#DisabledAndCute: 7 inspiring body positive movements you've never heard of
Social media, rightly or wrongly, gets a bad rep sometimes. Despite warnings that it may be linked to mental health conditions, encourage loneliness, and even prove a threat to personal security, adults in the US still spend on average two hours per day trawling through their various feeds. Yes, we're a world addicted to other people's lives - and somehow, they all seem more exciting than our own.
One of the most frequent criticisms however, is that it promotes a false reality by promoting a perfection that just doesn't exist. After all, we never upload the snaps of us wearing ugly sweatpants, with greasy hair in a messy bun, bloated from dinner and cleaning the toilet, do we? Instead, we post our best moments, the ones that we're sure society will approve of.
Fortunately though, there are a whole load of body-positive movements out there turning social media on its head. Using it to give us a good dose of reality, they're dedicated not only to keeping it real, they're celebrating it too. So let's take a look at a few.
Disabled and Cute
The #DisabledAndCute movement was started by journalist Keah Brown, who lives with cerebral palsy. And while it may have started as one woman’s moment of appreciation of herself, it clearly struck a chord with thousands of other men and women across the world, who started adding their own #DisabledAndCute snaps. To date, it’s been used over 18,500 times, both by those with visible disabilities, and those with invisible disabilities.
We all know how frustrating a nasty spot outbreak can be, and given that acne is believed to affect 50 million Americans annually I'd say the #skinpositivity movement is one that’s long overdue. Encouraging people to accept that spots are a part of life, that everyone gets them and that they don't make you any less epic, thousands of people have stripped off their makeup to bare all. Even celebs have jumped on board too, with Kendall Jenner, Ruby Rose and Cara Delavigne all taking to social media to share their own experiences with acne.
I’m No Angel
No one needs telling that Victoria’s Secret angels have bodies that are simply unattainable for the average woman - Adriana Lima even revealed in 2012 that she went on a nine day liquid diet before the VS show - and the #ImNoAngel makes a point of defying these unrealistic beauty standards. Started by plus-size fashion chain Lane Bryant as part of a campaign, it has since been embraced by women all over the world who have taken to social media to celebrate their curves and post photos of their super-sexy selves.
With inspirational figures such as model Harnaam Kaur, who has a full beard, leading the way in re-defining "beauty", the acceptance of girls with (shock-horror) body hair is slowly making its way into the mainstream. From fuzzy pits to legs with lashes, and even the odd snail trail, the #hairygirls hashtag encourages women to shaft society's expectations and flash their body hair for the camera. And as attitudes slowly shift, you can bet that the #hairygirls movement is only going to get bigger.
Muscles are sexy
How many times have you heard someone say that women shouldn't lift weights if they don't want to get "bulky"? Well, the #MusclesAreSexy movement is here to show that you don't have to be lithe and lean, nor soft and curvy, to be sexy. And this is way more than just gym changing room selfies; proving that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and ages, there's everything from weight-rack bulk shots to this stunning snap by a 50-something dancer.
Love your lines
An estimated 80 per cent of people have stretch marks somewhere on their body, often caused by a period of rapid weight gain, such as pregnancy. And yet, have you ever noticed that you never see an underwear model with them, no matter how many kids they've had? Yep, while some may call them "tiger stripes", the beauty industry still seems intent on airbrushing them out and pretending they don't exist. So in 2014, when women started sharing photos of their own marks with the caption #LoveYourLines women couldn't wait to get involved - and the movement is still going now.
Get Your Belly Out
Get Your Belly Out is a campaign set up by three women from the UK, each of whom has a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. By encouraging people with these conditions to proudly share photos of their stomachs, they have been able to break the stigma surrounding scars and colostomy bags, and encourage body confidence at the same time. Since its inception, Get Your Belly Out has won a string of awards, raised over £69,000 for charity and the hashtag has been used over 10,000 times on Instagram alone.
So whether it's a an angry bout of acne or a bad case of bloating, we all have our hangups and it's often hard to not to compare yourself to other people. But as these epic body positivity movements go to prove, there really is no such thing as a "normal". So next time you're obsessing over what's "wrong" with you, take a scroll through Instagram and remind yourself that not only are you not alone, but that you're also pretty damn awesome.