From showing off stretch marks to clapping back at trolls, these were big wins for body peace.

By Christina Oehler
Updated February 04, 2020
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In 2019, the body positivity movement was as strong as ever, with more women from all walks of life celebrating their physical and emotional selves and refusing to apologize for not meeting cultural beauty standards. These real women took to social media to help get their message across, demonstrating their self-love by sharing unedited images that were greeted with such enthusiasm, they went viral. Here's our look back at the top body positive moments that kept us inspired all year long.

When these moms stripped down to reveal their postpartum loose skin

In November, photographer Meagan Elemans took a series of stunning photos that showed the real, raw bodies of postpartum moms. She shared her photos to Instagram, which featured mothers and their babies in a stunning, unedited light—stretch marks and loose skin included.

“Going through my own postpartum journey inspired these photos,” Elemans previously told Health of the series, which features more than 30 photos. “Postpartum hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt really unprepared and really sad how no one talks about how hard the days after pregnancy are. I heard all about pregnancy but not enough about trying to breastfeed, the soreness, the fear of intimacy, and my soft, empty body.”

When Demi Lovato flaunted her cellulite in a cheetah bikini 

Demi Lovato inspired her fans in August when she shared an unretouched photo of herself in a sexy cheetah print bikini, unabashedly showing off her cellulite and stretch marks.

“This is my biggest fear. A photo of me in a bikini unedited. And guess what, it’s CELLULIT!!!!” she wrote in her caption on Instagram. The post, unsurprisingly, received a lot of likes—over 9 million.

Her message didn't just receive tons of positive comments: some women were so impressed, they created their own copycat posts. Women thanked Lovato for bravely putting the image out there, and they showed off their own unedited bikini bodies, too.

When this woman posted about living in a fat-phobic world 

Meg Boggs, a mother and influencer, shared an emotional post about her frustration with diet culture in early August. Boggs posed on her bed in a bra and opened up about how she’s “tired” of fatphobia and living in a world that “celebrates weight loss at any cost.”

Her followers were thrilled to see her message go viral, and plenty of people shared their own frustrations with society's beauty ideals.

When these influencers starred in a photo series proving every body is sexy

In September, a group of influencers joined forces to create a powerful photo series with an uplifting and important message: regardless of your shape or size, your body is sexy. Six women each shared a photo that made them feel sexy, along with a caption explaining what they love most about their bodies.

Bethanie Garcia, one of the influencers featured in the series, previously told Health: "Once I was actively appreciating and loving my body, I couldn't help but see it as sexy. I started flirting and teasing my husband and wearing lingerie I wouldn't have dreamed of wearing before. I started seeing every roll and curve and dimple as beautiful. I started feeling sexy for living my life unapologetically—regardless of my size. I wasn't worried about what people think or what society's definition of sexy is."

When two friends showed that the same bikini can look amazing on any size

Influencers Ashley Torres and Kristina Zias weren't going to let body shamers tell them who looks good in a bikini, and they demonstrated this in the cutest way possible this year. In June, the two best friends took to Instagram to share a video of themselves wearing the same bathing suit in two different sizes.

"I used to be insecure at the beach comparing myself to friends that were smaller than me, but I’ve realized that every body is built differently and that’s okay," Zias wrote in her Instagram caption.

Torres previously told Health that she hopes their collaboration will encourage other women to stop comparing themselves. “I know a lot of curvy women are insecure in bathing suits, especially around friends that are smaller than them—I used to be one of these women," Zias said. "We wanted to help break those insecurities and show that size does not define beauty."

When this mom ripped off her t-shirt in a "radical act of self-love"

When mom Carly Wright wanted to take her son out for a walk in September, she planned to ditch her t-shirt and wear only her sports bra. But instead of hiding behind insecurity about how she looked with her torso uncovered, she chose to rock her post-baby body and just do her own thing—without anyone else's approval.

“Today I committed an act of radical self-love. In this sunshine, in public, I let the sun graze my skin in all its postpartum glory,” she wrote in her caption. “My new normal. Cellulite. Stretch marks. Saggy skin. My body is beautifully unfamiliar right now. [So] we are getting reacquainted.”

When this woman refused to explain why she has stretch marks

Fact: the female body changes after giving birth. But Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, wanted to make a point that stretch marks can happen to anyone—not just new mothers. In June, Hayim posted a close-up of her butt cheek in a bikini photo, along with a powerful caption about not needing an excuse for why she has stretch marks in the first place.

"No babies. No weight fluctuations. Just a girl who’s lived 30 years and got something to show for it," she wrote in her caption, with no apologies. Hayim's post received over 400 comments, many of which thanked her for her relatable, "refreshing" message.

When Meghan Markle's BFF clapped back at body shamers

In August, Meghan Markle's close friend Jessica Mulroney became the victim of internet trolls after she posted a photo of herself in a blue bikini. She initially took down the post after the negative comments started piling up, but eventually she decided to repost the photo and stand up to the bullying.

“I work hard on every aspect of my life and I’m proud of my body,” she wrote in the follow-up caption. “I’m proud of the work I do. I’m proud that I do. I’m proud that I’m driven. I’m proud of it all. And if we can’t be proud of ourselves, then what’s the point.”

While some people continued to criticize her photo, plenty of supporters backed her up. "If you look good you feel good and I can only imagine how lovely you must feel in this stunning two piece," one person wrote. "Way to own it girl."

When Tess Holliday referred to herself as a "literal work of art"

Tess Holliday is known for her fiercely unapologetic body positive posts, but one this year that really impressed us. In May, the model shared a photo of her tattoo-covered legs while taking a bath. "I'm a literal work of art," she wrote in the caption.

Her post received over 95,000 likes—and once you take a peek at the pic, you'll understand why.

When these moms joined forces to show what post-baby bodies really look like

Mom bloggers Desiree Fortin, Katie Crenshaw, Meg Boggs, and Bethanie Garcia used social media to come together for a common cause. The four mothers wanted to share an unedited photo of their postpartum bodies to help other moms appreciate their own changed shapes. In April 2019, they came together to make it happen. The result? A raw, real photo of four moms who are proud of the way they look, no matter what shape they take.

Needless to say, 2019 was a big year for self-acceptance and self-love. Here's to hoping we see a lot more of that in 2020.

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