Many young girls suffer from body image issues, which is no surprise considering the mainstream media constantly bombards teens with unrealistic images of how our bodies should look.
So what can we do for our girls? For starters, celebrate their bodies and help them embrace the way they look.
In 2016, some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry advocated for body positivity, including Ashley Graham, Emily Ratajkowski, Ariel Winter and Serena Williams. But when it comes to body image babes teenage girls can look up to, who is making a difference online and in their communities?
Well, here are five young women who prove they are worthy of being a role model for any teen girl struggling with body confidence:
1. Barbie Ferreira
Time and time again, Barbie Ferreira has proved she's confident in her skin, helping girls around the world feel empowered, no matter their size. The 19-year-old has proudly showed off her stretch marks on social media and has spoken openly about a lack of representation in the media of plus-size teenage girls.
"Representation is something so important," Ferreira told Teen Vogue. "Seeing someone who you can relate to in the media is everything as a child and a lot of people aren't granted that luxury."
2. Alessia Cara
In her "Scars to Your Beautiful" music video, Canadian pop star Alessia Cara has a number of people from different backgrounds share their stories of being different and loving those differences. She is a true advocate for self-love and has opened up about the challenges of working in an industry that often idolizes perfection.
"It was harder for me before I entered the industry, being young and not really that confident in myself, because I was just seeing all these images of what I felt I was supposed to look like and I was always really self-conscious about it," the 20-year-old told HuffPost Canada Style last year.
Cara uses her global platform to inspire young women to love their insecurities and know they are not alone. "Scars To Your Beautiful" is a love letter made for young women like Alessia who are negatively affected by the media's unrealistic beauty standards.
3. Rowan Blanchard
Rowan Blanchard may only be 15 years old, but she believes strongly in the girls of her generation. When the actress is not fighting for people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community or feminism, she's out there talking about body positivity. Last year, Rowan, the star of "Girl Meets World," gave us a different view of the industry, saying in order to love yourself, young girls shouldn't feel the pressure to be 100 per cent happy about every single aspect of their appearance. Why? Because it takes time to be comfortable in your skin.
my problem w most media (spec magazines & tv) is that it always seems that u must hate ur body or be v carefree and love every inch of it— Rowan Blanchard (@RowanBlanchard) March 9, 2016
4. Amandla Stenberg
As one of the most important role models for young women today, the actress has not shied away from talking about body politics and image, especially for young women of colour. On Instagram she has opened up about her shifting relationship with her body and "feeling shame for black sexuality," but in an interview with Teen Vogue, she said she always stays true to herself and is constantly discovering her power in the world.
"I feel like the only way to fight that is to just be yourself on the most genuine level and to connect with other black girls who are awakening and realizing that they’ve been trying to conform."
JoJo was only 13 years old when she got her first number one single in the United States, and through it all she battled with learning to love herself and accepting her body. Now at the age of 25, she is addressing all the pressures young women face growing up and encouraging teen girls to give themselves a break and stop apologizing for their differences.
"The possibilities are endless, really, when you accept how you were made and are able to celebrate your unique beauty, and find it in everyone you meet," she wrote in a personal essay for Motto. "Whether that’s skinny, thick, athletic, chubby, or however you describe yourself... When you accept who you are, it’s only a matter of time before others have no choice but to follow suit."
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