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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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