It's really difficult (NAY, I SAY IMPOSSIBLE) to navigate the body activism world without having kick ass people who get it and are there to support you. I'm serious. This challenging-the-status-quo shit is rough and often met with so much push back that almost all of us think at some point (or repeatedly): OMGisthisevenworthit? Spoiler: I think it is. And it's doable when you've got an army of bad-ass babes (and dudes- check out Andrew Walen and Bruce Sturgell) that are in your corner. Add the fact that they're brilliant, kind, and incredible humans all around? Well, shit. If I'm not a lucky bitch, I dunno who is.
These are 13 activists out of the many that I dearly and personally love. You might know some of them (some of you might know of them all) but for those who don't... I insist that you follow these people. They all offer something different and will enrich your life in ways you never dreamed! And that's a promise.
I've included three sections for your reading convenience: why I love them so you become acquainted, where you know them from so you can put the name to the face, and reasons to follow them forever if they're you're jam. So cancel all your plans. I just compiled enough body love links to keep you busy for days.
Why I love her: I've written about Amanda once already. She sent me a care package once that basically made me believe in humanity again and reaffirmed how important it is to support each other. I love her so hard. I also had the chance to have margaritas last time we were both in NYC and got to hear about her amazing "Restore Your Roar" camp in Hawaii (I'm there for 2016!), her separation from competitive dance and both her fears and her dreams. Mush.
You know her from: her viral video where she danced to Katy Perry's "Roar" and gave you goosebumps while stripping off labels that the world had given her. Know her more. Amanda is good for the soul.
Follow if: You want to read the raw honest letters to the world that you thought about writing but never got around to because: vulnerability is hard. You want to see the body love world from the perspective of a Broadway dancer that finally caught on to the bullshit and decided to teach dance in Hawaii instead. You need more sunshine-y, positive, Mahalo-ing in your life.
Why I love her: There are a may things I love about Virgie: one is how fun and gentle her voice is while talking about the fiercest shit in the world. If you see pictures of her you'd almost expect a roaring lion to come out of her mouth every time she opened it. Not true. It's more like a playful kitten. She's also a leading expert on sexuality, fat politics and body image with the degree to back it up. When she talks, you should listen.
You know her from: championing the #Fatkini hashtag last year (frreal, follow this bitch's Instagram. It's so good), her #LoseHateNotWeight hashtag, her Hot and Heavy book on Amazon, and her general internet badassery that knows no bounds.
Follow if: You feel like you need more brightly colored, donut printed spandex in your life. You want to give diet culture the middle finger while wearing some serious bling. You need general inspiration on how to be fanciful, fabulous and fucking fierce. You value self-care and want to see inspiring examples of it. You want to hear a roar and a purr simultaneously.
My boyfriend is strangely okay with this.
All silliness aside, Melissa is finishing her PhD at Widner in Human Sexuality Studies, speaks, travels, makes a shit ton of YouTube videos, is an editor for Everyday Feminism, loves her cat as much as I love mine (maybe more- it's debatable) and basically rules the world. We're also weirdly connected to the point where she knows when to send lovely texts when I need them most. BE STILL MY HEART.
You know her from: Her kick-ass vlogging, her million podcast interviews, her visibility in all things related to eating disorders, and her writing on Everyday Feminism which includes her viral post "Let's Talk About Thin Privilege."
Follow if: you want some real talk about feminism, eating disorders, sexuality and how they all intersect. You need to hear some fat advocacy coming out of a thin person's mouth to remind you that weight stigma hurts us all. It's been a while since you've had a mind blowing braingasm.
Sonya has been doing activism for over a decade and is HUGELY popular but she always finds time for fellow activists and was there to guide me through the working transition, is always kind with redirection, and never turns down a chance to have hard conversations because they make the world a better place. Oh, and she's fun as fuck.
You know her from: Her newly renovated website The Body Is Not An Apology, her YouTube video performances, and her writing all over teh web.
Follow if: you want to witness the embodiment of power. You believe in all encompassing restorative justice. You don't want to shy away from the real issues of today, but instead face them head on with education, compassion, and a solution. You want real change.
Why I love her: I met Lindsey in LA while interviewing for the Fattitude Documentary. I had won the lottery that day (apparently) and was able to stay with both Lindsey and her best friend/creative partner Viri for the night. What ensued was wine, sushi, and the most incredible dinner conversation later that night. We all nerded out over body politics, fat camps memories, personal history and world solutions and this continued long after I went to bed. Warm, welcoming, wonderful people; Lindsey being all of those things.
You know her from: Lindsey is an activist, writer and filmmaker- she is half of the mastermind behind the upcoming documentary Fattitude which had a successful Kickstarter She's also known for her honest writing about being stalked by online trolls and kicking-ass anyways, and her general killer writing online.
Follow if: you're a pop culture junkie who also thinks critically. You want to read honesty in approachable form. You like to keep tabs on everyone within the body activism and want updates on her interviews with them. You think smiling while punching Patriarchy in the face is the way to go.
Why I love her: Kelli is an artist, film maker, model, and educator based in Australia and this bitch is fearless. I met her through an interview I was writing for the for Volup2 after she finished a documentary about fat femme synchronized swimmers and enjoyed every moment. Her politics are fierce and I especially love how many photo shoots she has done; all cheeky, poignant, and amazing. I'm a big fan of images as a form of protest (obvs) and hers are especially great.
You know her from: Her documentary Aquaporko!, her widely publicized collaboration with dance company Force Majeure "Nothing to Lose" in which fat bodies are radically portrayed, and of course her fantastical modeling.
Follow if: The word "Obeast" makes you giddy inside. You want to watch interviews about fat politics in a sexy accent. You believe that brazen women who make no apologies will change the world.
Jade is the zen-ist ass kicker I know. A moment with her heals all the wounds the world creates and that kind of energy? It's priceless.
You know her from: her flooding of the entire world with images of unaltered mothers bodies. You also know her from her wildly successful crowd funding campaign that created The Bodies of Mothers book and catapulted her into international spotlight. She's also the talent behind many visual campaigns that we've collaborated on including: #EmpowerALLBodies, Body Love Can Span Generations, and #LoveTheMirror.
Follow if: you identify with the words: sisterhood, juiciness, and tribe. You're struggling with your post-birth body and the fact that it didn't bounce back as society demands. You think you're alone in this. You need a gentle reminder that you're allowed to feel beautiful. You want a reason to believe that humans can be good and life is a blessing.
Why I love her: Guys, I'll be honest. The rest of these are frrreal friendships/love affairs but Maysoon and I's relationship doesn't go beyond a Twitter post where she said "I need more rabble rousers in my life @militant_baker:) #Shero" and I died of happiness for a (loooooong) moment. But even though that's the case, I'm still going to include her here because I think she's one of the most important voices currently out there and I FUCKING LOVE HER GUTS. So there.
You know her from: Maysoon is a lot of things: a comedian, an actress, a visibility activist and I'm gonna also say- "compassion advocate." She recently released a video challenging the Oscars to slow their roll and cast "disabled actors as themselves.' You might also know her from "Don't Mess With the Zohan."
Follow if: you think "I've Got 99 Problems... Palsy is Just One" is the best TED talk title ever. You think that disability visibility is key in the body love world. You believe that compassion is the best way to approach hate. You want to laugh about the hard shit, because: life.
You know her from: You might know her from the #EmpowerALLBodies campaign that came out. Or maybe the #LoveTheMirror shoot? She was even part of the Expose project. Adiba is also obviously wildly photogenic. She is a body acceptance activist and has a special place in her heart for disability visibility, as she wants her daughter to grow up knowing she's perfect just the way she is. Watch for this one- she's on the rise and full of power.
Follow if: you wanna be the person who gets to pat themselves on the back and say "I've followed her since the beginning." You think fashion is a part of body love too. You like loud mouthed mommas.
You know her from: I found her through her "Good Fatty Archetype" illustration on Everyday Feminism and fell in love with the buttons it pushed and uncomfortable thoughts it forced me to process. This chick is fucking brilliant and I also am in love with hearing her post-Portland move/"American in London" stories because... someday I want that to be me.
Follow if: You think the world is best explained through illustrations. You want to be challenged to think beyond Body Love 101. You need someone to point out the shit you never thought about. You wanna internet stalk cool people.
You know her from: Her well loved "This is What an Athlete Looks Like" as well as a really great compilation of messages from plus-size athletes. She also pioneered an amazing plus-size exercise dvd that's the most inclusive thing I've ever seen when it comes to ability levels.
Follow if: You want to go to a fitness retreat in Mexico with rad ladies full of love. You believe that "all sweat is equal." You want to explore movement without the pressure to change your body. You love Vancouver accents.
Why I love her: She's an unapologetic fatty who's here to make the world a better place for large bodies and for those who are also advocating for them. I met Marilyn IRL at an event in San Jose that I was speaking at and was thrilled to chat afterwards with this trailblazing radical. She's hella fun, supportive, and muchly loved by the "Bay Area Fats." Respect.
You know her from: Her boundary busting book Fat!So?. Marilyn published this before body acceptance was trending and, honestly- paved the way for books like mine. After years of zine production, she compiled her genius into one book and if you haven't read it... change that.
Follow if: you think that radical politics are whats required to squash fat stigma and you're not afraid to say SQUASH. You love OG fat activists. You refer to your flabby arms as "Bingo Wings." You like controversial Facebook threads. You really fucking love pink.
Why I love her: Denise is one of those people who is socially conscious, holds space for people, loves to unpack social issues, and gives back to all communities. A single conversation with this beautiful self-aware woman will leave you changed. We set up a day date while I was in San Francisco and without ever meeting, I jumped in her car and we spent hours adventuring and talking about anything and everything wonderful. Brain sex. That's what I called it I think. Sexy proof here.
You know her from: She is the lady behind the #BeBeautiful campaign (which includes the fearless subway photo) and the Madonna inspired image. She is also an educator, writer and performs brilliant spoken word.
Follow if: you want more compassion and vulnerability in your life. You communicate best through poetry. You want to see the whole picture. You like people that give really good hugs.
God. There are so many more. SAM DYLAN FINCH (of Let's Queer Things Up!) who writes wonderfully about living in the non-binary world, transgender topics, and mental health real talk. He's a contributor in my upcoming book (as are several of the others!) and I'm so honored. Also Lizz Denneau who runs an amazing plus clothing company and is a bestie of 6 years, Marianne Kirby (her xoJane articles are here and epic), Whitney Thore (omg so many hugs for this brave fucking woman), Ragen Chastain (who's no bullshit blog is ever so current and hilarious), Hanne Blank (who is my boo and an incredible author) and Jen of Plus Size Birth (who focuses on support and resources for all pregnancy things)... and these are just the ones I have a personal connection with. There are so many, and all of them blow my mind and turn my heart to mush on the daily.
Here's the great and amazing thing: we're all first and foremost- people. So we have different experiences, different focuses, and different areas of expertise. There isn't a THIS IS FOR EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD kind of approach to body "love" (in fact this is just a word I use) or acceptance and its great to introduce these activists because they can offer so many options. Find the ones that connect with you. Follow them. Love them. Get to know them. And allow them to be first and foremost: people. Everyone "brands" themselves in some way to connect with the world and make a bookmark for our work, but don't let this get in the way of remembering that every person on this list is dedicated to authentically shifting the paradigm that we live in because we all believe in happiness, respect and ultimately- love.
I'll leave you to this blissful happy post, with all the links your heart could desire.