In an ideal world, body hatred would be a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, in the real world, it's very much present. Women spend an estimated 335 hours a year doing their hair and makeup, would rather lose $1,000 than gain 20 pounds and regularly experience fat discrimination. Clothing companies shun plus-size customers, actresses are told they're "not pretty enough," and more people are dieting than ever before.
But amidst all the negativity, there are people working to reassure us all that bodies of all shapes and sizes are worthy of love and respect.
Here are six amazing projects that will remind you to love your body (some images below are NSFW):
1. The "Lustworthy" series by Jes Baker and Liora K.
Jes Baker, The Militant Baker blogger, teamed up with photographer Liora K to create a series of mock ad campaigns featuring a couple where one person was traditionally "attractive" and the other traditionally "unattractive."
"In the hundreds of ads that exist, we never see atypical bodies represented which simply perpetuates the myth that non-traditional bodies are undesirable," Baker told the Huffington Post in an email. "Liora and I wanted to take something straightforward and primal and insert bodies representative of what we should see, but don't. The effect is stunning."
2. This comic denouncing "body shapes."
Pear-shaped, apple-shaped, ruler-shaped -- whatever. We love this comic by Molly Alice Hoy, reminding us that you should dress and act however you want -- not how magazines tell you to based on a fruit metaphor for your body.
3. "Illusions Of The Body" by Gracie Hagen.
Photographer Gracie Hagen asked her subjects to pose in traditionally "sexy" poses, and juxtaposed those pictures with images of the same women showing their bodies in an "unflattering" light. The results call into question what "attractive" really means, and how authentic traditional attractiveness really is.
"'Illusions of the Body' was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like," Hagen told HuffPost. "Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering."
4. Zoë Kohen Ley's positive fitspiration series.
"I used to use thinspo (and to a lesser extent, fitspo) images in an effort to motivate myself... but they just just made me feel awful all the time," Ley told The Huffington Post in an email. "Cultivating more positive messages is really important to me, for myself and others. I believe that each person has to strike whatever balance is healthy for them."
5. This video which proves that you can be an incredibly talented dancer at any size.
When Whitney Thore gained 200 pounds over just a few years and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, she wasn't sure she would ever dance in public again. But, after learning to love herself and her body, she created a video series -- Fat Girl Dancing -- to show the world that the ability to dance one's a** off has nothing to do with size.
"I am fully dedicated to supporting fellow women in ridding ourselves of shame, and showing that I am NOT ashamed of my body," Thore told HuffPost.
Thore also started the No Body Shame campaign, which promotes body acceptance and "recognizes body shame as a complex, multi-faceted issue that is best dealt with by first unapologetically loving yourself as you are, without being shamed out of a gym or off a dance floor."
6. "10 Honest Thoughts On Being Loved By A Skinny Boy."
This slam poem, written and performed by Rachel Wiley at the 2013 National Poetry Slam, perfectly captures the angst of dating a slimmer man. We love every line of her poem, but one particularly resonates: "I say, 'I am fat.' He says, 'no, you're beautiful.' I wonder why I cannot be both."
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