It’s always important to surround yourself with a girl squad that champions you to be your authentic self and accepts you regardless of appearance. As we spend this month celebrating women’s achievements, we present 13 body-positivity advocates to follow on Instagram.
These models, bloggers, activists, and designers have started an important conversation and are getting results. They’re not only lighting up runways during fashion month—they’re taking action to disrupt the status quo in magazines, clothing ads, and beauty campaigns. Whether they are advocating for fashion for women of all sizes or just stepping out of traditional norms, they are putting their curves front and center and looking gorgeous doing so. Not only do their Instagram feeds show off head-turning portfolios, street style, and behind-the-scenes peeks at photo shoots, they also provide inspiration and much-needed laughs as the ladies showcase their wisdom and wit.
1. Denise Bidot (@denisebidot)
There Is No Wrong Way to Be a Woman: That’s a slogan that grew into a website and a movement when it was launched last year by this model and single mom to inspire women to love themselves and celebrate their individuality. The former makeup artist has also blazed a trail across the runways at New York Fashion Week over the past two years: The Chromat and Serena Williams collections were her first. On her Instagram feed you’ll find empowering statement Ts, outfits of the day, and pre-photo-shoot pics, but you can also find Bidot in the current Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in a bikini with her stretch marks unretouched, an implicit message to women to embrace their unique beauty no matter what imperfections they might believe they have.
2. Georgina Burke (@missgeoburke)
She was the first-ever official face and brand ambassador for the Torrid clothing line. The Aussie model is also featured in the documentary Straight/Curve, which focuses on the female body image and how models are helping redefine society’s beauty standards. Her most treasured posts are of her Wheaten Terrier, Auzwald, but you can also see her working out at the Dogpound in Brooklyn or hanging out with a horse from time to time (she used to compete in equestrian sports) because that’s #howGdoesit.
3. Clémentine Desseaux (@bonjourclem)
A commercial may have made the freckled beauty what she calls "the first plus girl on TV in France," but Desseaux’s making strides in other ways too. She co-founded the body-positive advocacy campaign @allwomanproject to show the industry that a group of women from different ethnicities, ages, and sizes can be successfully represented in the same ad campaign. She also runs a brand-strategy agency that helps fashion clients with art direction, production, and brand identity. The highlight of her news feeds? A special #IceCreamDance. The budding chef and foodie offers up dishes from her own kitchen with follow-along videos and recipes, which she posts on her lifestyle blog, Bonjour Clem.
4. Alessandra Garcia Lorido (@alessandragl)
The daughter of actor Andy Garcia is proud to flaunt the body she got from her mama, as she says in Lane Bryant’s “This Body” campaign. Besides strutting her stuff on Christian Siriano’s fall runway show in New York and Dolce & Gabbana in Milan this year, she is also part of a group of models fighting against the prevalence of eating disorders in their industry along with the Model Alliance and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Another milestone? She was recently tapped for the launch of the “Generations of Wild” beauty campaign by Wet ’n’ Wild makeup. She likes to include post-grooming shots of her dog, Stella, who also has her own IG account, @thegoodlifeofstella. (After all, Stella did co-star in a Tegan and Sara music video for their song “100x.”) Back to Garcia Lorido’s own feed, scroll through candid pics, old and new, of family and friends, like Dakota Fanning.
5. Gabi Gregg (@gabifresh)
The former InStyle contributor, style blogger, model, and designer collaborated with Swimsuits for All on a GabiFresh swimwear line in 2013, and her popular “fatkini” collection continues to create buzz with its new campaign, “New Year, Same You.” Her push for high-end designers to recognize women of all sizes has made her a high-profile advocate in the press. Perhaps that’s why Target invited her and two other influencers to consult on the development of its new Ava & Viv collection (which includes sizes from 14 to 30) as well as model for its 2015 fall lookbook. That same year, Asos tapped her to become the face of Asos Curve’s fall campaign and lookbook. In her street style and travel posts, Gregg exhibits a philosophy that “no rules are the new rules.”
6. Tess Holliday (@tessholliday)
In 2013 she started a body-positive movement with the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards, and two years later landed on the cover of People magazine, which dubbed her the world’s first size-22 supermodel. Last spring, Time magazine put her on its list of the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet. And this past December, Holliday participated in a re-creation of the iconic Victoria’s Secret fashion show with women of all sizes walking the runway in lingerie by Curvy Couture. Now, with her own fashion line, Mblm by Tess Holliday, a collaboration with Canadian retailer Pennington’s, she continues to empower women to feel confident in their own skin.
7. Candice Huffine (@candicehuffine)
Huffine shows off her carefree personality with funny logo Ts and silly candids, but don’t be fooled: The Lane Bryant model can also strike a fierce pose ... and design. She just collaborated with fashion-forward brand Universal Standard on the “Candice” T for their Tria collection, and her feed is sprinkled with #huffineshallway outfits of the day and #fromwhereistand foot shots of sidewalk art. Several months ago, she launched Project Start (@psyougotthis), an effort to galvanize women to begin a running journey, similar to the one she started about a year ago. Now, after running in some races with the help of other women warriors (and her husband), Huffine is on a mission: to show women that the size of your body does not determine your ability to do physical activities like running. Don’t worry ladies, she knows “you got this!”
8. Sabina Karlsson (@thesabinakarlsson)
With her trademark freckles, curly coif, and curvy frame, Karlsson, who has graced the runways of Addition Elle, J.Crew, and Christian Siriano, began working in the industry as a U.K. size 6 but rejected the rigid body standards that modeling requires. Ten years after she’d been a contestant on Scandinavia’s Top Model, she appeared on the TV show as a guest judge, and last year, she was featured in the book and photo exhibition Diverse Beauty, by photographer Alexi Lubomirski. Making waves outside of fashion, she was named one of the faces of the indie beauty line Milk Makeup, and then Maybelline tapped her to do a campaign for its “Break the Mold” lipstick ads. Karlsson is now one of the faces of L'Oréal Paris’s new True Match “Your Skin, Your Story” campaign. Could her feed filled with backstage beauty headshots have influenced their choices? You be the judge.
9. Precious Lee (@preciousleexoxo)
This bombshell is sexy, confident, and not afraid to show a little skin. Lee is often spotted modeling for brands like Addition Elle and Christian Siriano, and she is also one of the faces of Lane Bryant’s three most empowering campaigns, “I’m No Angel,” “Plus Is Equal,” and “This Body.” In fact, with the brand’s “This Body” campaign, Lee made history by appearing in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue—it was a three-page spread too. She is also among the models highlighted in the Straight/Curve documentary.
10. Shay Neary (@shadeyshay)
Neary has been modeling for only about a year, but she’s already busting open doors. Last year, she became the first out non-straight-size transgender model to be featured in a clothing campaign with Coverstory, an online e-tailer that curates fashion for women sizes 10 to 28. From Neary’s feed it is clear that she loves red hair, fake nose rings, and her rescue pup pitbull, Pumpkin (now say that five times). Follow her journey as she promotes self-acceptance, the idea that we all deserve to be seen, and the conviction that every story matters.
11. Bo Stanley (@bostanley)
1/99 times its not workout clothes , wetsuits and fitness 🤣 But really , so glad "athleisure" and these one piece rompers that babies wear too are now a suitable way to dress day to day because my body does not like jeans . The thigh game is too strong ...Any of you ladies feel me on that one?!! 😝😂 #rompersforthewin #athleteproblems #strongisbeautiful
Though she never made it past the first night, this surfer, model, and yoga enthusiast earned bragging rights for being the first non-straight-size contestant on The Bachelor. She has appeared in ads and billboards for Lane Bryant, Athleta, and the Vanity Fair sports collection, and is an outspoken critic of the idea that only surfers of a certain size should be sponsored and featured in ad campaigns. Like some of the women on this list, the athlete works out to be healthy and strong. However, she rejects the idea that women should feel pressured to exercise in order to change their body for some beauty ideal. She uses her platform to dispel that myth and promote the notion that “health and beauty come in many shapes and sizes.” Stanley’s feed is all about surfing moves, yoga poses, and a little beachside fun as well, but that was to be expected, right?
12. Danielle van Grondelle (@daniellevangrondellemodel)
Printqueen and sneakerhead for life @everydaypplnyc 🌊🌊🌊 #printqueen #yesmonkistyle #sneakerhead #baesmentapproved #whatwewearonweekends #curvymodel #plusmodel #curvesarein #curvesfordays #celebratemysize #pmmlovemybody #stylelook #standout #bedaring #daniellevangrondelle #thickfit #thisbody #dvgstyle #stylishmodel #honormycurves #standardrooftop #everydaypplla #daniellevangrondellemodel #jordan11 #chickswithkicks #dvgsworld #teamcurvy
Like Sabina Karlsson, this Dutch beauty also worked as a straight-size model but found it hard to conform to the industry’s strict standards. Since then she has walked the runways for Rachel Roy and Macy’s. This past November, she spoke about her experience at a special women's event for Tedx Rotterdam. The self-dubbed sneakerhead and print queen likes to post shoe selfies and look-of-the-day shots of herself in outfits pulled from her extensive wardrobe of geometric, abstract-patterned clothes.
13. Laura Wells (@iamlaurawells)
The muse for a non-straight-size mannequin displayed in major department stores for Australian lingerie company Berlei, this model is also an environmental scientist who is encouraging women to love their bodies as well as Mother Earth. She has designed an eco-friendly curvy line for Koru Swimwear and was featured in the documentary A Perfect 14. Her feed includes snapshots of her adventures hiking, scuba diving alongside seals and manatees, and taking selfies with dolphins. Her self-deprecating humor and zeal for #protectwhatyoulove and #protectyourplayground are contagious.