STYLE

Body Confidence Goals - The Girls You Need To Be Following

29/03/2016 15:19 | Updated 29 March 2016

With heavily filtered and edited selfies, thigh gaps and A4-sized waist challenges, social media is full of dangerous and negative body trends that are best avoided.

Scratch the surface just a little and you'll find there are also plenty of body image heroes to worship on social media: ladies who look, think and are fabulous and whose pics make us feel happy, inspired and ready to kick some butt.

ronda rousey

Models, Olympians, activists... the body image heroes you need to be following know that being body beautiful doesn't mean conforming to one specific shape, size or cookie-cutter look.

Major #GOALS.

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misty copeland dancing
Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theatre
Twitter: @mistyonpointe
Insta: @mistyonpointe

You may recognise the incomparable Misty Copeland from a starring role in an underwear advertising campaign, which made the world take notice of a new kind of ballerina as a counterpoint to the delicate, waif-like dancer we traditionally expect.

Copeland's athleticism, strength and fierceness make her a role model to be reckoned with; she's also breaking down racial barriers as the first African-American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

Misty's perseverance and strength remind us to never - not ever - give up on our dreams. After all, this is a girl who faced rejection after rejection and was repeatedly told she had the "wrong" body to be a dancer.

"I was the only black woman in a company of 80 plus dancers for a decade. I felt like I didn't belong. I heard I wasn't right for the company. I wasn't right for ballet. My skin was too dark. I was too muscular. My bust was too big," Copeland said in a video at the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation's 2015 PowHERful Summit in New York City in July 2015.

Well, just look at her now.

ronda rousey

Ronda Rousey, Mixed Martial Artist, UFC Bantamweight Champion
Twitter: @RondaRousey
Insta: rondarousey

Ronda Rousey is a fighter - both inside and outside the ring. She wore only body paint for her turn in one of the coveted cover spots of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition 2016, and is always first to speak up for female empowerment and against body fascism.

When she accidentally posted a Photoshopped image of herself on Instagram earlier this year, Rousey apologised to her 7.7 million followers, writing:

"I have to make an apology to everyone - I was sent a picture to share on social for Fallon that was altered without me knowing to make my arms look smaller. I won't say by who - I know it was done with severely misplaced positive intentions - but this goes against everything I believe and I am extremely proud of every inch of my body."

demi lovato
Demi Lovato, singer, songwriter and actress
Twitter: @ddlovato
Insta: @ddlovato

In the saccharine-sweet world of teeny-boppers and Disney princesses, Demi Lovato has consistently remained an outspoken voice who believes that women shouldn't aspire to look like cartoons. She's opened up about eating disorders and self-harming and championed everything from the makeup-free selfie to mental illness awareness.

She's also not afraid to open up about how she's learned to love - and accept - her body over the years.

"I'm not naturally super thin. I have an athletic body. I just have to embrace that. There are days when it's hard to, but more and more, there are days where I'm actually proud of my body," she told Complex magazine in Oct/Nov 2015.

ashley graham
Ashley Graham, model and designer
Twitter: @theashleygraham
Insta: @theashleygraham

While it may sound pretty obvious that we should be embracing body types of all shapes and sizes on TV, in adverts and everywhere, women like the gorgeous Ashley Graham aren't as ubiquitous on the pages of glossies as they should be.

Happily, Graham is helping to change all that: not only did she score one of three Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2016 covers, she also landed on Forbes' 30 Under 30 list.

She told the magazine her success comes down to her "hot body."

"It sounds a little misogynistic, but I also think that it's great because I have a body that the average-size American woman has. And I'm using it to let other women know that you are beautiful."

#beautybeyondsize. Amen to that.

chrissy teigen
Chrissy Teigen, model and cook
Twitter: @chrissyteigen
Insta: @chrissyteigen

We would love to hate Chrissy Teigen, believe us. Beauty, fame, fortune, John Legend, a baby on the way - she's got it all. And we can't get enough of her because she tells it like it is.

She's relatable so we feel like we know her and she overshares all the time, whether she's posting photos of her bruised legs and stretch marks or of herself applying body makeup.

Also, she's a model who loves her food and is always posting pictures of her favourite dishes, like her own-recipe mango-salsa chipotle chicken or the many delicious-looking burgers she enjoys.

Since she's not afraid to make fun of herself, she'll say things like:

"I have never been ashamed to say that I love really dirty food that maybe has high-fructose corn syrup, maybe the ingredients have stuff from old yoga mat parts or whatever," Teigen told The Daily Beast.

#Girlcrush.

jillian mercado

Jillian Mercado, model, blogger and disability activist

Twitter: @jilly_peppa
Insta: @jilly_peppa

The latest face of Beyoncé's new campaign, Jillian Mercado is challenging the fashion industry's beauty ideals with her killer style and body-positive outlook - and she's doing it all from her wheelchair. Mercado has muscular dystrophy, but that hasn't curbed her modelling career: she's signed to IMG Models and has appeared in Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book and a campaign for Diesel - so far.

"We should embrace every inch of our bodies because that's what we got. It won't be easy, but the moment you start accepting yourself for who you are, life changes for the better and you'll never look back," she told Vivala.

tess holliday
Tess Holliday, model and activist
Twitter: @tess_holliday
Insta: @tessholliday

Tess Holliday has spearheaded the digital movement to accept yourself, love yourself, and embrace who you are and what you look like. The size 26 model has appeared in campaigns for the likes of H&M and Benefit and started the #effyourbeautystandards campaign of body-positive mantras and images.

As Holliday says: "I hope this makes you realize that it's okay to be yourself, even if you happen to exist in a fat body. I'm sexy, confident & give no fucks. Also, fuck anyone for saying otherwise."

lauren brooks crossfit

Lauren Brooks, Crossfit Games athlete and co-owner of Crossfit Salvation
Twitter: @LaurenBxfit
Insta: @cflbrooks

When it comes to #squadgoals, female Crossfit athletes are pretty much endlessly inspiring, in part because of their jaw-dropping strength (squatting 400lbs anyone?) and unwavering dedication to the sport.

Lauren Brooks' rise as a Crossfit athlete has been meteoric: in just a few years, the mum of two has made it to the elite level - she placed 7th in the 2014 Games - with no background in weightlifting or gymnastics.

Brooks' social feeds are full of inspiring quotes ("Toughness knows not gender"), workout tips and amazing pics of her muscles (those thighs!). She also opens about her insecurities, posting motivational messages like:

"The way you view YOURSELF is most of the battle. I am learning to build myself up, instead of tearing myself down. Don't give up on what you want. Charge at it full force with a vengeance. A N Y T H I N G is possible."

serena williams
Serena Williams, tennis star currently ranked number 1 in women's singles tennis
Twitter: @serenawilliams
Insta: @serenawilliams

Serena Williams is the reigning champion of the French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic women's singles and doubles, and she's just as powerful off the court. This is one body image hero who has never had a problem silencing her critics, especially those who have a problem with the way she looks.

"For every negative comment, there are 300,000 positive ones," Williams told The Miami Herald in August 2015.

"My fans are incredibly supportive. I look like a normal athlete, a normal woman walking down the street, a thicker one. I’m OK with that. I love that. You have to be OK with yourself no matter if you’re size 0 or a little bigger, like me. A lot of other people say I inspire them to be comfortable with themselves. My mom was really strong on that, on learning to love yourself."

Amen to that.

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