A 2019 Trend We Love: Body-Positive Models

Photo: Nathan Congleton (Getty Images)

As we near the end of another decade, there’s a major turn of events our generation can proudly put its stamp on: body positivity within the modeling industry.

Arguably one of the most abusive and unfair industries in existence, modeling has been long overdue for a big shift. Thanks to the women below, we’re not just seeing an Ashley Graham-type model every blue moon, but an entire takeover of different body types, genders, and fighters who are smashing stereotypes around what it means to be beautiful.

If there’s one trend we love going into 2019, it’s that of models who aren’t afraid to show the world their true beauty are more popular than ever. Below are just a small handful of primary body-positive influencers worth following.

Marsha Elle

An amputee model who, according to People, continues to inspire kids with prosthetics at Shriners Hospital by being a counselor and mentor.


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#tbt @lady.e.photography MUA @ditavondiva_mua Hair @sherohaircollection

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Denise Bidot

Denise is a plus-sized model and activist who is credited for helping to start the no-Photoshop movement. She’s happy to show off her bare stomach, including stretch marks and cellulite with no retouching whatsoever.


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When it’s Friday and you are wondering who’s gonna win the crown of @nuestrabellezalatina

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Tatyana McFadden

This Paralympic athlete doesn’t let anything stop her from achieving her athletic dreams. McFadden has garnered 17 medals, including a win at the 2018 Boston Marathon.


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Live your best life….. and be the change you want to see ….because I am and you can too #nike #nikewomen #nikerunning #equality

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Jenny Gaither

Gaither doesn’t look like your stereotypical coach but she’s a master SoulCycle instructor and dancer who also started a non-profit called Movemeant Foundation, which fundraises to promote body positivity and athletic scholarships.


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Walking into this week feeling like I’m about to turn 81 when really I’m just turning 31 #oldsoul. I’m leaving town right after my 8a Wednesday class this week to rest, reflect and celebrate this crazy ass life we live. Click at noon today to catch me before I leave! Xo @jorgeq

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Allison Kimmey

Here’s another body-positive role model who’s more than just an Instagram celebrity. Kimmey has also started a non-profit called Girlphoria, whose mission is solely to empower young women.


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As I began to share my top 9 posts of 2018 last night, I got through about four posts and realized that the rest of the moments that had gotten the most “likes” weren’t necessarily my favorite moments of the year. And it made me think – that’s what happens in life, too. We get into this cycle of performing. We have a desire to be liked, and worthy and valuable…and most of the time we measure that by some number (likes, pounds, money etc). But when we live our lives trying to please others, trying to be validated by others, living for the acceptance of others—- then we aren’t living for ourselves. My favorite moments didn’t happen in these little curated squares. They happened in the chaos, in between the picture perfect moments, in the cracks of life when no one else is watching. They were the late night hot tub convos with my hubby, the nights that I couldn’t sleep bc I had so many ideas running through my head, watching my son help his sister after she broke her arm, seeing my husband rise above adversity time and time again. They were in the quiet moments I spent talking to God and seeing His works unfold before my eyes, in the joy of every day life, in the thousands of messages I received from women and girls expressing their gratitude, in laughing at failures and finding strength in lessons learned, in overcoming my fears, and in making lifelong plans with my hubby. The year ahead is one of growth. Blooming. And firmly planting myself right where I am. The seeds have been planted, and I’m ready for the water and the sunshine to lift me higher. Here’s to 2019. May we live for us, and just DO us, every single day. Happy New Year babes! Xoxo Allie

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Jessica Quinn

She lost her leg at the age of nine due to cancer and is now a model because “people don’t often look as they do in photographs.” Yes, Ms. Quinn, you are awesome.


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Recently I spoke out against images of me being photoshopped and a month later here I am on my first magazine cover 100% as me & could not be prouder if I tried. It just doesn’t make sense that we are trying to preach for young girls to be comfortable in their skin yet images of people are still being manipulated in magazines or in the media or on social media to look somewhat “perfect”. I think it’s time we stop and ask ourselves why? Why are we pushing for this unattainable beauty? Why are we trying to fool people into thinking people are something other than what they are? It would be BONKAS for me to photoshop a real leg onto my fake leg to hide what makes me unique right? So why are we photoshopping people to remove the things that make them human?! I can’t thank the team at @missfqnz enough for projecting a real & raw magazine to not fool but inspire young girls to be comfortable in the skin they are in. I’m not perfect but NEWSFLASH, none of us are. You were born to be real, not perfect. Never, EVER forget that!

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Winnie Harlow

Harlow is a former America’s Next Top Model contestant who has a skin condition called vitiligo, which causes sections of her skin to lose pigment. She hasn’t let her condition stop her from conquering her dreams.


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gimme some

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Precious Lee

Lee is one of the faces of Lane Bryant who also made history as the first black plus-size model in Vogue.


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@gabifresh snapped this shot & designed this fire ass swimsuit… she’s very Virgo #bts

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Iskra Lawrence

Lawrence has helped lead an “un-retouched” campaign, has been a Self magazine contributor, and has been an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. She also undressed in a subway in New York City to promote body positivity.

Candice Huffine

This marathon finisher and model created a movement called @PSYouGotThis, meant to help inspire people of all sizes to take up running.


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I get just thinking about how special and life changing tomorrow will be for all the runners of the @nycmarathon! And if it weren’t for @themattpowers I would have never known that fact from experience. If it weren’t for that dare he threw my way over margaritas to commit to doing something that always had scared me (running), I would not be the person I am today, guaranteed. He pushed me to live beyond my wildest imaginations and tomorrow I am so proud to watch him crush his second marathon!!!! Ignite that course with your energy babe!!! Then hurry back so we can go for burgers! You got this!!!! #POW! #howwasyourdaywon

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Jessamyn Stanley

Stanley is a body-positive model quickly gaining an impressive following who is also a fantastic yoga instructor.


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New Orleans and Santa Fe catch me teaching at studios near you in January (the weekends of January 5th and 19th respectively). Link in bio for details and to register.

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Behind the scenes: Female Model Instagram Problems We Can All Relate To (or Not) 

Täo Porchon-Lynch

How many 100-year-olds do you know? How many do you know that are experts at yoga? Porchon-Lynch still serves an inspiration to every generation. One of her favorite mantras is, “This is going to be the best day of my life.”


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I encourage you to try before saying you can’t. #Tao

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Imogen Fox

She may be a person with a disability, but she doesn’t her disability define her.


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I am not an inspiration because I am a disabled person. I am not brave, I do not endure or suffer and I am absolutely not an inspiration. When you say those things, you make my life & in turn my body less worthy than yours. Your good health is a privilege. But that doesn’t in turn make my body somehow unfortunate or undesirable. Saying you couldn’t battle what I do suggests that a) I possess something you don’t (I don’t) or that b) living in my own skin is so horrifically unbearable you need super powers in order to manage it. I realise that feels to you like a compliment, that it comes from a place of kindness, a compliment, but it is insulting. In reality many won’t have any idea of what it is like to live the life I have lived in an impaired body, so your frame of reference for what might or might not be difficult is both limited & likely impacted upon by what the media have told you about my life as a cripple (similar to how you’ve been told you have to look as a woman, and we’ve all agreed that’s bullshit, right?) My body is more than my impairment, it’s more than any perceived limitations. Suggesting I’m inspiring due to a blip in my genetic code means that everything I have worked for as a person is worthless & that my impaired body is the only part of me anyone sees. I want to inspire you because I write powerfully & love radically. I want to encourage you because I am an ally in this political movement. I want to be seen as a critical thinking with important messages. So be aware, when you repost disabled bodies, when you talk about us in comments, when you praise us. We don’t want to be your inspiration porn we want to be noticed, acknowledged & appreciated for what we offer as people

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Harnaam Kaur

Bullied because of her facial hair, Kaur has polycystic ovarian syndrome, which causes a hormone imbalance. It’s her condition that leads to growing a full beard. However, Kaur embraced her body as a teenager and hasn’t looked back. She even led a Ted Talk last spring.


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Have you ever seen an Indian Mermaid? Yesterday was such a fantastic day! @babbuthepainter @moomalproartist and I got together and created such a fantastic look for a very special photo shoot! I can not wait for everyone to see the final images. Watch this space I had both girls handling my breasts all day yesterday ‘Two gyal on my side, me in the middle’ Body glitter & Gems – @thegypsyshrine – @moomalproartist Professional images all taken by @babbuthepainter

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Sabina Karlsson

Instead of conforming to an unhealthy weight, Karlsson listened to her body and joined the plus-size movement, embracing her real, natural, beautiful body.


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As you know I love Monday’s, Fall and @jcrew

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Gina Susanna

Susanna battled eating disorders before embracing her body. Now she uses her story to inspire others, saying “life is too short to spend it at war with your body.”


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IT’S OFFICIALLY NEDA WEEK and that means it’s my FAVORITE week because we get to talk about all the ways we can create a stronger and more impactful community of BADASS ED WARRIORS!! I’ll be posting on my story all week AND on my page about all sorts of things ED-related, so if you have any suggestions for things you’d like me to cover HIT ME UP in the comments! (And if you want to get one of these incredible shirts, they’re this year’s @aerie + @neda collaboration where 100% of the profits go directly to NEDA ) #mentalhealth #neda #nedaweek #nedawareness #eatingdisorderrecovery

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Danielle Brooks

We know her as Taystee on Orange Is The New Black, but Brooks is also an open book on social media, posting about her struggles with self-esteem and her confidence. She’s also just as open about her victories, running her first Spartan Race last year.


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Today’s mood. #tbt

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Another inspiring model: Tatiana Pajkovic Is Taking Us Back to Old School Modeling With Real Women

It’s clear that people crave other people who are “real.” We hope this celebration of people who aren’t afraid to be themselves isn’t just a trend, but a movement that sticks for good.