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“I see myself as someone who’s working in hopes to break walls, take up space, and redefine the general perspective/aesthetic of beauty,” says Aaron Phillip, a model who wants to show the world that beauty is not defined by gender pronouns or ability levels.
And when it comes to embracing the uniqueness that makes you beautiful, Phillip believes everyone has that within themselves. “Beauty belongs to all because there is not one way to be beautiful — a specific type of beauty should not become a societal standard for those who do not fit into that narrative of beauty itself. I personally don’t feel as if I even belong in the conversation of what is beautiful, so I’m simply making my very own beauty standard and using it to make it known that being physically disabled, black and trans is indeed beautiful.”
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When you think of supermodels, most don’t think of a plus-size black girl with the name Precious. However, Precious Lee is redefining what a supermodel looks like, unapologetically sporting her curves in Vogue pages and Lane Bryant campaigns, just to name a few.
And when it comes to the long journey of acceptance we all must go through, Lee is confident that all can find that confidence internally. “It’s not an end game; it’s ongoing, and it’s important to be happy during the process. Since I could remember, fashion, art, and music were always outlets for me to express myself. Antiquated fashion ideals that promote only one type of beauty are bogus. I hope that my work can show women that labels are irrelevant. It’s up to us to shift the beauty ideals and make it a more embracing space for the girls that will be the women running the world years to come. It’s fashion, it’s beauty; it’s suppose to be freeing. Everything else is just noise.”
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Hunter McGrady is not only Sports Illustrated‘s most size-inclusive model yet, but the statuesque size 16 beauty doesn’t hold back when it comes to strutting her stuff in its full glory. She tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “I think that because I am someone in the media, and at my size and stature, it’s not something society is used to seeing. The fact that I am able to use my voice on social platforms and continue to break the barrier of the beauty ideals that we are used to seeing has been such a great blessing.”
Not only has McGrady created the hashtag #AllWorthy to inspire a body-positivity movement on and off social media; she lives it every day. “Social media can be a blessing or a curse depending how you use it,” she said. “I’m an advocate for following positive Instagrammers. There are tons out there, and since we are going to be scrolling on our Instagrams, why not feed our minds with positivity? We have that choice.”
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Many remember when Natalie Hage confronted a body-shamer on a plane. Since then, the self-proclaimed “plant-based plus-size southern powerhouse” has preached positivity to all her followers, which include 138,000 Instagram fans.
The beauty of Hage‘s story is that she wasn’t always the confident young lady you see today; ultimately, it shows us all that we can grow to love and accept ourselves. “I was angry and sad about my body for longer than I’d like to admit,” she says. “I spent many years seeing my body as something I had to overcome, something that was a consequence, something I had to punish. I decided one day that I would try something different, and I started forgiving myself and working with my body. Life has never been so good and I’ve never been so happy.”
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They say it only takes a minute to change your life, Arcadio Del Valle knows this all to be true. The Bostonian was just a regular guy with a regular job — until one day when he was scouted through social media and walked in New York Fashion Week’s first plus-size male runway show. Now, he’s on a mission to show every man that he can be sexy, no matter what his size.
“I’m going to be the fat guy, the plus-size model that will change minds, that will show you we can be sexy too,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We can be beautiful, we can do fashion, and we can be fierce because we are — I am.”
The biggest lesson Del Valle teaches us all... “Beauty doesn’t have a standard, a shape, or preference,” he says. “Beauty is looking in the mirror seeing your flaws, embracing them day by day, learning to love yourself as you are at this very moment at any size. We are all beautiful in some shape or form of the word.”
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For years, Berlange Presilus and her family didn’t get a medical diagnosis about her leg, though it had caused her pain ever since she was a child.
Today, Berlange is a thriving model who not only struts her stuff (as a Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome survivor), but shows others that there is beauty in finding your power. She shares with Yahoo Lifestyle: “I came a long way, from disliking parts of my body to loving every bit of it, especially my affected leg. I am so happy to have finally made peace with this amazing body of mine.”
And if you needed another reminder that we’re all works of art, Berlange has some inspiring words: “Inherently, everything created by the almighty God is created with utmost perfection and beauty. Who are we as simple humans to judge or criticize such masterpieces? We are all created beautifully. Beauty is in everyone, because we are all a true manifestation of beauty.”