby has quickly become a fan favorite. The plus-size couple have experienced several ups and downs throughout the first season, but their love — and weight-loss journey — reigns supreme.
Kate is the multidimensional protagonist all fat women deserve to see and relate to.
Lane Bryant created the empowering and inspiring #ThisBody campaign.
Lane Bryant is still one of the few retailers that exclusively caters to plus-size women. In 2016, they solidified their position as one of the best with the awe-inducing "This Body Is Made to Shine" advertising campaign.
Lane Bryant tapped Gabourey Sidibe, Danielle Brooks, Ashley Graham, and a few other plus-size women to star in the campaign, which featured them stripping down and expressing beautiful messages about self-love.
They let all women know their bodies are beautiful without qualifiers, especially with the inclusion of Denise Bidot's stretch marks in a subsequent campaign.
Well done, Lane Bryant.
Model Natalia Castellar's bushy eyebrows became her superpower.
Natalia Castellar used to be teased for having thicker-than-normal eyebrows. The 17-year-old told W Magazine in October that the torment even made her consider shaving off her brows.
"When I was younger they were all anyone would point out," she said. "I was bullied terribly because of how thick and long they were, so I wanted to shave them down."
Now, her gorgeous brows have become her modeling superpower.
"It wasn't until thick brows started trending that I started feeling more confident," she said. "Now I don't care if they stay trendy or not, I love my eyebrows. They set me aside from other models. They're my trademark, and I wish I would have embraced them sooner."
She's now signed to the NEXT modeling agency and booked gigs with NARS and Mansur Gavriel. How's that for overcoming bullies?
An amazing activist and model won a world record for her beard.
Harnaam Kaur, a body-positive model, has a six-inch beard. The 25-year-old broke an unusual world record in September when she became the youngest woman with a full beard.
She announced her feat on Instagram. "I am super proud to hold this record, the inner child in me is so pleased. It is amazing to be valued and celebrated being a Bearded Lady," Kaur wrote. "I hope those who read or see my record can take away positivity, inspiration and realize that no matter who you are or what you look like, you are officially amazing!"
Kaur also walked in a London Fashion Week show in March.
An 88-year-old great-grandmother proved there's good in the world by landing a major fashion campaign.
Age ain't nothing but a number — and 88-year-old Baddie Winkle proved it in 2016. The great-grandmother became the face of Missguided, a teen-focused clothing brand. In a press release, Missguided said that Winkle is the perfect spokesperson because she lives life on her own terms.
"She's been slayin' it since 1928, and is a true icon — inspiring people to wear whatever and be whoever they want, ignore the basics, and always, always stay wild," they said. "Describing herself as 'savage with a golden heart,' she is the badass 88-year-old that we all want to be."
That's an understatement.