Most of us, myself included, have grown up and been able to rattle off a laundry list of all of our insecurities since we were young, those so-called “flaws” that signify how we in no way resemble what we see in media. What’s been great about the current body positivity movement is its awareness to different body types in society, in the media, and in the internet sphere. It has been hugely instrumental with body acceptance and facilitating self-love, and I celebrate that. However, the majority of all the classic TV characters has not really reflected that, where we haven’t seen as many characters that resemble us in reality, scars, stretch marks and all.
Believe me, I get it. To be frank, I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, confidence, and accepting what I look like. It’s always been difficult to feel confident when you turn on media programs and no one that looks like you, or is dealing with similar insecurities, is seen as the protagonist, the hero, the successful one, or the romantic lead. However, quite a few shows of the past and present have begun to knock down those beauty ideals of the past and helped to inspire us by showcasing that everyone is different and every difference is beautiful. Here’s a look at some of the most empowering moments to get you through this summer with total confidence and nothing but love and admiration for what you actually look like, cellulite, zits and all.
1. “The Bold Type”
On the third episode of “The Bold Type’s” season two that aired two weeks ago, the Freeform series conquered body positivity, and not just in a way of acknowledging it briefly, but rather they made it the cover story. (Pun intended.) From Tess Holliday’s cameo as a body positive champion and successful model, the girls embracing their “pimples, stretch marks, and moles” in a naked and un-retouched photoshoot, to Jacqueline schooling the board on why it’s such an important message. One of the most inspiring quotes was Jacqueline saying, “Body positivity is about self-love, self-acceptance. And that is healthy” to the media board member that just didn’t get it. All the motivation you need to live your best, confident lives this summer.
2. “American Housewife”
This is the ultimate summer swimsuit inspo we need this summer. Whether you’re scared of rocking a two-piece or that moment you go from covered up to disrobing as you descend into the water, we can all relate to Katie and daughter Anna Kat’s plight of body and swimsuit insecurities. So, follow Katie’s lead, and let go of that coverup and embrace your best swimsuit life this summer and just enjoy the sun, pool, and oceans, judgemental watchers be damned, because you look awesome in your swimsuit and confidence.
3. “Drop Dead Diva”
The premise of the former Lifetime show was what happens when a deceased model awakes in the wrong body— and into one of an accomplished lawyer, who happens to be a plus-size, drab dresser. We see Deb-as-Jane eventually come to terms with her new body and learning that confidence makes the world of difference. And that’s a message we can all get behind.
4. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
One thing “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” gets right is creating a female protagonist who’s relatable, but still owns herself, even though she has struggled with if she’s pretty enough to get the guy and her body type. Hey, Rebecca, we’ve all been there! The CW show is all about empowering females to be strong and confident for yourself, and that is why it’s so great.
Maggie is the best friend we truly deserve. While Liza becomes nervous about how she looks and her appearance, her best friend Maggie steps in with some words of wisdom, “With everything that women have to be paranoid about, we don’t need to be making up more stuff. You look amazing.” Morning mantra right here!
6. “Ugly Betty”
Betty taught us not to let insecurities overpower your dreams and your attitude. It’s that age-old lesson of “don’t judge a book by its cover” because your confidence outweighs any external beauty or so-called imperfections. Besides, if Betty can survive (and thrive) at Mode, then you got this.
7. “That’s So Raven”
Growing up, this was arguably one of the most inspiring moments on television I’d seen, let alone from a Disney entity! Seeing Raven Symone openly speak up about unrealistic body standards and how that makes people feel gave all the young girls (myself included) out there that didn’t fit Hollywood’s ideal of a “perfect body” all of the confidence in ourselves to own who were were. And that moment is something every little girl should have moving forward.
8. “First Dates”
On the popular British reality show, “First Dates,” contestant Eve stunned the world with her power and strength as she removed her wig, covering up her alopecia, for the first time. Her strength empowered viewers as she unapologetically embraced her baldness and went on enjoying the on-camera date and creating a romantic connection, sans-wig. We should all have this level of internal strength to embrace every so-called flaw.
9. “Suite Life of Zach and Cody”
Another time Disney addressed body insecurities, they discussed eating disorders when neither girl really had any issues to begin with, other than letting some outsider into their heads and disrupting their confidence. That was an important lesson as well, don’t let the haters get to you, because you are beautiful (and definitely model-worthy) as you are.
10. “Broad City”
One of the things that Comedy Central series does best is showcasing these girls living their best selves, confident in who they are and owning it. Ilana is unapologetically herself, with plenty of confidence in everything she does. Then, there’s Abbi who’s not as self-assure but who’s worked hard to find her true happiness in her whole life and can own it as well. Something to aspire to.
11. “Gilmore Girls”
While Melissa McCarthy’s Sookie on “Gilmore Girls” was primarily meant as a humorous character, during her first date with Jackson in season one, we see her as vulnerable, worrying if her date will turn out well and if he’ll like her and the way she looks. Best friend Lorelai reassures her pal, and as the evening, and future seasons, later unfold, it’s clear she had little to worry about, because Jackson liked her when she wasn’t trying too hard and was just herself.
12. “The Mindy Project”
If Mindy Lahiri has taught us anything, it’s confidence, confidence, confidence. May we all have Mindy’s level of confidence in every aspect of her (and our) lives, from her bright wardrobe and outspoken personality, she’s truly an inspiring TV role model we could all learn a lesson from.
Gabourey Sidibe’s sex scene on “Empire” was one of the first times a plus-size woman of color is seen in a sex scene, proving that it’s not just for skinny, model-pretty people.
14. “Project Runway”
During season 14 of “Project Runway,” Heidi Klum and the panel of judges chose Ashley Nell Tipton as the season’s grand winner. Tipton was notably the first plus-size designer who won the grand prize, and choosing to design for real women and their different body types, as showcased in her final runway show. As the competition series has continued, the rules have evolved where the pool of models regularly reflects a variety of body types. A step in the right direction for the fashion industry.
After Mercedes faints from extreme dieting, Quinn is there to support her Glee Club pal and lets her know that she is already beautiful the way she is, no change needed. Quinn tells her how she’s lucky to “always feel at home in her body” because throughout the show Mercedes had plenty of goal-worthy confidence. Even the most confident of us have those days where it seems like we’re not enough, but it’s important to remember that even when we don’t think so, we are, always.
16. “How to Get Away With Murder”
Even without saying much, this scene from “How to Get Away With Murder” still says a lot in an empowering take of Annalise Keating taking off her wig and all her makeup. It’s an inspiring message that you can still be strong, powerful, and beautiful even without your hair done and makeup carefully applied.
Plenty of strong female role models to look up to that proves you are beautiful as you are and it’s high time to embrace who you are, flaws and haters be damned. Because they can’t mess with confidence. ✨