Considering mainstream media arguably has tremendous influence over our body image, it's no wonder that we sometimes look towards body positive celebrity photos to give us inspiration and motivation. While most glossies and advertisements would seemingly like us to believe that there's only one beauty standard to fit into, it's encouraging to come across some celebs going against the grain and presenting their own idea of beauty when they're in the public eye. Whether that means how they embrace their body, what they decide to wear, or how they refuse to believe that a "flaw" like stretch marks or scars is actually a flaw, it can make us feel like we can choose to believe those things, too.
But although we are experiencing more mainstream effects of the body positivity movement right now (hello, Sports Illustrated putting a curve model on its cover), it's interesting to see how the concept of loving your body was embraced a couple of decades back. If you look to the '90s — a decade that seemed to be all about the waif body type and Spice Girls washboard abs — you might be hard-pressed to believe that body positivity was a thing back then. But in its own ways, it was. Below are seven body positive celeb photos from the '90s.
1. Madonna Embracing The Female Form
Madonna's iconic cone boobs from her "Blonde Ambition" world tour in 1990 weren't only there for the shock value. By throwing it back to the 1950s bullet bras and exaggerating their form to pointy proportions, Madonna seemingly made an aggressive statement about the feminine figure. There's nothing to be ashamed about. There's nothing to hide. Your curves aren't embarrassing, but powerful.
2. Julia Roberts Rocking The Body Hair
While the body hair trend came back in a big way in 2015 (remember the magical glitter pits idea?) Julia Roberts has been doing it for nearly 20 years. The actress showed up to the 1999 Notting Hill premiere with a designer dress and hairy tufts of armpit hair, showing fans that you shouldn't be ashamed of anything on your body, no matter how much mainstream media will try to skewer you for it.
3. Rose McGowan Loving Her Body
I'd like to think that I'm body positive, but I don't think I'm Rose McGowan at the 1998 MTV Awards body positive. At least, I don't have any plans to show up in a sheer dress to an event... yet. While the dress had plenty of shock value, I love the message we can take from her choice: I love my body so much that I can sit comfortably in a thong throughout a whole show.
4. Demi Moore Being Proud Of Her Pregnant Belly
We have all heard the qualms pregnant women are supposed to have: "I'm as big as a house," "My boobs will never be the same again," "Look at these stretch marks," and so on. So when Moore appeared naked, heavy-bellied, and completely glorious on the 1991 cover of Vanity Fair, she sort of changed the script for those who were expecting.
Pregnancy can be stunning, powerful, and drop dead sexy. Inside the issue, the editorial showed Moore strutting around in heels, either naked or decked out in lacy panties, and proving that the stretch marks, the new weight, and the heavy belly were all gorgeous.
5. RuPaul's MAC Campaign
RuPaul's 1994 "I Am The MAC Girl" Viva Glam campaign was all things provocative, sexy, and bold. Not only did it make us want to immediately put on some MAC fake eyelashes, but it provided a platform to the LGBTQ community, encouraging everyone to embrace their preferences and not hide for the sake of mainstream ideals. We can all wear what we want and express our bodies in any way we wish. So if you want to put on a latex bodice and sit like an "M" shape, go for the gold.
6. Julia Roberts Embracing Androgyny
When Julia Roberts showed up in a boxy men's suit to the 1990 Golden Globe awards, I'm sure there were a lot of head scratches. Instead of trying to blend in on the best-dressed-list with the other 20-something actresses milling about at the awards ceremony, Roberts rolled in with something that looked like her dad's blazer.
And what an amazing statement that was. Clearly, she would wear whatever caught her eye, no matter for who (or what gender) the piece was created for. Ignoring the "masculine" label of the suit and embracing androgyny, Roberts demonstrated body positivity simply because she threw away the "female" and "masculine" labels aside.
7. Lil Kim Not Being Scared Of Her Body
Boobies aren't scary. I repeat: Boobies are not scary. No matter how shameful society tries to make the nipple (just think of how uncomfortable you probably feel going out sans bra, or the fact that we even need something called the #freethenipple movement), just try to vault over that idea. At the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, Lil Kim got it. She freed her left nipple under a mermaid-like pastie, proving she was unafraid of her body.
It would seem that the '90s gave us more than bucket hats and jelly sandals. It also gave us an inspiring set of humans who embraced body positivity in their own way, and gave those watching at home some inspiration.
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