TIME Body Image

Bye, Bye, Barbie: 2015 Is the Year We Abandon Unrealistic Beauty Ideals

Cali Girl Barbie waves from the front seat of a Chevy SSR du
Cali Girl Barbie waves from the front seat of a Chevy Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Barbie sales figures continue to drop, unrealistic ideals are losing clout both in the toy and fashion world

It may be time for Mattel to roll out Retirement Barbie. Friday morning, the toy-maker announced that the doll’s sales dropped 16% in 2014, marking Barbie’s third consecutive year of falling earnings.

“The reality is, we just didn’t sell enough Barbie dolls,” CEO Bryan Stockton explained to investors last January, following Mattel’s disappointing 13% drop for 2013. The decline of the company’s premier product lead in part to Stockton’s resignation on Monday. But a corporate shakeup might not be enough to counteract the almost 56-year-old doll’s waning allure. The problem might not be sales strategies, but rather the doll and the impossibly slim body ideals she represents.

The push for more realistic, “body positive” images of girls has been gaining momentum over the least year and not just in toys. In 2014, Barbie sales plummeted, while a doll with an average woman’s proportions gained viral success; full-bodied models were integrated into high fashion campaigns without fanfare; e-retailer ModCloth announced an anticipated doubling of its sales after introducing plus sizes; the single All About That Bass which celebrates curvy bodies became such a commercial success that, no, you will never get it out of your head; and Kim Kardashian’s famously ample butt broke the internet.

After decades of false starts, maybe we are finally ready to move away from unattainably slim ideals.

Fashion: Plus Size Integration Isn’t a Passing Trend

When we think of lingerie ads, winged Victoria’s Secret Angels flutter through our minds. But in November, alone, three high fashion institutions displayed a fuller understanidng of feminine beauty.

Seductively posed in a rubber leotard, Candice Huffine debuted as the first plus-size model to be featured in Pirella’s prestigious calendar in December:

A Vogue online gallery featured sexy lingerie starred women with F rather than B cup sizes. “Going into this, we assumed that the beautiful, delicate, lacy bras that we all prefer would only be available in the smaller cup sizes, but we were thrilled to find a real wealth of options for a huge variety of body shapes,” editor Jorden Bickham tells TIME in an email.

And Calvin Klein used Myla Dalbesio in its “Perfectly Fit” underwear campaign. Dalbesio, a size 10, told Elle, “It’s not like [Calvin Klein] released this campaign and were like ‘Whoa, look, there’s this plus-size girl in our campaign.’ They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus-size girls.” (This interview incited misappropriated backlash against CK when the Twitterverse thought Dalbesio was incorrectly cast under the “plus size” category — she wasn’t).

While the internet reacted to the seamless integration of fuller bodied models into these campaigns, the models were presented by designers without fanfare.

“There were no big tamborines, no big calling out of the size thing,” Emme, widely regarded as the first plus-size supermodel (even though she eschews the moniker), tells TIME. “It’s just so old. Saying ‘Oh she’s plus size, yippee!’ and making a big deal of that.”

Tess Holliday

Although there was certainly fanfare when size 22 model Tess Holliday was signed to MiLK Model Management last week — making her the first model of her size to ever be represented by a major agency.

“It was unheard of, I never even tried to get with an agency,” Holliday, 29, tells TIME. “One of my friends even said, ‘Isn’t it crazy that you’re in the news for being the biggest plus size model when you’re the true size of a plus size woman.'” Holliday says that the average plus size model is between size 8 and 10, even though the average plus size woman is bigger. “There has always been an issue with [designers] using smaller plus size models and if they wanted one who was a little bit bigger or curvier, they would pad her because they said they couldn’t find good quality models above a size 16.”

In the past, Holliday was barred from castings due to her size. But in the past week, Holliday says at least designers who refused to work with her in the past have now called to book her for a job. “If they want me then they’ll pay for it.”

Many of Holliday’s critics complain that she sets an unhealthy example for women, but the model notes that she is active, has a trainer, and works out at least four times a week. It should also be noted that just as skinniness does not connote healthiness, being a plus size doesn’t connote unhealthiness.

While Holliday is currently an anomaly, Muse Model Management president Conor Kennedy tells TIME that the fashion industry opening its doors to a variety of body sizes is a consistent movement rather than a “flavor in the moment” passing trend.

Vogue

“A few years ago there was a little burst where there was an Italian Vogue cover”—in which plus-size models seductively posed over… spaghetti—”and then V Magazine did a shoot, and then it tailored off,” he says. “The past two years it’s very different because there are all types of editorials. I think that the next breakthrough we are looking for are campaigns, and we’re starting to see it now.” Curvier celeb cover subjects like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are also changing perceptions in the fashion industry.

Kennedy has noticed increased excitement on the creative side of the industry over a diversity of sizes as a desirable aesthetic choice and greater openness in castings.

“But there’s an evolution on both sides of the spectrum,” he says. “It’s also a great thing for business.”

Retailers Finally Recognize an Untapped Market

Clothing makers are finally beginning to understand that if they increase their offerings — and we’re talking fashionable offerings rather than an increased muumuu selection — in the “plus size” category, it will be beneficial to their bottom line. With the “average” American woman wearing a size 14, that’s potentially 100 million potential customers.

“It’s a huge market and it’s totally underserved” ModCloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koder told CNBC.

When Koder decided to expand the e-retailer’s plus size division, she reached out to 1,500 vendors for help — and only 35 responded. But a year into the expansion, with 100 vendors on board, Koder told Business Insider that she expected sales to double in 2014.

According to the market research firm NPD Group, plus-size clothing sales increased 5% last year to $17.5 billion. E-retailers are taking advantage of this rise. In December, plus size fashion e-retailer ELOQUII raised $6 million in Series A funding. But brick and mortar retailers still have room for improvement.

But the quality must improve as well because, at the moment, full bodied women are searching for — but often not finding — fashionable outfits that go up to their size. Stylist Sal Perez explained the difficulties in trying to dress Rebel Wilson for her role in Pitch Perfect 2 to the New York Times.

“I am horrified by some of the clothes I find in the stores,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing polyester.”

Target premiers its plus-size line

After interacting with six different designers who wouldn’t dress her for the Oscars, Melissa McCarthy decided to launch a fashion label of her own that will offer both plus and “regular” size clothing.

Larger retailers are finally getting the message as well. In mid-February, Target will launch a plus-size line called Ava & Viv that is designed specifically for “the plus-size woman who loves fashion.”

“Women want to go shopping together,” Emme says. “If you eliminate the plus size department that’s always in the basement or next to maternity, and you increase the numbers of 14, 16 and 18’s, you are going to make more money than you have ever made.”

To illustrate her point, Emme recalls a plus-size fashion show she attended with her daughter at Macy’s. At the end of the show, the 13-year-old asked if Emme thought a particular dress came in her size — she didn’t see it as undesirable for a larger demographic, but as beautiful clothing displayed on a beautiful model who she would like to replicate.

“A lightbulb went off,” Emme says. “I don’t think the younger generation sees it as size. They see beauty as it is.”

The End of Barbie

New trends in toy sales serve as fiscal evidence that children also want natural, realistic beauty — rather than unattainable ideals. Barbie, who has seen her share of criticism for being an anatomically impossible mutant, is losing her clout among girls–and their parents. As people stopped buying Barbies, they crowd-funded an alternative to the tune of $500,000.

Touted as the “normal Barbie,” Lammily dolls are built to the measurements of an average woman, based on CDC data.

The “normal” Barbie, created by Nickolay Lamm, Lammily

“This is the doll people have been waiting for,” Lamm told TIME when he prepared to ship tens of thousands of dolls to eager backers before the holidays.

“She looks like a regular girl going to school,” a second grader said when she was presented with a Lammily doll.

“She’s not like other dolls,” said another. “She looks real.”

One of the reasons that Lamm was able turn the Lammily doll from a concept to an actual product was because his original sketches of the “normal Barbie” — meant to simply be an art project — went viral. Its traction online indicated to Lamm how thirsty people were to celebrate the beauty of reality.

While #thinspiration and unhealthy body ideals that promote eating disorders or worse certainly exist on social networks, an easily outraged Twitterverse is quick to call companies out for promoting body negative ideology.

People will no longer stand for Victoria’s Secret creating an advertisement that puts the wording “Perfect Body” over a slew of skinny skinny models. The company quietly changed its ads after an onslaught of social media outrage. And, some 20,000 people will sign Charge.org petitions when they find out that Old Navy charges more money for items that come in plus sizes. (The retailer didn’t fully capitulate, but it did change plus size policies.)

Holliday, who started a viral #EffYourBeautyStandards online campaign, attributes her recent signing and burgeoning career to her dedicated social media following. “People aren’t used to seeing someone who is fat and happy,” she says, which could be why her 415,000 Instagram followers so eagerly await her posts.

“It’s not a trend, really — it’s happening,” Emme says. “It’s the tipping point.”

TIME Body Image

Target Is Launching a Plus-Size Fashion Line Women Actually Might Want to Wear

"It's good to know that a brand is listening"

In August, blogger Chastity Garner wrote a compelling takedown of Target — announcing her decision to boycott the retailer for failing to offer its popular designer collections in plus sizes.

That boycott is coming to an end.

On Wednesday Target announced Ava & Viv, a new fashion brand designed specifically for “the plus-size woman who loves fashion.” The line, designed by Target’s in-house team, offers clothing in sizes 14W to 26W and X to 4X and will be available online and in stores come mid-February.

The retailer invited Garner and two other plus-size bloggers to its Minnesota headquarters to sample the line. “It looks beautiful on my body type and my shape,” Garner says in a video chronicling their visit.

In spite of its far from perfect relationship with plus-size fashion — Target’s site displayed plus-size offerings on maternity models and described a plus-size dress as “manatee gray” (the “normal” dress was “dark heather gray”) — its strategy thus far with the Ava & Viv line could actually teach other retailers about how to better approach selling plus-sized clothing.

First of all, Target is emphasizing that the clothing line will make trendy design choices a priority.

“This guest is really a fashion-forward woman who happens to be a plus size,” merchandising SVP Stacia Andersen told Women’s Wear Daily. “When we put out pieces that stand out a little more, items that are more chic, more trend-driven and more statement in nature, they tended to perform.”

Even though though the plus-size demographic makes up 37% of U.S. consumers, it only makes up 15% of the clothing industry’s sales because most labels don’t design for the lucrative market, Fast Company reports.

And when they do design plus-size clothing, the available styles are rarely fashion forward.

“I am horrified by some of the clothes I find in the stores,” stylist Sal Perez explained told New York Times when explaining her difficulties in trying to dress Rebel Wilson for her role in Pitch Perfect 2. “I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing polyester.”

Actress Melissa McCarthy decided to launch a fashion label after interacting with six different designers who wouldn’t dress her for the Oscars.

Target is also selling the clothing at a reasonable price point, between $10 and $79.99. This is a striking contrast to stores like Old Navy, who recently came under fire for charging more for plus-size items.

Marie Claire contributing editor and plus-size blogger Nicolette Mason joined Garner to sample the line and also shared her thoughts in Target’s video.

“It’s good to know that a brand is listening,” she said.

TIME Body Image

See How One Artist Dramatically Changes Bratz Dolls to Look Like Real Girls

Artist Sonia Singh is giving them a much needed make-under

Tree Change Dolls

When examining a Bratz doll, you might notice the toy resembles a weirdly sexy lady-alien with plumped-up lips rather than the 12-year-old girl she is marketed to.

Frustrated by this trend, Tasmanian artist Sonia Singh went to local thrift shops with a mission to find dolls that were in need of a very necessary make-under.

“These lil fashion dolls have opted for a ‘tree change,’ swapping high-maintenance glitz ‘n’ glamour for down-to-earth style,” Singh writes on her Tumblr.

Singh repaints their faces, re-conditions their hair, molds them new shoes and then dresses them in clothing sewn and knit by her mother.

The change is dramatic:

Tree Change Dolls
Tree Change Dolls
Tree Change Dolls
Tree Change Dolls

In the spirit of supporting positive body image and women’s rights, Singh tells TIME she is asking supporters to donate to the International Women’s Development Agency. She’s also planning to start selling the “rescued and rehabilitated” dolls on Etsy. And if the recent success of realistic Barbie alternatives is any indication, she will be very successful.

In November, artist Nicolas Lamm began shipping out the Lammily doll, which is essentially a Barbie recreated with the CDC’s measurements of an average 19-year-old woman. More than 13,621 backers contributed more than $500,000 to his crowd-funding campaign, ordering more some 19,000 dolls.

“I wanted to show that reality is cool,” Lamm told TIME.. “And a lot of toys make kids go into fantasy, but why don’t they show real life is cool? It’s not perfect, but it’s really all we have. And that’s awesome.”

See the updated Bratz dolls here.

TIME society

See How Beauty Trends Have Transformed Over 100 Years in This Mesmerizing Video

The second in a series

One model. One minute. One hundred years of iconic beauty looks.

Cut.com created a timelapse video that shows a century’s worth of beauty trends on African American model Marshay. This is the second in a series. The first video — same concept but with white model — has been viewed almost 19 million times on YouTube in less than two months.

Watch the two videos side-by-side:

TIME beauty

Plus-Size Model Ashley Graham Says Don’t Call Jennifer Lawrence Curvy

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" - Los Angeles Premiere
Actress Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 17, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Jon Kopaloff—FilmMagic

Model Ashley Graham, who has appeared in Vogue and Elle, lambasted Hollywood’s treatment of women’s bodies in an essay for Net-a-Porter’s online magazine, The Edit.

The model, who is a size 14, writes: “I think that you can be healthy at any size and my goal is to help and educate women on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 22 as long as you’re taking care of your body, working out, and telling yourself, ‘I love you’ instead of taking in the negativity of beauty standards.”

Though she acknowledged that Hollywood starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Lopez have worn their curves with confidence over the years, Graham said she thinks that girls need to see more women on TV and in magazines who have healthy figures. “Young girls don’t have much to look at, curvy women are not on covers of magazines, they’re not talked about on social media as much as other celebrities. Jennifer Lawrence is the media’s poster girl for curves — she’s tiny!”

Lawrence has spoken in the past about how she was told she would lose a job if she didn’t diet, to which she replied, “You can go f-ck yourself.”

Read next: Fargo’s Allison Tolman on How to Fix Hollywood’s Body Image Problem

TIME Body Image

‘I Jiggle, Therefore I Am': This Empowering Ad Shows Healthy Women Come In All Sizes

"This Girl Can" celebrates active women in a refreshing way

Do images of hard-bodied models with unattainably chiseled abs lure people to the gym or keep them on the couch?

Research carried out by U.K. government agency Sport England found that 75% of women want to be more active. They don’t, CEO Jennie Price explained in a release, due to “a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again.”

And so Sport England launched a new kind of campaign, using real talk and real women to promote a healthy lifestyle. Cellulite and all.

“I swim because I love my body. Not because I hate it.”

“I’m slow but I’m lapping everyone on the couch.”

“I jiggle, therefore I am.”

The campaign serves to remind the world that women’s bodies are supposed to move when they move. And that skinniness does not always connote health.

The women here might not be ripped from an Equinox ad, but after public cries that models in a 2012 campaign looked unhealthily thin, that might be a good thing.

TIME beauty

See How 6 Women Got Over Their Body Image Issues

These women decided to embrace their shapes

  • Maura Pagano

    Real Women
    Maura Pagano Joao Canziani

    Age: 24
    Occupation: Recruiter
    Home: New York City

    Maura’s hang-up: “My calves and ankles have never been proportionate to the rest of my body. I always used to hide them under long, black pants.”

    What helps her let it go: “As I get older, I’m learning that what’s more important than covering up my imperfections is how confident I am. In this dress, I feel sexy—it shows off my chest and my shoulders and highlights my waist. If every other part of me looks this good, no one will stare at my calves.”

  • Rosalie Khan

    Real Women
    Rosalie Khan Joao Canziani

    Age: 41
    Occupation: Senior digital associate
    Home: Jersey City

    Rosalie’s hang-up: “I’m self-conscious about my body, especially my stomach, so I don’t normally wear anything clingy. Because I know they’ll fit me, I stick to baggy clothes. That also means I won’t have to drag out the try-on process.”

    What helps her let it go: “Pulling on skinny pants was a revelation. They actually made me feel slimmer. The fabric of this pair is stretchy and thick, and there’s a panel to hold in my tummy, creating a nice, smooth line. I feel comfortable—and even trendy.”

  • Danielle Hamblin

    Real Women
    Danielle Hamblin Joao Canziani

    Age: 43
    Occupation: Adjunct professor
    Home: White Township, New Jersey

    Danielle’s hang-up: “I have never been thin. While I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to be so, I sometimes think it’s just not meant to be.”

    What helps her let it go: “In comparison to the more serious challenges faced by other people, I’ll take this one. Besides, I have an air of fun about me, and I like that to show in what I wear. This sheath’s mix of prints offers that, yet the shape is professional and flattering. It plays up my waist and hits right at the knee.”

  • Rushmi Mehan Soni

    Real Women
    Rushmi Mehan Soni Joao Canziani

    Age: 25
    Occupation: Senior marketing manager
    Home: New York City

    Rushmi’s hang-up: “I used to love my lean waist. Then I got pregnant, and I was all belly. After I had the baby, I still had a belly. I struggled with that for a while because the weight fell off so easily everywhere else.”

    What helps her let it go: “Now I laugh at how much I talked about bikinis in my 20s. I created my son—of course my body is different these days. I remain somewhat self-conscious, but there are clothes to address the issue. This draped top gave me a trim-looking waist again.”

  • Arielle Devay

    Real Women
    Arielle DeVay Joao Canziani

    Age: 35
    Occupation: Sales-development executive
    Home: Astoria, New York

    Arielle’s hang-up: “I’m very curvy above and below the waist. When I wear something loose, I look bigger than I am. And when I wear something formfitting, I can end up looking like a floozy. Neither is a great option.”

    What helps her let it go: “I’ve found it’s important for me to choose silhouettes that accentuate my waistline, such as a fit-and-flare dress. This provides a nice balance between showing off my waist and being work-appropriate.”

  • Kate Snyder

    Real Women
    Kate Snyder Joao Canziani

    Age: 37
    Occupation: Account executive
    Home: Brooklyn

    Kate’s hang-up: “A lack of curves. I used to feel awkward in my body—I was all legs and didn’t have much of a bust.”

    What helps her let it go: “I have grown into my body, though it hasn’t changed much. I usually dress very understated, but this style is very ‘look at me.’ The cut is fitted through the torso, so my behind seems curvier, and the hem adds visual interest. I like that I look shapelier—not so straight up and down.”

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

    More from Real Simple:

TIME women

I’m Done With Self-Loathing New Year’s Resolutions

girl-holding-heart
Getty Images

A resolution about accepting my body was way healthier for me than starting another new diet

xojane

Can I ask a really simple question? Do you know anyone who actually makes a New Year’s resolution and keeps it? I’m not even kidding. If I look back over all the years of my life, I’ve probably been choosing to be resolute about one thing or another for 25 plus years. And, honestly until three years ago I can’t remember succeeding — LIKE EVER. Sometimes I barely even made it to January. (There are probably some of you who are already thinking that I just lack willpower and that’s your prerogative, but I think it’s more than that.)

Consider the resolution to stop smoking. I smoked on and off in high school and college. Eventually I quit, but clearly there were years where I would walk around talking about how smoking was going to end on the first of January. I meant it. I hated that I smoked, even though I enjoyed the act of smoking.

On New Year’s Eve I would head out to one party or another, committed to tossing my cigarettes immediately following the clamor of midnight noisemakers. I’d be with friends; we’d dance and toast and gulp champagne — the clock would strike twelve and there’d be singing, joy and by 12:30 a.m., smoking. Who has the will power to stop smoking when you’re already drunk? I can’t vouch for you but my intoxicated self is really good at rationalizing and justifying bad ideas. So, when you’re addicted to smoking, ditching your cigarettes in the middle of a raucous drunken party is just stupid — it’s a set up for failure.

Basically, most New Year’s resolutions suck. I would argue that at least 90% of my resolutions were about changing a bodily habit in some drastic way – quit smoking, cut calories, exercise more, drink less, fast one day a week. I would also argue that 90% percent of everyone else is making similar resolutions. (Do me a favor, don’t quote that statistic because I made it up. However, the internet told me that only 8% of people are succeeding at New Year’s resolutions, so if you decided I lack willpower, it’s most likely you do too.)

The most popular resolution is to lose weight, and I think I have at least 20 years of failing at diet-oriented resolutions under my belt. Resolutions that focus on changing your body shape or size are the worst because basically, what you’re doing when you make this kind of resolution is starting the year by saying my body isn’t good enough, and this year I will finally make my body good enough – only you fail. Or at least 92% of us fail.

Whatever. I’m so over it.

Three years ago I decided I was done hating my body for a living, so when it came time to make a New Year’s resolution I either had to disband the practice or come up with a resolution that wasn’t grounded in self-hatred and self-loathing. (I had already quit smoking, so that was no longer an option.) I think shutting down the whole resolution idea is totally valid – and for some slamming that door may solidify the road to self-love, but I’ve found that self-affirming resolutions have been a really excellent tool for me on my body positive journey.

So anyway, in 2012, I was new to the whole Love Thyself game, so when trying to create a resolution that resonated self-care, I kept picturing the SNL skit — Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley. Basically, that was all I knew self-help to be – gurus and their sheep mumbling mantras at their own reflections. I was a smart-mouthed cynic from New York; mantra mumbling was not going to work for me. I needed practical action. I needed a resolution that would constantly remind me I had my permission to love my body — even if everyone else I knew was still caught in the cycle of being mean to themselves.

In order to find my resolution, I started backwards. I thought about all the times when I hated my body, all the places and instances when I felt ill at ease because I was fat and considered what was making me feel this way. I meditated on the moments when I was feeling self-conscious, big, monstrous and uncomfortable. (Quick recommendation: DO NOT DO THIS. It’s not at all fun and I already did it for you.)

The weird thing was, above and beyond all the emotional misery I traipsed through, I kept coming back to this one physical feeling — my jeans cutting into my belly. You know this feeling; it’s the your-jeans-are-so-tight-that-they-literally-leave-a-red-imprint-of-themselves-on-your-skin feeling. It’s an itchy searing feeling. It’s painful and there is no reason to feel it, except for the belief that we deserve to suffer and feel guilty about our size because God forbid we get bigger than some abstract notion of the size we want to be.

Once I realized this, a resolution was born. I resolved to buy clothes that fit me. I felt certain that one of the key issues I was facing was feeling uncool, uncomfortable, or not fashionable because I was squeezing into clothes that were too small. (Jesus, first world problems, right? That said, self-loathing and body hate feel brutal, so we’ve got to work on it. ) In 2012, I dedicated a portion of my income to buying sassy new clothes that I liked no matter what size they were, clothes that fit well — nothing tight, nothing that would fit in a few pounds, and nothing that I chose because it was “slimming.”

For those of you who dissed my willpower earlier — I nailed this resolution. I was a clothes-that-fit superstar. And while resolving to buy clothes might seem superficial and ridiculous, it wasn’t. It was amazing. As soon as I tossed my too-tight favorites, I started to forget to be self-conscious in private spaces. In other words, when my jeans were too tight, I could sit alone in my car at a red light — feel the tightness — and be reminded that I thought my body was wrong. Once my clothes fit, the “wrongness” I felt with regards to my body was rarely present unless other people or media made me feel that way.

I’m not trying to oversell this idea — all my problems with my body weren’t magically solved by clothes that fit, but I was loving myself more and I was treating my body like it deserved nice clothes, like it was okay to live and be happy and enjoy fashion at my size. So yeah — a resolution that was about accepting my body was way healthier for me than starting another new diet.

Just in case you’re interested in choosing a 2015 resolution that emphasizes self-acceptance, here are the other successful resolutions that I’ve embarked on since choosing to break the bonds of self-hatred:

2013: Stop Moralizing Food and Start Focusing on Nutrients

In the fall of 2012, I listened to a student of mine extol how she was “so bad because she had a brownie for breakfast.” I realized that I thought that way, and it seemed ridiculous to me.

Brownies, pizza, french fries — these aren’t “bad” or “good;” they’re food. They have no moral value so eating them doesn’t make you bad, just like eating salad doesn’t make you a better person. Instead of moralizing what I ate, I started thinking about how I could incorporate foods into my diet that gave me the nutrients my body needed. I resolved to eat veggies everyday — even if I only wanted them with dressing. I focused on nutrients and when I felt like it I ate brownies — because they have nutrients too.

2014: Spread the Message of Body Acceptance and Shut Down Body Hatred

Some of you may have read my last article for xoJane — so you know that I’m not okay with people saying super mean stuff about other people’s bodies. I think it sucks and I want it to stop.

Last year, I resolved to speak up when I could and inform those suffering from body hatred that there was another option. Also, I decided to kindly tell people — friends, strangers, colleagues etc. — that I have chosen to love my body and respect the bodies of others so my air space is a body-hate free zone, which means that I’m gonna call you out if you ill speak of your body or someone else’s body in my presence. Finally, I committed to participate in movements that forward body-positivity, like @fyeahmfabello’s forthcoming social media campaign #NORMALIZEFAT2K15.

2015: ????

I know I only have a few days but I’m still working on my resolution for this year — I want to focus on sexy. Not like, sex (I’m more than good with that). But that sexy glamorous feeling, sometimes I still misplace that and have a hard time finding it. So, I’m going to resolve to do something that makes me feel that powerful sexy charge — I’m just not sure what that is yet. As long as they’re all about body acceptance, I’m open to your suggestions.

Lindsey Averill is a writer and contributor to xoJane. This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME women

Why Model Robyn Lawley Is a Role Model for Considering Abortion

woman-looking-sky
Getty Images

Celebrity pregnancy announcements normally reinforce the idea that motherhood is a woman’s true calling

xojane

We all want to make choices for ourselves. Most women, however, are not afforded that luxury, as every choice, from wardrobe to reproduction, becomes a topic of public discussion.

The scrutiny is multiplied beyond my mathematical comprehension when the woman in question is a celebrity. Looks and decisions are meticulously dissected every time she “steps out” or “flaunts” or “shows off” before image-hungry cameras. One of the tabloid’s favorite pastimes is “womb watch,” guessing which celebrity is pregnant, or has perhaps eaten a large lunch, before wondering when certain celebrities like Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz are planning on children as they’re deemed to be running out of time.

Every celebrity pregnancy announcement is filled with positivity.

We’re told of the immense joy and blessing that pregnancy is, reinforcing the idea that motherhood is a woman’s true calling. Reality often doesn’t look like that, as not every pregnancy is planned and wanted and some women may feel worried or ambivalent about the prospect of children overall.

That’s why Australian model Robyn Lawley’s decision to share her thoughts about an accidental pregnancy is so important to the overall narrative surrounding pregnancy.

Lawley is a 25-year-old pro-choice feminist and successful “plus-size” model who has worked for many mainstream brands like Ralph Lauren so it’s safe to assume that she has financial security; she’s also engaged and has previously discussed having children with her partner. In many ways she is in the best position to have a baby. Nevertheless, Lawley, like many women the world over, had many things to consider before continuing with her pregnancy.

In a recent interview, she revealed: “As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I had to take all options into account, because with a baby, I’ll have to majorly slow down — and I’m very career-driven. That scared me. The reality is many women face a plethora of factors when considering whether to have an abortion. My case is no different.”

It’s very reassuring to hear such a rational and calm consideration of abortion without the hyperbolic discussion of personal tragedy and torment that seem to make up the permissible “good abortion” accounts. That’s not to say that sometimes one account is wrong or better than another but only one is allowed to exist without pro-lifers (anti-choicers, really) reaching for their pitchforks.

Lawley openly acknowledged that one of her biggest worries about pregnancy stemmed from the effects it has on the body saying “one of the biggest [fears] for me was related to my career, which necessarily and perhaps unfortunately relates, at least in part, to my body image.”

Unsurprisingly, the comments on the Daily Mail article, now no longer to be found, called her selfish for worrying about her body and denouncing women in general for not valuing human life. What those commenters fail to consider, besides basic human compassion, is the possible difficulty of returning to work after having a child or affording childcare. Once again, the child’s life is only considered while in utero and the woman is a mere vessel, not a person with life goals beyond children.

What’s most interesting to me about this story is Lawley’s ultimate decision to keep the baby.

No, it’s not in itself shocking, but had she not chosen to disclose the deliberation regarding an abortion, we would never have known. It makes me wonder how many celebrities — and even acquaintances — go through a similar process, later to either announce the joyful pregnancy news or simply keep silent about their decisions.

When Lawley was considering termination she said: “I thought it’d be so easy! I’d just walk in there, and it’d be done so quickly, but then I called them and heard the process and thought this is a serious, full-on thing. I decided then that I wanted to keep the baby.”

I begin to wonder who exactly the “them” in this instance represents because it seems like she wasn’t given the correct information unless her pregnancy was already well under way. Of course, abortion is a medical procedure with associated risks, though it has been found by researchers at University of California, San Francisco in a recent study to be as safe as a colonoscopy with nearly all of the procedures being performed at a doctor’s office or an outpatient clinic — not a hospital. This research would suggest that abortion is actually not a “full-on thing” but a minor and extremely safe procedure.

All this aside, Lawley has made the right choice because it’s the choice that she and she alone is making.

I, personally, am thankful to her for revealing her decision-making process, adding another rational voice to a discussion that often gets seized by individuals with ill intentions and misinformation. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, women will be able to speak openly about such decisions in public without inspiring murderous rage from people who want to police women’s private lives and bodies.

Zhenya Tsenzharyk is a writer and student in London. This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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I’m a Body-Positive Feminist and I Had Weight Loss Surgery

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The same philosophy that allowed me to find peace with my fat body also allowed me to make the decision to have weight loss surgery

xojane

OK, so this wasn’t really something that “happened” to me. I made an educated decision about my body and my future.

I have always been fat, and for a long time, I really hated it. I spent more than two decades of my life wishing I would magically wake up “normal.” Until I was in my mid-20s, I didn’t know what it felt like to not wear a heavy cloak of shame and insecurity.

Like so many other fat girls with Internet access, I discovered that body positivity was a thing, and that I could feel good about myself and I didn’t really have to give a fuck about what other people thought. I decided to be happy, regardless of my size. I began identifying as a fat feminist. I actually started feeling okay about my body. I was doing okay and there were people who liked me, even loved me, despite my fatness. At some point, I even started kind of liking myself, and then my fatness became somewhat of a non-issue. Eventually I came to be at peace with my body. It was mine and mine alone, and it was beautiful.

As I moved into my 30s, life happened. I was thriving in a supportive community of folks who embraced me as I was. I got a good job; I found my soul mate; I got engaged. My size was a non-issue, and I was happy.

But I wasn’t healthy. I was on medication to prevent my high blood sugar from turning into diabetes. I slept with a machine attached to my face to keep me breathing at night. I didn’t have the stamina I needed to be able to do my work every day. Polycystic ovary syndrome, which is closely tied to what doctors liked to refer to as my “morbid obesity,” meant I might not be able to have babies, and I was more likely to get diabetes or certain kinds of cancer. Physically, I didn’t feel good. Emotionally, I was at a crossroads.

In short: I could continue not caring about my weight and go about business as usual. Or, I could lose weight. I’d struggled with depression and, yes, even suicidal thoughts in the past, but when I started having health problems, I was at a happy place in my life — and I wanted it to stay that way. I wanted to be my best self, and for me, that didn’t just mean being happy with my physical body, it meant having my physical body be healthy.

My decision to have weight loss surgery was not made lightly. I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile my body-positive politics with my desire to live longer and have babies and be able to walk up the flight of stairs to my office without getting winded. I also spent a lot of time trying to lose weight through more conventional methods, like diet and exercise. My medical conditions made that nearly impossible, and no matter what I did, my health kept declining.

Ultimately, the same philosophy that allowed me to find peace with my fat body also allowed me to make the decision to have weight loss surgery.

I made an educated decision about my body. It was mine, and mine alone.

Yes, weight loss surgery can kill you. And yes, I’m an advocate for health at any size. But, real talk: Being fat was actually, actively killing me. For me, the benefits of weight loss surgery outweighed the risks. Having your guts rearranged is not fun, but overall, my improved quality of life has made this process, albeit difficult, worthwhile.

The experience of losing more than 140 pounds in a very short period of time has been socially and emotionally difficult, too. When you lose weight, everyone starts to pay very close attention to your body. People I barely know now find it appropriate to tell me how happy or impressed they are by my change in appearance, while I often feel judged by the fat-positive community in which I once found comfort and acceptance.

My body was nobody’s business before I had surgery, and it’s nobody’s business now.

For me, weight loss surgery was not an “easy way out.” It was a tool that was available to me, and I made the informed decision to use it to take control of my health. I can’t think of much that’s more empowering — or body positive — than that.

Trisha Harms is a writer, social media strategist, and social justice advocate. This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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