How Women Pushed Body Positivity to the Forefront This Year

There may not be an end in sight to the daily bombardment of glossy images of models and photoshopped bodies we see everywhere, but without a doubt 2015 was the year of the “real woman” and a celebration of their bodies ¡ª whatever the shape or size. With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever for women everywhere to take control. From body-positive hashtags to celebrating smart responses to routine body-shaming incidents, here’s why 2015 was the year we wholeheartedly embraced our bodies, in all shapes and sizes.

The Viral Post

Kate Willcox of @healthyisthenewskinny. Image Source: Instagram user katiehwillcox

Social media has cast a huge spotlight on just how often women have to deal with body shaming from the outside world. Over and over again, women were taking to Facebook to recount an ugly interaction with strangers, and sometimes friends. Take Emily Farrington Smith’s encounter with a woman at the gym who called her fat: “I refuse to settle in a world where [my sisters] will grow up worrying what others think of them or thinking they are lesser humans because of how much they weigh,” she wrote on her Facebook profile page, and many agreed. Comedian Luisa Omielan’s stand-up routine about our cultural obsession with thigh gaps also went viral when she posted a video of it on her Facebook page earlier this year, and with over 200,000 “likes” and 530,000 shares, it’s clear that Luisa has shared a sentiment that others feel strongly about.

“We have gone from a culture that almost seemed ashamed of talking about important issues, even body image, to a culture that is a little more open in valuing conversation and advocacy about these topics,” explained sport psychologist Ariane Machin, an assistant professor of psychology at Saint Francis University. She cites body-positive hashtags on Instagram like #effyourbeautystandards and #healthyisthenewskinny as prime examples of how social media is empowering women everywhere to “know that their current body size and shape is completely acceptable,” even when they must fight other societal pressures to look a certain way. “These social media efforts can be an amazing tool to help clients feel less alone, more normal in their experience, and more hopeful about their current situation,” she said.

The Backlash Against Mainstream Media

More and more, women are pleading for bodies of all types to be represented in ads and other media. Late last year, for example, Victoria’s Secret faced backlash for its Perfect Body campaign, which implied that the “perfect” shape was long, lean ¡ª and unattainable for most. Brands took notice. More than ever before, women of all shapes, sizes, and ages appeared in national campaigns for the likes of Target, Nike, Dove, and Panache. Lingerie company Aerie even went as far to create an ad campaign of photos not touched by the wand of Photoshop, and Women’s Running was applauded (deservedly) for putting a plus-size runner on its August cover. Plus-size model Ashley Graham’s popularity and the rise of amateur athletes everywhere who show that you can be strong, flexible, and fit at any size is even more proof that women need body-positive role models to counteract incessant media messaging.

Valerie of Big Gal Yoga is proof that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “yoga body.” Image Source: Instagram user biggalyoga

Celebrities Do It Too

Celebrities are known for having the time and resources to whip their bodies into disciplined shape ¡ª and not complaining when unrealistically photoshopped images of them are held up as a womanly ideal ¡ª but this year, many joined the chorus of women speaking out against the grain. Demi Lovato, for example, recently celebrated the release of her aptly titled album, Confident, with these wise words: “[W]hen I call my thighs thick ¡ª I love it. I think it’s a good thing. . . . I’m not naturally super thin. I have an athletic body. I just have to embrace that. There are days when it’s hard to, but more and more, there are days where I’m actually proud of my body.”

Ariana Grande’s response to an anonymous tweeter who compared her body type to Modern Family actress Ariel Winter’s is a public reminder that anyone, curvy or not, can be body shamed. “Diversity is sexy!” Ariana wrote on Instagram. “Celebrate yourself. Celebrate others. The things that make us different from one another make us beautiful.”

Even lean-bodied athletes aren’t immune to the pressures of having to look a certain way; just look at Ronda Rousey’s powerful response earlier this year to those who criticized her body for being “too masculine.” And in ESPN The Magazine‘s annual Body Issue, strong, accomplished women like gymnast Aly Raisman admitted that it takes a lot of effort to love your body when it doesn’t look like a feminine ideal.

Ronda Rousey calls her body “femininely badass as f*ck, because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose.” Image Source: Getty / Matthew Stockman

Body Positivity in 2016

So, what’s next? If 2015 was the year that women (and men) everywhere collectively decided that enough was enough, then luckily, we can expect even more vocality about an issue that has long been tolerated. “While the terms ‘fat shaming’ and ‘body shaming’ may be relatively new, judging and humiliating people who are deemed to be ‘fat’ or ‘overweight’ has been a part of our culture for decades,” embedded in our everyday language, advertising, and media, explained psychotherapist Carolyn Karoll of Karoll Counseling. “While the shaming can be overt, like being called names, it can also be more subtle, such as making throwaway comments like, ‘You are so brave to wear that.'” By bringing this issue to the forefront of public discussion, women everywhere can help others embrace their body type and live confidently in their skin.

Of her Pirelli calendar photo, Amy Schumer wrote on Facebook: “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman. Thank you Annie Leibovitz!” Image Source: Pirelli calendar / Annie Leibovitz

The good news: change is already happening, Carolyn said, pointing to the 2016 Pirelli calendar as an example. The highly anticipated photo collection is usually chock-full of supermodels in revealing, glamorous outfits, but the newest calendar takes a different approach under the direction of photographer Annie Leibovitz, who set out to photograph “women who have achieved something,” like Amy Schumer, Serena Williams, and Tavi Gevinson. “I’m not sure we would have seen that years ago, so it’s a much-needed shift to see real bodies in there,” Carolyn explained. “My hope is that our thin-obsessed society will accept and eventually embrace these bodies instead of judge them.” Added Dr. Machin: “People are recognizing that they have a voice.” Here’s to a year of self-love and body acceptance at every size and shape.

How Women Pushed Body Positivity to the Forefront This Year

There may not be an end in sight to the daily bombardment of glossy images of models and photoshopped bodies we see everywhere| but without a doubt 2015 was the year of the “real woman” and a celebration of their bodies ¡ª whatever the shape or size. With the advent of social media| it’s easier than ever for women everywhere to take control. From body-positive hashtags to celebrating smart responses to routine body-shaming incidents| here’s why 2015 was the year we wholeheartedly embraced our bodies| in all shapes and sizes.

The Viral Post

Kate Willcox of @healthyisthenewskinny. Image Source: Instagram user katiehwillcox

Social media has cast a huge spotlight on just how often women have to deal with body shaming from the outside world. Over and over again| women were taking to Facebook to recount an ugly interaction with strangers| and sometimes friends. Take Emily Farrington Smith’s encounter with a woman at the gym who called her fat: “I refuse to settle in a world where [my sisters] will grow up worrying what others think of them or thinking they are lesser humans because of how much they weigh|” she wrote on her Facebook profile page| and many agreed. Comedian Luisa Omielan’s stand-up routine about our cultural obsession with thigh gaps also went viral when she posted a video of it on her Facebook page earlier this year| and with over 200|000 “likes” and 530|000 shares| it’s clear that Luisa has shared a sentiment that others feel strongly about.

“We have gone from a culture that almost seemed ashamed of talking about important issues| even body image| to a culture that is a little more open in valuing conversation and advocacy about these topics|” explained sport psychologist Ariane Machin| an assistant professor of psychology at Saint Francis University. She cites body-positive hashtags on Instagram like #effyourbeautystandards and #healthyisthenewskinny as prime examples of how social media is empowering women everywhere to “know that their current body size and shape is completely acceptable|” even when they must fight other societal pressures to look a certain way. “These social media efforts can be an amazing tool to help clients feel less alone| more normal in their experience| and more hopeful about their current situation|” she said.

The Backlash Against Mainstream Media

More and more| women are pleading for bodies of all types to be represented in ads and other media. Late last year| for example| Victoria’s Secret faced backlash for its Perfect Body campaign| which implied that the “perfect” shape was long| lean ¡ª and unattainable for most. Brands took notice. More than ever before| women of all shapes| sizes| and ages appeared in national campaigns for the likes of Target| Nike| Dove| and Panache. Lingerie company Aerie even went as far to create an ad campaign of photos not touched by the wand of Photoshop| and Women’s Running was applauded (deservedly) for putting a plus-size runner on its August cover. Plus-size model Ashley Graham’s popularity and the rise of amateur athletes everywhere who show that you can be strong| flexible| and fit at any size is even more proof that women need body-positive role models to counteract incessant media messaging.

Valerie of Big Gal Yoga is proof that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “yoga body.” Image Source: Instagram user biggalyoga

Celebrities Do It Too

Celebrities are known for having the time and resources to whip their bodies into disciplined shape ¡ª and not complaining when unrealistically photoshopped images of them are held up as a womanly ideal ¡ª but this year| many joined the chorus of women speaking out against the grain. Demi Lovato| for example| recently celebrated the release of her aptly titled album| Confident| with these wise words: “[W]hen I call my thighs thick ¡ª I love it. I think it’s a good thing. . . . I’m not naturally super thin. I have an athletic body. I just have to embrace that. There are days when it’s hard to| but more and more| there are days where I’m actually proud of my body.”

Ariana Grande’s response to an anonymous tweeter who compared her body type to Modern Family actress Ariel Winter’s is a public reminder that anyone| curvy or not| can be body shamed. “Diversity is sexy!” Ariana wrote on Instagram. “Celebrate yourself. Celebrate others. The things that make us different from one another make us beautiful.”

Even lean-bodied athletes aren’t immune to the pressures of having to look a certain way; just look at Ronda Rousey’s powerful response earlier this year to those who criticized her body for being “too masculine.” And in ESPN The Magazine‘s annual Body Issue| strong| accomplished women like gymnast Aly Raisman admitted that it takes a lot of effort to love your body when it doesn’t look like a feminine ideal.

Ronda Rousey calls her body “femininely badass as f*ck| because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose.” Image Source: Getty / Matthew Stockman

Body Positivity in 2016

So| what’s next? If 2015 was the year that women (and men) everywhere collectively decided that enough was enough| then luckily| we can expect even more vocality about an issue that has long been tolerated. “While the terms ‘fat shaming’ and ‘body shaming’ may be relatively new| judging and humiliating people who are deemed to be ‘fat’ or ‘overweight’ has been a part of our culture for decades|” embedded in our everyday language| advertising| and media| explained psychotherapist Carolyn Karoll of Karoll Counseling. “While the shaming can be overt| like being called names| it can also be more subtle| such as making throwaway comments like| ‘You are so brave to wear that.'” By bringing this issue to the forefront of public discussion| women everywhere can help others embrace their body type and live confidently in their skin.

Of her Pirelli calendar photo| Amy Schumer wrote on Facebook: “Beautiful| gross| strong| thin| fat| pretty| ugly| sexy| disgusting| flawless| woman. Thank you Annie Leibovitz!” Image Source: Pirelli calendar / Annie Leibovitz

The good news: change is already happening| Carolyn said| pointing to the 2016 Pirelli calendar as an example. The highly anticipated photo collection is usually chock-full of supermodels in revealing| glamorous outfits| but the newest calendar takes a different approach under the direction of photographer Annie Leibovitz| who set out to photograph “women who have achieved something|” like Amy Schumer| Serena Williams| and Tavi Gevinson. “I’m not sure we would have seen that years ago| so it’s a much-needed shift to see real bodies in there|” Carolyn explained. “My hope is that our thin-obsessed society will accept and eventually embrace these bodies instead of judge them.” Added Dr. Machin: “People are recognizing that they have a voice.” Here’s to a year of self-love and body acceptance at every size and shape.

Our 15 Most Pinned Desserts Will Have You Drooling

Our 15 Most Pinned Desserts Will Have You Drooling

If you want to lose weight| indulging a little is actually recommended. So if your sweet tooth has been kicked into high gear with all of the holiday treats being passed around| whip up one of these healthy dessert recipes u2014u00a0they were the most popular of the year| after all!

Source: Jenny Sugar| Lizzie Fuhr

| Smudgies

Made with just three ingredients| this 92-calorie frozen dessert will beat ice cream sandwich cravings instantly.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Frozen Yogurt Cupcakes

For you ice cream addicts| these 30-calorie frozen yogurt cupcakes will hit the spot.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters

A treat for those who are vegan or Paleo| these dark chocolate nut clusters are easy to whip up and only require four ingredients.

Source: Jaime Young

| Pumpkin Protein Cheesecake Mousse

This healthier pumpkin pie alternative doesn’t even need to be baked.

Source: Dashing Dish

| Frozen Nutty Banana Nibblers

Made with bananas| peanut butter| and Greek yogurt| these frozen nutty banana nibblers are 166 calories per seven-piece serving.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Strawberry Banana Creams

Use the natural sweetness of fruit| and enjoy these strawberry banana creams.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Bread

Warm and spiced| this oatmeal pumpkin bread is always a crowd-pleaser.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Lemon Raspberry Muffins

Low in sugar and high in protein| these lemon raspberry muffins are sweet| soft| and delicious.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Bread

Try this decadent twist on the classic zucchini bread recipe| made with cocoa powder and dried cranberries.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Chocolate Almond Protein Bars

These vegan chocolate almond protein bars are meant for a snack but could easily count as dessert.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Pumpkin-Carrot Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

Low in calories while remaining full of flavor| these pumpkin bars make a great dessert that would be perfect for potlucks since they’re much easier to share with large groups than pies.

Source: Lizzie Fuhr

| Peanut Butter Protein Balls

These bite-size peanut butter chocolate chip balls are much healthier than grabbing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Source: Lizzie Fuhr

| Banana Strawberry Apple Grape Muffins

Sweetened with nothing but fruit| these fruity muffins are only 100 calories.

Source: Jenny Sugar

| Slimmed-Down Brownies

At 125 calories| these brownies offer all the chocolaty goodness you crave.

Source: Lizzie Fuhr

| Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Whip up a batch of these healthy pumpkin muffins u2014 the oats make them extrafilling.

Source: Jenny Sugar

10 Workout Videos You’ll Want to Do Again and Again

10 Workout Videos You’ll Want to Do Again and Again

Sure| we ran| spun| jumped| and pumped our way through 2014| but not every workout was created equal. These 10 fun and fast-paced videos were the very best of the year u2014 they were easy to follow and actually helped us all see results. Now that the year is winding down| we’re rounding them all up| so we can have our favorite workouts handy no matter what kind of sweat session we’re in the mood for. So check out these top picks| and don’t be afraid to just press play and get to work.

| 10-Minute Workout to Tighten the Arm Jiggle

Get the gorgeous chiseled arms you’ve always dreamed of with this simple 10-minute toning workout. All you need is a set of dumbbells| and you’re ready to get to work.

| The Quickest Muffin-Top Workout

Short on time? This five-minute ab workout targets that dreaded spot: the muffin top. With a focus on the obliques| you’ll tone your midsection in no time. Just press play| and it’s on!

| 10 Minutes to Tighter Abs and a Stronger Core

A strong body starts with a strong core. Even if you aren’t aiming for a six-pack| this quick ab workout will help you achieve tight and toned abs you’ll love to show off.

| 5-Minute Leg-Toning Workout

Yes| you’re proud of everything your legs can accomplish| but if you’re still looking to say goodbye to cottage cheese thighs| here’s a workout for you. This quick video will help you work your way toward the tight and toned legs you’ve always dreamed of.

| The Ultimate Inner-Thigh Workout

Working those inner thighs is always a challenge| but this straightforward 10-minute video will help you target exactly the right spot. Scoop up your mat| and get ready to get your best legs ever.

| Rock Your Bottoms With Our Bikini-Butt Workout

Sure| it may not be bikini season yet| but a great backside is always in style. A simple 10-minute workout is all it takes to tone| lift| and sculpt your glutes. So press play| and get to work.

| An Easy-to-Follow 10-Minute Yoga Session

Yoga is all about stretching and strengthening your body. Travis Eliot| creator of the Ultimate Yogi DVD series| designed this quick sequence that is easy to follow| thanks to his clear instructions. So grab your mat| and get to it.

| The Ultimate 30-Minute Cardio Pilates Burner

Taking the best of Pilates and cardio| this 30-minute workout will get your heart pumping. Your workout will fly by as Lisa Corsello| the founder of Burn SF| leads you through 30 minutes of her signature fitness routine. And if you want more of Lisa| check out the Burn DVD.

| The 30-Minute Brazilian Body Workout

This fast-paced and fun 30-minute workout is led by trainer Brett Hoebel. Get ready to feel your abs burn as you learn the basics of the Brazilian dance-like martial art capoeira. So press play| and be prepared to zip through your workout with a smile on your face.

| The Lazy-Girl Workout

How about a workout that doesn’t even involve getting up. Yep| you heard it right: this is a workout you can do all from the floor. In just 10 minutes you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish. So grab your weights| lay back| and get ready to work.

| The 10-Minute Fat-Incinerator Workout

Get your whole body revved up with this fat-burning| muscle-building workout| compliments of really feel the burn.

| Quick| Intense| and Full of All Kinds of Awesome: 10-Minute P90X3 Workout

If you’re squeezing in a fast sweat session| make sure to give it your all. Tony Horton| creator of metabolism and blast fat quickly. Just press play to get busy with the burn.

| 30-Minute Bodyweight Workout

NYC-based celebrity trainer squeeze in an awesome workout.

How Christina Aguilera Stayed Fit and Fabulous in 2014

How Christina Aguilera Stayed Fit and Fabulous in 2014

Christina may have taken a break from being a judge on The Voice this year| but that doesn’t mean the mom of two didn’t make a statement in 2014. Not only did Christina confidently pose nude for a pregnancy shoot over the Summer| but after having daughter Summer Rain in August| she’s wowed on the red carpet| reportedly losing 46 pounds thanks to her healthy lifestyle. We love how happy and healthy Christina has been this year u2014 take a look back at her fit 2014 to see why!

Source: Getty

| Know Yourself

We love Christina’s method for staying in shape: “”I don’t weigh myself u2014 it’s all about how I feel in my clothes. What looks good on one person might not look good on another body type. I happen to be very confident in my own skin. It takes time to get to that place| but it’s all about embracing yourself and your body|”” she told Marie Claire.

| Fit Mom-to-Be

Christina made health a priority during her second pregnancy. “”She is very dedicated to yoga. So much that she has never stopped practicing it. She did yoga the entire time she was pregnant|”” a source told E! News.

| Pregnancy Power

On her naked pregnancy photo shoot with VMagazine.com| Christina said| “”As a woman| I’m proud to embrace my body through all stages of life| staying fearless and confident in surrendering to the unknowns the future has in store.””

| It’s All About Confidence

Her biggest healthy secret: body confidence| no matter what her size. “”I’ve been through my highs; I’ve been through my lows; I’ve been through the gamut of all things in this business|”” she’s said in Marie Claire. “”Being too thin. Being bigger. I’ve been criticized for being on both sides of the scale. It’s noise I block out automatically. I love my body.”” At her postbaby red carpet debut in early November| Christina wowed with a body-hugging red dress that showed exactly that.

| Her Healthy Secrets

Besides yoga and intense sessions with a trainer| what else helped her slim down postbaby? Portion control| cheat days| and being a busy mom| according to E! News. Here she is on the red carpet in late November| just three months after giving birth.

Miranda Lambert’s Secrets to a Happy, Healthy, and Smokin’ Hot 2014

Miranda Lambert’s Secrets to a Happy| Healthy| and Smokin’ Hot 2014

Miranda Lambert is on fire this year! Sure| she dominated the Country Music Awards| winning four awards u2014 but what has really caught our attention is her amazing body and fresh outlook. Miranda has found the right way to balance fitness| healthy eating| and a large serving of fun. After revealing major weight loss last year| she managed to wow us on the red carpet time and time again. Read on to find out why we’re seriously inspired by Miranda’s healthy and happy 2014.

u2014 Additional reporting by Aemilia Madden

| She Keeps Things Positive

Sure| Miranda looks flawless| but she admitted to The Huffington Post that her real goal is just to be a good person. “”I may be a good role model because I just am always positive about body image: Just be who you are. It doesn’t matter what size| it’s all about who you are on the inside and what you stand for.””

| She Still Knows How to Live a Little

Miranda told Glamour that her weight yo-yos| but it’s because she won’t give up living to lose weight. “”If you’ve got a little muffin top| that doesn’t define you. You have so much more to offer: brains| talent| heart. You can spray-tan and suck in the rest. There’s Spanx for that!””

| She Keeps Her Sweat Routine Fun

When she’s at home in Oklahoma| Miranda has taken up a new hobby: English riding lessons. Miranda says the sport allows her to clear her mind and do “”something [that’s] positive and physical and a hard workout.”” Miranda complements her equestrian endeavors with more traditional workouts with her trainer. Miranda says the two do a lot of “”bodyweight exercises| resistance-band moves| and circuit training.

| She Gets Creative With Veggies

Miranda says that she likes her vegetables u2014 just with cheese and ranch dressing on the side. Instead of reverting back to old habits| Miranda has learned to drink green juice| since she’s not a huge fan of veggies on their own. When she sips something green| Miranda feels like she’s consuming “”straight-up vitamins and good food|”” which supports her goals and keeps her energized.

| She Doesn’t Look at the Scale

Miranda has called the scale “”your worst enemy when you’re trying to lose weight or gain weight|”” since stepping on can put you in a sour mood really quickly. Instead of looking for a specific number| Miranda told Women’s Health she’s now choosing to judge her weight loss by how her clothes are fitting.

| She’s Made a Healthy Snacking Plan

On past tours| Miranda was notorious for keeping junk food on hand| but as of late| “”almonds and bananas”” are the only snacks allowed on the bus. She understands that taking temptation out of the picture is essential; she’s even said| “”I don’t want Cheetos anywhere around me!””