This year more than ever, people clapped, slapped, and hit back at haters who dared to shame them for anything. Mostly, the Internet supported those who stood up for themselves after they were made to feel they shouldn't look a certain way. Rightfully so! In 2015, there is no reason for anyone to be ashamed what what he or she looks like ... duh! Without further ado, here are the absolute best instances of body acceptance from the past year. Prepare your praise hands emojis. Prepare them now. ???
1. This high school girl's incredible response to bullies.
Genny Zuniga's video about overcoming body image issues has been viewed millions of times — probably because it's heartbreakingly emotional and gut-wrenching that she felt the need to make it in the first place. In the video, Genny writes terrible words she's been called (and that she's called herself) all over her half-naked body and then lets them all go by getting into a bath of "support, hope, and love." She concludes that she sees herself as she truly is: "beautiful, loved, important."
2. A man who preached body acceptance came to terms with his own excess skin.
At the age of 16, Matt Diaz weighed 465 pounds. Over the past seven years, he's lost about 270 of those pounds, and while many have complimented his appearance since then, it hasn't changed how he feels about his body. Diaz posted a video back in March about how insecure the excess skin from his weight loss makes him: "I can't preach body positivity and hide who I am," he said in the video while lifting his shirt. "I wanna control and like about myself the things that I can. But the things that you can't fix you have to make peace with." Millions of people watched and cheered.
3. A woman flaunted the scars that saved her life.
Catherine Keeney had a preventative prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in March after learning she had a 97 percent chance of getting breast cancer one day. The experience made her realize far too few women talk about and are proud of their scars, so she had her fiancé take some badass unfiltered photos of hers and posted them all online. "I am proud of my scars," she told Cosmopolitan.com. "They saved my life."
4. This pregnant meteorologist who refused to be shamed.
Kristi Gordon, a meteorologist from the Canadian Global BC news, had actually asked viewers to be kinder to her while she was on air during her second pregnancy, but trolls will be trolls and they weren't. After the audience picked her appearance apart ("Nowhere on North America TV have we seen a weather reader so gross as you."), Gordon hit back with an incisive blog post. "No matter how rational or confident you are, the mean things people say can have an impact," she wrote while encouraging others to think twice about what they say (to both people they know and have never met). Her coworkers lauded her on air for it.
5. A(nother) shamed pregnant meteorologist who (also) called for women to band together.
Similar to Kristi Gordon's experience, Katie Fehlinger was shamed for having the audacity to be pregnant while working. At 35 weeks (with twins!), Fehlinger wrote a blog post "to every mother out there — other pregnant moms-to-be, moms reading this while their toddlers play on the swing set, moms whose kids have long since gone off to college" asking them to share their baby bumps in solidarity. Thousands did.
6. This singer owned her freckles when the Internet told her they weren't cute.
After posting a gorgeous makeup-free photo showcasing her freckles, Australian singer Ricki Lee got a ridiculous amount of comments telling her the freckles were not cute. Not that there's ever a good time to make someone feel badly about what she looks like, but the comments were especially bad as Lee was using the selfie to acknowledge how she'd grown to love a part of herself she used to hate. Finally, Lee commented it was "sad that there are people out there that are so miserable in their own lives that they will turn a candid moment and a beautiful memory into something negative and nasty." She signed off by encouraging said people to get a life.
7. "He may not have rock hard abs, but why does that even matter when you are trying to find someone to spend the rest of your life with?"
After her friend posted the above photo on Reddit, Ashley Stevens involuntarily found out that the Internet hated her boyfriend. More than 2,600 people commented that Christopher Reed was fat and disgusting. Stevens, who'd just caught the bouquet at another friend's wedding when the picture was taken, was appalled and took to Facebook to shame the people who'd shamed her boyfriend. "He may not have rock hard abs, but why does that even matter when you are trying to find someone to spend the rest of your life with," she asked alongside a super cute photo of her and Reed on their two-year anniversary. There's not much to argue with there, hmm? BOOM.
8. Chrissy Teigen's "stretchies" say hi!
Chrissy is notorious for her honesty on social media, but for some reason, this casual stretch mark selfie panicked everyone — in a good way. Maybe it was the super lax way Chrissy, supermodel, chef, etc., acknowledged her stretch marks' existence or maybe it was the really cute dog chilling in the background, but it made for one of the most talked-about Instagrams of the year.
9. How one woman proved "people with scars can wear bikinis."
Michelle Ellman, a woman who's battled a brain tumor, an obstructed bowel, a punctured intestine, and more, once heard herself say "people with scars can't wear bikinis." She realized soon after it was other people who'd made her feel that way. Ellman posted the above Instagram in August to thousands of likes and — maybe for the first time in Instagram history? — only positive comments. Her photo prompted others to share their scar stories as well.
10. The photos that dismantled what a post-baby body should look like.
Though Joanna Vindetti had no problem shedding baby weight after her first two pregnancies, she struggled to get her body back after giving birth to twins … until she "finally made the decision that I would disassociate my body from my mind during my twin pregnancy and think of my body as a vessel." Once she established that, she was able to "be kind to her body" and not stress when the weight just wouldn't go away. She shared her story in the form of photos and thousands of other mothers were inspired to do the same.
11. How Selena Gomez shut them body shamers down.
Remember how some people spent the majority of 2015 telling Selena Gomez she was fat? Yeah, so Selena had enough of that after awhile and posted this. The caption? "I love being happy with me y'all." As she should. She's Selena fucking Gomez, can she live?
12. A teen who hit back at a dress code violation that was too personal.
Though it seemed like high school women couldn't wear anything this year without violating absurd dress codes, Carey Burgess's "violation" seemed more personal than most. After a teacher told her her skirt was too short, Burgess believed the punishment was a sexist attack on her femininity. "I am a woman. I am woman with thighs, a butt, and a brain," she wrote in a Facebook post shared by almost 15,000 people. "I am bigger than Beaufort High School."
13. These gorgeous birthmark selfies clapping back at bullies.
Ciera Swaringen, a 19-year-old from North Carolina, was born with Giant Congenital Melaocytic Nevus, a dermatological condition that leads large moles to appear on more than two-thirds of her body. She was always mocked for the way she looked and shied away from high school boys who were the meanest. Finally, Swaringen realized ~*what makes her different makes her beautiful*~ and began posting lovely bikini selfies this year — making sure she got pictures of her birthmarks from all angles.
14. A bagged-up beauty who's got nothing to be ashamed of.
Leanne Hammond was another woman who was sick of women being made to feel like their bodies were something to be ashamed of. Her body comes equipped with a colostomy bag, something she has to live with after her bowel was found covered with polyps. "There's nothing to be ashamed of because it shows the battle you've fought," Hammond told Cosmopolitan.com after more than 50,000 saw the above photo. "Life continues … anything that has the power to save your life should be flaunted!"
15. This mom-of-4's "A-ha!" moment.
Singer Kimberly Henderson really killed it this year — particularly when it came to being proud of who she is. The 28-year-old mom was having a rough day and wishing for her pre-baby body when one of her babies made her realize how irrelevant stretch marks are. When her daughter grabbed her for a kiss while Henderson was looking in the mirror, "she reminded me that every imperfection on my belly was worth having sweet moments like that," Henderson told Cosmopolitan.com.
16. The photo that proved shamers will never, ever win. Good people always do.
This dancing man went majorly viral in March after some sickos posted about how proud they were to have made him feel like he shouldn't dance. A young L.A. woman saw this disgusting shaming unfolding and used the power of the webz to locate Dancing Man successfully. Together, she and a bunch of other women threw him a Can't Bring Me Down party because "we want to see you dance freely and if you would have us, we would love to dance with you." No word on how the party went, but if you didn't cry just reading about it, you are an emotionless wall. If nothing else, let's let everyone dance in peace next year.
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