Why We Need To #EmpowerALLBodies

Body positivity continues to be an issue that society struggles with as a whole — which is why it's so important that photography projects and campaigns continue to address it. To whit, Jes Baker, aka The Militant Baker, and photographer Jade Beall recently teamed up on their #EmpowerALLBodies project. A powerful photo series, #EmpowerALLBodies depicts the kind of diversity — diversity of all types — that we need to see, both in advertising and in the world at large. Our bodies are amazing no matter what they look like, and it's high time we fully embraced that fact.

What #EmpowerALLBodies aims to do is right there in its name: Empower all bodies, not just some of them. Although a number of campaigns have been making strides recently towards being more inclusive — all of which are important steps in the right direction — #EmpowerAllBodies takes what those existing campaigns began and runs with them. Writes Baker on her website:

When a person is constantly bombarded by images of one “ideal” body (plus or otherwise) it wreaks havoc on their psyche. The continual exposure mentally trains them to believe that only one body is worthy and this unfortunate social conditioning is one of the largest contributors to low self-esteem, body dysmotphia, eating disorders, and other sever body image-related issues — all of which affect daily living. Visible diversity is a solution to these problems, and asking for it is anything but egotistical. It's absolutely necessary.

#EmpowerALLBodies shows us what we can do and where we can go to achieve not only inclusiveness in advertising, but also realigned thinking about our bodies as a whole. Bodies aren't just a size or number; nor are they limited in shape, color, height, or any of the other billion qualities they can have. We contain multitudes, and our bodies are a testament to that fact.

And the beauty of it all is that #EmpowerALLBodies isn't the only project out there working towards this end. These five other body positive campaigns are places we should be looking towards for our inspiration — in art, advertising, and real life:

1. #LoveYourLines

#LoveYourLines has been around for a while now, but it started trending again last week after Chrissy Teigen posted a photograph of her stretch marks on Instagram. Stretch marks aren't something to be disdained; they're proof of all the remarkable things our bodies can do and everything we've accomplished during our time here on Earth. They're something to be celebrated — a point which #LoveYourLines drives home.

2. Mod Cloth's 2015 Swimsuit Campaign

In addition to taking the Heroes Pledge for Advertisers, which asks participants to “do their best not to alter the models shape, size, color, or proportion as well as enhancing or removing features,” Mod Cloth also used its employees as models for their 2015 swimsuit campaign. They are real women, a wonderfully diverse group in so many ways, and they all look fabulous. Awesome? Awesome.

3. Natural Beauty

While it's true that photographer Ben Hopper's “Natural Beauty” series largely features conventionally attractive women, it takes huge steps towards normalizing women's body hair. Sexiness and hair aren't mutually exclusive, and these photographs prove it.

4. Body by Derby

Cory Layman's “Body by Derby” series focuses on roller derby players — but the overall message is much broader than just that. It challenges what we think of as an “athletic” body type by showing us that athletes look like anything and everything. An “athletic” body type is any and all body types, and the individuality of the people the bodies belong to is just as important as everything else.

5. Role Models, Not Runway Models

Brian Ach/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

This one isn't a print ad or a photo series, but it's important all the same. When designer Carrie Hammer debuted her collection during New York Fashion Week in February, she made it a point to use “role models, not runway models.” These role models were chosen for a huge variety of reasons beyond simply what they look like: American Horror Story actress Jamie Brewer became the first model with Down Syndrome ever to walk in New York Fashion Week, Bustle's own Marie Southard Ospina rocked the runway, and other models included Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant, Director of Social Good Programs for Microsoft Wendy Norman, and more.

Images: Courtesy Jes Baker and Jade Beall (3); goinjennifer, therealbenhopper/Instagram; Mod Cloth; courtesy Cory Layman; Getty Images