Turning to celebs to look for role models is a tricky business, especially when it comes to admiring their appearance. For many actresses, athletes, and artists, keeping their bodies slim or muscular is part of their job. Plus, they have personal trainers, private chefs, stylists, and make-up artists to keep them looking camera-ready whenever they’re in the public eye.

But whether we like it or not, kids and teens look to celebrities for inspiration on how to look, act, speak, and more (and even if they’re not in kid-targeted media, kids see these folks on magazine covers, music videos, and other sources).

These are the celebrities who share their inspiring stories, personal triumphs, self-acceptance, and decisions to speak out against the industry’s standard of beauty and size, body-shaming, and we hope to see more of this trend.

"I represent the majority of women and I'm very proud of that," says Adele.

“I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that,” says Adele. Photo: AFP

Adele, singer

The incredibly talented and award-winning singer and songwriter isn’t skinny. And although we’ve seen other famous folks start out plump and then slim down as their fame grew, Adele seems perfectly comfortable in her skin and shows no sign of changing her looks. In fact, when fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld made a disparaging comment about Adele’s weight, she shot back with, “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.” This cemented her place in the positive-body-image role model pantheon.

Lena Dunham, actress, producer, author

Lena Dunham arrives on the red carpet for the 65th Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck

Lena Dunham refuses to be shamed into covering up. Photo: AFP


Creator of the hit HBO series Girls, Dunham initially got lots of press for being naked on-screen … a lot. Although the press focused on her not-thin figure, Dunham refused to be shamed into covering up. She remains one of the few female TV leads who isn’t rail thin. “I really feel good with my size now,” she says. “I know when I say that people are like, ‘mm hmm’, but I just do! It used to be when I went into a room with all thin women I felt like, what’s wrong with me? Now I just feel special.”







Mindy Kaling, actress, producer, author


Kaling speaks out against the pressure to slim down.

Kaling does not only write and produce her own material, but also breaks the mould by being larger than the average (underweight) TV star and not letting that stop her from being dressed flawlessly, writing romantic story lines for herself, and speaking out against the pressure to slim down.








Gabourey Sidibe, actress

Gabourey Sidibe poses with her award for best female lead for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, at the 25th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles, March 5, 2010.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

“If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty,” says Gabourey Sidibe. Photo: REUTERS

The star of Precious has gone on to roles in American Horror Story and Empire. Simply her presence on TV and the red carpet is a statement that full-figured ladies deserve to be seen and heard. Her comments on her appearance are inspiring.”If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable,” Sidibe said at the Gloria Awards and Gala, hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar-award-winning actress

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Actress Lupita Nyongo attends the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images/AFP== FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==

Lupita Nyongo speaks proudly about learning to love the colour of her skin. Photo: AFP

She had a small but powerful role in 12 Years a Slave, but it was her starring role on the red carpet in 2014 that made Nyong’o a star. She became a fashion darling in the world of Hollywood, where dark skin like hers is rarely celebrated. Her speech at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon about learning to love the colour of her skin is inspiring for all.








Melissa McCarthy, actress

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 31: Actress Melissa McCarthy attends CBSs Mike & Molly 100th Episode celebration at Cicada on January 31, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP== FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==

McCarthy takes the high road when it comes to comments about her weight. Photo: AFP

The comedian is famous for her physical humour – traditionally the territory of the large actor or actress – but she defies the stereotype by being incredibly funny and standing up to mean comments about her weight by taking the high road.









Amy Poehler, comedian, actress, producer

epa04593982 US actress Amy Meredith Poehler holds her Hasty Pudding Pot following the roast portion of Hasty Pudding Theatricals 2015 Woman of the Year at Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 29 January 2015. The Hasty Pudding Theatricals honors annually a performer who has made a lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment. EPA/CJ GUNTHER

Amy Poehler collaborates on a project that talks about body image. Photo: EPA

Aside from her great work as a smart, self-assured leader on Parks and Recreation, Poehler also collaborates on a project called Smart Girls, answering readers’ questions about topics ranging from finding courage to feeling good about your body. – Common Sense Media/Tribune News Service