If you asked most people if they think that the body positivity movement is a fairly new movement, chances are the majority of them would say yes. Given that in the past few years the words “body positivity” have made their way into the popular media, it’s not surprising that it seems “new”. However, these top body positive influencers have been championing the movement for years.
What is Body Positivity?
Body positivity has its roots in the fat acceptance movement of the 1960s when people came together in Central Park to protest discrimination against fat people and to advocate for the acceptance of fatness as a mainstream thing. People ate together, burned papers and other forms of media that hailed thinness together, and spoke out against anti-fatness together.
The fat acceptance movement did not stop here. In 1969 the National Association to Aid Fat Americans (NAAFA) was created in an effort to spread awareness regarding fat discrimination as a civil rights issue. This organization still exists today and has evolved to address issues such as weight bias in healthcare, employment, and education, all of which have a significant effect on fat peoples’ social and economic mobility in this country.
While the movement has been around for decades now, it is important to acknowledge that the movement was not always as inclusive as it is today. As a matter of fact, despite the fact that Black, queer and disabled bodies played a massive role in the growth of the movement, they have not necessarily been given the recognition they deserve. Before there were influencers and corporations on TikTok and Instagram promoting body positivity online, there were fat black femmes and fat women of color speaking out against fatphobia and discriminatory beliefs about fatness online.
In short, there are a lot of creators these days that seem to forget about the origins of this movement and in doing so miss the whole point of a movement that was created to encourage the radical acceptance of fat, queer, black, and disabled bodies. However, there are many top body positive influencers out there that are putting in the work to honor the fat acceptance movement and the people it was made to support in the name of radical social justice, most of which are Black women who have been able to curate platforms that promote intersectionality.
Below is a list compiled of 10 top body positive influencers that couldn’t care less about beauty standards.
1. Stephanie Yeboah
Stephanie Yeboah is an author, award-winning blogger, body acceptance advocate, writer, and public speaker who uses her blog and her Instagram among other forms of media to have conversations about body politics, mental health, and self-acceptance. She recently wrote a book titled Fattily Ever After about how she navigated growing up dealing with racism and fatphobia. In this book, she speaks candidly about misogynoir and the fetishization of black plus-sized women as well as her experiences with dating online and feeling lonely in her experience as a bigger black woman
Yeboah’s articles on her blog range from lighthearted titles like “Plus Size Sweaters to Jump On this Winter” to more serious topics like “The Portrayal of the Fat, Black Woman” and “’FAT’ is NOT a bad word.”
Yeboah’s work does not stop there. She has also worked with brands like Dove, Meet Flamingo, and Cult Beauty and was featured in a trailer for Bumble UK and Ireland’s #MyLoveIsBlackLove campaign, a campaign in honor of Black History Month created for the purpose of celebrating what black love means to people in Britain.
At 231K followers on Instagram, Yeboah is constantly blessing people’s feeds with outfit ideas, product recommendations, black-owned business recommendations, recipes, and honest conversations about her body and her feelings towards her body.
2. Elvia Muñoz
Elvia Muñoz is a Mexican content creator based in Los Angeles who is known for providing midsize style inspiration, encouraging people to wear whatever they want, and supporting businesses owned by black people and other people of color.
As one of the top body positive influencers, she has worked with Latinx-owned brands like Hija De Tu Madre and has collaborated with companies like Merit Beauty and EBY by Sofia Vergara and Renata Black. Her daily posts consist of Day in the life videos, makeup tutorials, clothing hauls, Get Ready With Me videos, and “confidence talk” videos in which she outlines how she has gained confidence over time as someone who has not always had the best relationship with her body.
Muñoz has accumulated over 6K followers on TikTok and has over 1.5K followers on Instagram. Despite the fact that she has a lot of room to grow, Muñoz is a fantastic source of representation for Latinx people, specifically mid-sized people who are struggling to find someone they can relate to online.
How important is relatability online? Read more about the value of relatability in influencers and brands at the forefront of online marketing here.
3. Kadeeja Sel Khan
Kadeeja Sel Khan is an Afghan beauty blogger and makeup artist turned acne model and skin activist based in the UK. Her story was popularized when she took to social media after a negative experience with L’Oreal after the brand reached out to her to participate in the launch of a new vegan hair dye but then went back on their word claiming that they could not include her in the campaign because of her skin issues.
Since then, Sel Khan has created a safe space for people of all skin colors and textures online as she continues to share makeup-free, unedited photos of her skin with the goal of normalizing acne. Furthermore, as part of her body acceptance work, she is extremely forthcoming when it comes to her personal issues with PCOS and how these issues ultimately affect her self-worth.
Sel Khan has received many honors for her work, one of those being a ‘Keeping It Real Influencer 2020’ Award from Fabulous Magazine and her story has been featured on Allure, Elle, Cosmopolitan UK, The Sun, American Vogue, Teen Vogue, and British Vogue.
Sel Khan has become an inspiration to her 410k Instagram followers due to her honesty and the documentation of her skincare journey. She is definitely someone worth following, not only because of how she encourages people not to fall into the trap that perfection equals beauty but also because she is a pillar of the body positivity movement.
4. Michelle Elman
Michelle Elman is a life coach, author, TEDx Speaker, and body acceptance advocate, and is most recognized for her campaign called Scarred Not Scared, a campaign created to support people with scars who might have felt lonely the way Elman did after multiple surgeries throughout her life.
Since the launch of her campaign, Elman has gained over 300K followers across all of her social media platforms and has worked with brands like Dove, BooHoo, Johnson & Johnson, among other well-known brands. She has also gone on to appear on TV and radio all around the world, such as BBC Radio London, and has given speeches at multiple events for brands like Sony Music and Hearst.
In addition to writing for Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and SELF, among other reputable publishers, she has also written some of her own books, such as her book called Am I Ugly?, and her newest book that was just recently published in 2021 titled The Joy of Being Selfish.
All in all, it is clear that Elman is a force to be reckoned with given that what started off as a small campaign in support of body acceptance and self-love has evolved into an empire dedicated to empowering people of all shapes and sizes.
5. Kellie Brown
Kellie Brown is a content creator, speaker, writer, YouTuber, self-love advocate, creator of the hashtag #FatAtFashionWeek and Fat Icon Podcast, and founder of AndIGetDressed.com. Brown created the #FatAtFashionWeek hashtag in response to the fashion industry’s erasure of fat bodies and the lack of body diversity in New York Fashion Week. Via her YouTube channel, her Instagram, and her blog AndIGetDressed.com she spreads the message of self-love by talking about her relationship with her hair, body, and skin, as well as how she expresses herself through her personal style.
In addition to content creation, she has collaborated with Amazon and their The Drop initiative to create a collection inspired by her mother and the 70s style she grew up admiring. Her goal with the collection was to create clothing she used to be afraid to wear prior to getting to where she is now in her self-acceptance journey. The collection features colorful prints, puffy dresses, and matching sets, all of which go up to size 3X.
Like the other top body positive influencers on this list, her audience loves her. She has managed to reach 149K people on Instagram, 5K followers on Pinterest, and 64.7K subscribers on YouTube, the majority of which follow her for her gift guides, plus size outfit ideas, skincare and makeup tips, life advice, and body acceptance advocacy work. Instead of simply stating that she wants there to be impactful change in the fashion industry and in the world as a whole when it comes to inclusivity, she takes it one step further by actively breaking down barriers that uphold racism and fatphobia.
6. Dana Patterson
Dana Patterson is a mental health advocate and body acceptance influencer who has been a model for decades. She has racked up 440K followers on Instagram and about 215.9K followers on TikTok. However, she has not always been so well known.
Her career began when she signed with Ford Models but it was not until she signed with Wilhelmina in Los Angeles that her struggles with her body became a bigger issue. During this time in LA, she turned to social media to talk about her eating disorder recovery. On her Instagram, she explains that although she only had about 1000 followers, she did it because she felt the need for the community support that would allow her to talk to other people with similar experiences to hers.
She doesn’t consider herself a regular influencer given that she likes to have uncomfortable conversations about social issues, body positivity, human rights, skincare, and fashion. Her content ranges from how brands are failing the plus-sized community to what her favorite Sephora foundations for oily skin are.
Patterson has acknowledged that she has stepped back from being at the very front of the body positivity movement in an effort to respect its origins and to allow marginalized people of color, disabled people, and black people to take up more space in a movement that was created by and for them. Additionally, she has announced that she prefers radical body acceptance and neutrality over body positivity as she does not support toxic positivity.
7. Javiera del Pozo
Javiera del Pozo joined TikTok in 2020 in the midst of a pandemic and went viral in August after posting a video dancing with her mother. Since then she has gained over 340K followers on Instagram, 184K YouTube subscribers, and currently has 544.8K followers on Tiktok. Her content is dedicated to her Chilean roots and a commitment to being transparent with her followers by doing try-on hauls, promoting size inclusive brands, being honest about weight gain/loss, and constantly posting unedited pictures of herself.
Javiera has worked with all kinds of brands, such as Reebok, Too Faced Cosmetics, Fashion Nova, Savage x Fenty by Rihanna, Boohoo, and American Eagle, among other companies. She has also done a collaboration with Nasty Gal called NastyGal by Javi that showed off the brand’s spring collection which dropped on April 26, 2021. In addition to these brand deals, del Pozo is signed with BTWN MGMT, which is a modeling agency representing a range of body shapes and sizes.
Thanks to her supportive words on various social platforms she has taught thousands of people how to love and accept their bodies by promoting the idea that “confidence is not size exclusive,” and telling her followers that no matter what they look like or what size they are, they deserve love and respect.
8. Naomie Chaput
Naomie Chaput is a model based in Montreal who goes by “Nao.” She is an advocate for the plus-size community and is known for calling Future, a well-known rapper, out for saying no “fatties” were allowed at a nightclub in Miami called Story that Chaput and her friend were planning on going to.
Chaput went viral after posting a video on Instagram stories explaining how a promoter told her friend that Future had specifically asked that big girls not be allowed into the club while he was there. After reaching out to his management and receiving no response, she dmed the rapper herself but unfortunately was not met with an apology.
Aside from her work defending plus-sized women, Nao is also working with brands like Pretty Little Thing, Parade, Fashion Nova, and recently dropped her own edit in collaboration with RebDolls. She participated in the Vogue Challenge and was featured on the Vogue website after submitting a faux-cover of herself to the magazine, and her work, specifically a Rihanna 032c Magazine-inspired photoshoot she did, has been featured on the 032c Magazine website. In addition to these accomplishments, she was featured on Teen Vogue in an article titled “12 Best #DontRush TikTok Challenge Videos” in April of 2020 after participating in the #DontRush TikTok Challenge.
Viral hashtags and TikTok trends are so effective for bringing attention to issues and brands. Learn more about utilizing viral TikToks in this blog.
Through her Instagram account, Nao provides her 334K followers with all kinds of interesting and inspiring content, such as mood boards, her own art, makeup tutorials, her personal life, cooking videos, and posts about her appreciation for her body.
9. Megan Jayne Crabbe
Megan Jayne Crabbe is a body acceptance advocate, anorexia survivor, content creator, and writer who has dedicated her Instagram to fighting fatphobia and using her voice to speak on how beauty standards are racist, ableist, ageist, cisnormative, and capitalist.
Her candor and commitment to contributing to the fat acceptance movement have garnered her 1.3 million followers on Instagram over the years. There’s a reason she made it on our list of top body positive influencers
She has been featured in People, Teen Vogue, Bustle, Redbook, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed among other media outlets, and throughout the course of her career has come out with the following two books: Body Positive Power: How to Stop Dieting, Make Peace with Your Body and Live and Body Positive Power: Because Life Is Already Happening and You Don’t Need Flat Abs to Live It.
10. Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis is a body acceptance advocate, model, and dancer born in South Carolina. His desire to start his body positive fashion blog called “Notoriously Dapper” grew out of a bad experience he had one day while he was out shopping when a sales associate shamed him for being “too big.”
Davis’ blog content includes outfit ideas for men to show that clothes and fashion are for everyone as well as blog posts about self-love.
Davis has also modeled for brands like Gap and has worked with Bonobos to promote the brand’s newly released extended sizes up to size 54 and 4XL.
Since he started, Davis gained 15K blog subscribers and has accumulated over 92K followers on Instagram all because of his approach to talking about the things he loves like fashion whilst having important discussions about his body and creating a platform for men to come together and discuss their insecurities without having to feel ashamed.
Keep Being Body Positive
This is all to say that the body acceptance movement did not start just yesterday, as a matter of fact, it started long before all of the people on this list were born. However, with the rise of social media, there has also been a rise in influencers, specifically creators with a vested interest in propelling the body acceptance movement forward.
While some influencers have used the body acceptance movement as a marketing strategy without actually doing anything to support the movement in an impactful way, there are many, such as all of the ones I have listed above, who have taken the time to educate themselves about the origins of the movement and who have dedicated their platforms to advancing the movement rather than centering the movement around themselves for monetary gain.
The purpose of this post is to shine a light on these top body positive influencers who are fantastic creators and to share their work in hopes that their platforms might inspire others.