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    Lizzo's VMAs Gown Was Praised For Challenging The Expectation For Plus-Size Women To Shrink Themselves, And 22 Other Times Celebs Challenged Toxic Beauty Standards

    This year, celebrities like Kim and Khloé Kardashian have been called out for promoting unrealistic beauty standards. However, there are plenty of other people in Hollywood who are challenging those toxic expectations, including Lizzo, Selena Gomez, and Lili Reinhart.

    We all know that conventional "beauty standards" are harmful to everyone — not to mention impossible to achieve. For example, you're either not thin enough or too thin, too curvy or not curvy enough. Though beauty standards can vary by culture and region, there's one universal truth: No body will ever be perfect in the eyes of the entire world.

    Still, it can be hard not to compare yourself with the celebrities who claim that the unrealistic beauty standards they promote are "attainable" for people without access to personal trainers, chefs, and expensive cosmetic procedures. Some celebs have been standing up to such impossible beauty standards by embracing their bodies in front of the camera just the way they are.

    Here are 23 times celebs challenged conventional beauty standards, proving there's no such thing as a "perfect body":

    1. After Lizzo graced the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards red carpet in a stunning Jean Paul Gaultier outfit, she duetted a TikTok from fashion analyst Mandy Lee, who praised her for challenging the notion that plus-size women should shrink themselves, by taking up space with her voluminous couture.

    Lizzo in her VMAs gown

    Sharing the video on Twitter, Lizzo captioned it, "FAT BLACK FASHION ICON."

    Close-up of Lizzo in her gown

    Several months earlier, she told People magazine, "I think I have a really hot body. I'm a body icon, and I'm embracing that more and more every day."

    Lizzo performing

    She continued, "And what I'm doing is stepping into my confidence and my power to create my own beauty standard. And one day that will just be the standard."

    Lizzo added, "I wasn't supposed to survive. I wasn't supposed to make it this far. I wasn't supposed to be a millionaire. I wasn't supposed to be a sex symbol. I wasn't supposed to be on the cover of People, but I am. So how can I make this worthwhile?"

    Lizzo performing

    She added, "We all know I'm fat. I know I'm fat. It doesn't bother me. I like being fat, and I'm beautiful and I'm healthy. [...] I don't think I'm the only kind of fat girl there is. I want us to be freed from that box we've been put in."

    2. Selena Gomez celebrated her figure on TikTok. She made a video to a sound that starts with a voice telling someone to "suck it in," then lip-synched the response: "I'm not sucking shit in. Real stomachs is coming the fuck back, OK?"

    Credit: @selenagomez

    In a previous post on her TikTok stories, she said, "Honestly, I don't care about my weight because people bitch about it anyway. ... Bitch, I am perfect the way I am."

    Selena standing in front of a beauty counter in a store

    In 2019, she opened up about the way body-shaming affected her after she was shamed for weight fluctuation that occurs from the daily lupus medication she takes. 

    She told the Giving Back Generation vodcast, "I really noticed when people started attacking me for that. ... In reality, that’s just my truth. I fluctuate. It depends what's happening in my life. It's out of my control, and that got to me big time. I think, for me, that really messed me up for a bit."

    In 2020, Selena shared for the first time an Instagram picture of her inner-thigh scar (which came from an emergency procedure she had after her kidney transplant), writing, "When I got my kidney transplant, I remember it being very difficult at first showing my scar. I didn’t want it to be in photos, so I wore things that would cover it up. Now, more than ever, I feel confident in who I am and what I went through...and I’m proud of that."

    3. Ashley Graham was praised for her 2022 VMAs look, which had cutouts that showcased her stretch marks rather than hiding them.

    Ashley on the red carpet in the cutout dress

    She told Access Hollywood, "I'm wearing Houghton, so hot, but my stretch marks are out. And I'm like, 'Okay, here we go, stretch marks, let's go!' I'm gonna show it off in the photos and in real life."

    Close-up of Ashley with the cutouts

    "I feel sexy and hot, and I'm like, Wait, I do have 8-month-old twins at home! It's a good reminder," she said.

    Many of Ashley's Instagram posts help normalize body features like stretch marks. For example, when she shared an unretouched vacation photo on Instagram, she wrote, "I love the skin I'm in. And I'm not ashamed of a few lumps, bumps, or cellulite...and you shouldn't be either."

    In 2018, people celebrated her decision to use unedited paparazzi shots as the campaign images for her Swimsuits for All collab.

    4. After their live performance on Saturday Night Live postpartum, Halsey responded to praise for the way their body looked because they didn't "want to feed the illusion that you’re meant to feel and look 'great' immediately postpartum."

    Halsey performing

    On Instagram, Halsey wrote, "[T]he body behind all those compliments the other night was wearing a custom tailored outfit and lighted perfectly after much testing, so I could feel good and do my job."

    She continued, "I will never have my 'pre baby body back' no matter how it changes physically because I have now had a baby! And that has altered me forever; emotionally, spiritually, and physically. That change is permanent. And I don’t want to go back!"

    Halsey in a lingerie corset top

    They concluded, "But [i]n the spirit of honesty, I’m really tired and not a superhuman and this is really hard. Doing my best to serve my art and my family whilst keeping it all so very real."

    5. Following her decision to stop wearing makeup in 2016, Alicia Keys was criticized for not wearing any to the VMAs.

    Halsey on the red carpet

    Sharing her decision in a Lenny Letter, she wrote, "I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."

    Some people accused her of being against makeup for everyone, but she clarified her stance on Twitter, writing, "Y'all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn't mean I'm anti-makeup. Do you!"

    Y'all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn't mean I'm anti-makeup. Do you! 😘😘

    Twitter: @aliciakeys

    In 2020, Alicia further explained her decision to stop wearing makeup for a period of time, telling Glamour UK, "Makeup was a big thing for me; I had been wearing it since I was, like, 16 years old. And then, as I got into the music world [...] I realized I became addicted to it; I didn’t feel comfortable without it."

    Close-up of Alicia

    She said, "I’m not a slave to makeup. I’m not a slave to NOT wearing makeup, either. I get to choose at [any] given moment. That's my right."

    6. Channing Tatum criticized the way he's expected to look for the Magic Mike movies as not "natural" or "healthy."

    Channing in a suit on the red carpet

    When The Kelly Clarkson Show showed him a picture of himself shirtless in Magic Mike XXL, he responded, "That might be the reason why I didn't want to do a third one, is I have to look like that."

    Channing as a stripper

    "Even if you do work out, to be that kind of in shape is not natural," he said.

    Discussing how he has to prepare for such a role, he said, "You have to starve yourself. I don't think when you're that lean, it's actually healthy."

    Channing in a bow tie

    "I don't know how people that work a 9-to-5 actually stay in shape, because it's my full-time job and I can barely do it," he added.

    In a previous appearance on Kelly Clarkson, Channing said, "As someone who works out for a job, I promise you I would not look like this unless I had to be naked in most of my movies mostly."

    Channing on the red carpet

    He added, "At some point, I have to get better at acting so I don't have to be naked in all of them."

    7. In 2019, Yara Shahidi told Allure that growing out her unibrow was a "turning point."

    Headshot of Yara

    She said, "There was something about growing out my eyebrows and realizing how much I liked them. Even on a surface level, [it’s symbolic] of me appreciating my heritage, the two sides of my family that came together to make me right now. My family in Iran, family in Wisconsin, and family in Mississippi, my Persian roots."

    She also discussed overcoming the feeling that she "needed [makeup] to be pretty for the world." She said, "It took a year-plus for me to learn to feel comfortable in my skin. Now when I want to use makeup, it’s because I feel like doing it, not because I feel like it’s a necessity."

    Yara smiling with long pigtails

    On the subject of embracing her curly hair, Yara said, "Again, it may seem surface level, but one [symbolic] thing about my curly hair is that I can’t help but to take up space. There are times when I don’t feel like taking up space, but because my hair does, I match that."

    Yara sitting

    She continued, "Those are the days I’m grateful for, those days I walk into a room and I have to choose to be present, have to choose to be okay with the amount of space or attention I take up."

    Yara said, "We’ve been told to work backward: 'Look conventionally pretty, and then you will feel confident.' So there’s something about just embracing your unique physical features that ends up meaning so much more than just, 'Oh, I like my face.' It means I like myself. And to like yourself can be a revolutionary act."

    Yara smiling on the red carpet with her hair up

    8. Simone Biles called out the "growing competition that has nothing to do with performance itself" in gymnastics and other professions — beauty — and the people who judge others based on their own standards.

    Simone performing

    On Twitter, she said, "I've learned to put on a strong front and let most of it slide. But I'd be lying if I told you what people say about my arms, my legs, my body... of how I look in a dress, leotard, bathing suit or even in casual pants hasn't gotten me down at times."

    Simone on the red carpet in a gown

    She continued, "Today, I say I am done competing VS. beauty standards and the toxic culture of trolling when others feel as though their expectations are not met... because nobody should tell you or I what beauty should or should not look like."

    Simone sitting and smiling

    She concluded, "Beauty is #NoCompetition."

    9. Saoirse Ronan embraced director Greta Gerwig's suggestion not to cover up her acne in Lady Bird.

    Headshot of Saoirse

    Saoirse told Variety, "I wasn’t insecure about it, for whatever reason. I just felt totally game to do it."

    Saoirse opening a door

    She said, "We were both in a very open state. And this was a raw character. There was nothing to hide behind."

    Saoirse and Greta on the red carpet

    10. Jameela Jamil shared an Instagram picture of the stretch marks on her chest, calling them "a normal, beautiful thing."

    "I have stretch marks all over my body and I hereby rename them all Babe Marks. They are a sign my body dared to take up extra space in a society that demands our eternal thinness," she said.

    Jameela on the red carpet

    "They are my badge of honour for resisting society’s weaponizing of the female form," she continued.

    "PS. LOVE YOUR BROWN SKIN," Jameela added.

    Jameela on the red carpet

    "I tan responsibly but I love to tan! I love to embrace and celebrate my heritage. This skin bleaching and whitening should be banned. It’s inherently racist, classist and emotionally very damaging. #brownandproud," she concluded.

    11. Lili Reinhart felt "really insecure about" and "really, really didn't want to do" a "bra and underwear scene" on Riverdale, but she decided to do it anyway because she "can't preach body positivity if [she doesn't] practice it."

    Lili on the red carpet

    "Even if I'm not feeling amazing about my body, I felt it was important for me to do the scene anyway in my bra and underwear so people could see my body as it was," she told the Los Angeles Times.

    Lili on the red carpet

    "I did it for the people who feel like they need to look a certain way," she said.

    12. Kelly Clarkson called out the fact that body-shaming comments don't actually come from a place of concern for her mental or physical health — they "just care about aesthetics."

    Kelly on the red carpet

    "It’s when I’m fat that I’m happy. People think, Oh, there’s something wrong with her. She’s putting on weight. I’m like, 'Oh, no! I’m sorry, but that represents happiness in my emotional world,'" she told Redbook.

    Headshot of Kelly smiling

    "For me, when I’m skinny is usually when I’m not doing well. If you gauge your life on what other people think, you’re going to be in a constant state of panic trying to please everyone," she said.

    13. Rihanna was widely praised for posting an Instagram picture featuring her leg hair.

    Fans also praised her for showcasing her stretch marks in the third picture of the carousel post. In the comments, Rihanna clarified, "I got stretch marks but dats the sun."

    She again received praise for ignoring societal expectations for women's bodies during her pregnancy. Rather than adopting a typical maternity style, she chose to wear outfits that revealed and showcased her bump.

    A pregnant Rihanna in front of a beauty counter and baring her abdomen

    She told People magazine, "I'm enjoying not having to worry about covering up my tummy," the multi–Grammy Award winner said. "If I feel a little chubby, it's like, whatever! It's a baby!"

    14. On Instagram, Hilary Duff shared an unretouched vacation picture of herself in a swimsuit "on behalf of young girls, women, and mothers of all ages."

    "Since websites and magazines love to share 'celeb flaws' — well I have them! My body has given me the greatest gift of my life: Luca, five years ago. I'm turning 30 in September and my body is healthy and gets me where I need to go," she wrote.

    Headshot of Hilary

    "Let's be proud of what we've got and stop wasting precious time in the day wishing we were different, better, and unflawed," she said.

    15. On Instagram, Jonah Hill highlighted the way the press contributed to his negative body image by sharing screenshots of a Daily Mail story that included paparazzi pictures of him at the beach.

    Headshot of Jonah

    He wrote, "I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30s even in front of family and friends. Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers."

    Jonah in a checkered suit on the red carpet

    He continued, "So the idea that the media tries to play me, by stalking me while surfing and printing photos like this, and it can’t [faze] me anymore is dope. I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself."

    Jonah added, "This isn’t a 'good for me' post. And it’s definitely not a 'feel bad for me' post. It’s for the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect. All my love."

    Jonah on a panel

    Addressing the Daily Mail, he concluded, "Not even you can take that smile from my face."

    16. In a TikTok video, Camila Cabello shared that when she went on a run wearing "a top that shows [her] belly and wasn't tucking it in," she "was like, 'Damn,'" before reminding herself that "being at war with your body is so last season."

    Credit: @camilacabello

    She said, "I am grateful for this body that lets me do what I need to do. We are real women with curves and cellulite and stretch marks and fat, and we gotta own that, baby!"

    Camila smiling and holding a microphone

    Several months later, she opened up about feeling the need to look a certain way while going to the beach because she knew paparazzi would be waiting to take pictures of her.

    Camila on the red carpet

    On Twitter, she said, "Today I got a new bikini, a whole fuckin cute outfit, put lip gloss on, and didn't eat anything too heavy before going in the OCEAN cause I knew it was gonna be basically a whole photoshoot."

    Camila performing

    She continued, "I held my core so tight my abs hurt and didn't breathe and barely smiled and was so self conscious of where the paps were the whole time I couldn't let go and relax and do what we're meant to do when we go out into nature."

    Camila said, "I knew I looked 'good' in the pictures and thought I would feel accomplished and yet Ive never had a worse time at the beach. [...] [W]e see pictures of women and praise them for looking good, for looking fit or 'healthy', but what is health if you are so fixated on what your body looks like that your mental health suffers and you can't enjoy your life?"

    Headshot of Camila

    She added, "Who am I trying to look attractive for and am I even attractive to myself if I can't let loose and relax and have fun and be playful on a beautiful day at the beach?"

    17. Perrie Edwards from Little Mix previously revealed that the scar on her stomach from multiple childhood esophagus surgeries was her biggest insecurity, but in 2017, she posted an Instagram picture showcasing her scar.

    Perrie

    Fans praised her increasing confidence, and many were inspired to share pictures of their own scars.

    Three years later, Perrie shared another, more casual snap of her scar on Instagram (the third image in this carousel), captioning it, "MOOD & Ily icle scar."

    18. When Gigi Hadid started modeling after high school, a lot of people "were hard on [her]" and told her that her "volleyball body" wasn't a "runway body." However, instead of listening to them, she found a designer who recognized that she was runway-worthy: Jean Paul Gaultier.

    Gigi on the runway

    She told i-D magazine, "There were still stylists or designers at that time who were putting me in their shows, but putting me [in] something that really covered my body. And so for him to make me feel like he wanted me to shine in that way, it really meant a lot to me as a young model."

    Gigi outside in a coat

    She added, "I know that he has done that for a lot of people."

    Later on in her career, Gigi lost weight due to medical reasons, but people criticized her for being too thin. On Twitter, she wrote, "For those of you so determined to come up with why my body has changed over the years, you may not know that when I started @ 17 I was not yet diagnosed w/Hashimoto’s disease; those of u who called me 'too big for the industry' were seeing inflammation & water retention due to that."

    Gigi on the red carpet

    She continued, "Over the last few years I’ve been properly medicated to help symptoms including those, as well as extreme fatigue, metabolism issues, body’s ability to retain heat, etc ... I was also part of a holistic medical trial that helped my thyroid levels balance out."

    She added, "I will not further explain the way my body looks, just as anyone, with a body type that doesn't suit ur 'beauty' expectation, shouldn't have to."

    Headshot of Gigi

    She added, "Not to judge others, but drugs are not my thing, stop putting me in that box just because u dont understand the way my body has matured."

    19. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington called out people who criticized his appearance after he shared a lighthearted video of himself dancing shirtless on the beach.

    On Instagram, he said, "I wondered, if I was still young and fit, would I be getting the same comments? There has been such a force behind accepting all shapes and sizes and aging in the female community, which is AWESOME (keep it coming), but maybe let’s give that same grace to men?"

    He continued, "No, I don’t have a six pack anymore or a luscious head of hair (with frosted tips) but what I do have is wisdom, empathy, life lessons, and at 57 years old, I’ve TRULY never been happier!"

    He also said, "Anyways, all this to say: I’m human and I have feelings. Yes, I am older but I think it’s pretty cool."

    Headshot of Ty in a jeans jacket

    20. When Cosmopolitan put Tess Holliday on its cover, she praised the magazine on Twitter, writing, "If I saw a body like mine on this magazine when I was a young girl, it would have changed my life."

    Tess on the red carpet

    Fans also celebrated the fact that the cover showcased Tess in a swimsuit rather than hiding her body in oversize clothes or tightly cropping her face.

    Tess in a billowy dress on the red carpet

    21. After Sarah Hyland was harshly skinny-shamed over her Instagram posts, she addressed the criticism on Twitter, writing, "Considering I've basically been on bed rest for the past few months, I've lost a lot of muscle mass. My circumstances have put me in a place where I'm not in control of what my body looks like."

    Sarah on the red carpet

    She continued, "I strive to be as healthy as possible, as everyone should. [...] I am here to say that no one should aim to be the weight that I am right now. I am working hard to maintain my weight by eating as much protein as possible and continue to be STRONG and healthy."

    Sarah smiling on a talk show

    Sarah said, "There's no need to worry! I’ve been down before and I’ll probably be down again in my lifetime but I’m steadfast and solid and will conquer my obstacles. [...] I know that when I get clearance I will be able to get back to the STRONG, lean and fabulous self I know I can be." 

    Addressing the inevitable criticism she would receive for gaining weight in the future, she said, "I don’t mind when you say that I look pregnant. Or fat. Because I know that my face is swollen from medication that is saving my life."

    Sarah on the red carpet

    22. Gabourey Sidibe told Refinery29 that "what really pushed [her] to think differently" about her body was "exhaustion from feeling bad that somebody else thought [she] was too fat, or thought [she] was too Black."

    Gabby in a sparkly dress on the red carpet

    She said, "I really sat down and made a list of all the things I liked about me: my personality, my face, my body. The world will hand me a hate list. And I just sat down, and I developed a love list for myself."

    Gabby in an animal-print dress on the red carpet

    In her memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, Gabby reflected on her decision to get laparoscopic bariatric surgery for health reasons.

    Gabby on the red carpet

    She wrote, "It has taken me years to realize that what I was born with is all beautiful. I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels. I want to do a cartwheel. I want not to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs."

    Gabby sitting and holding a microphone

    Gabby continued, "There’s nothing ugly about me. Anyone trying to convince me that I am — and it’s usually me — is wasting her time. I was in a war with my body for a long time. If I’d started treating it better sooner, I wouldn’t have spent so many years hating myself. But I love my body now."

    23. And finally, after giving birth to her twins, Beyoncé told Vogue, "To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real."

    Beyoncé on the red carpet

    She added, "Right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be."

    However, her journey to body acceptance began much earlier. She told Harper's Bazaar, "I remember when I started hearing people criticize me after I had put on some weight. I was 19. None of the sample clothes fit me. I was feeling a bit insecure from hearing some of the comments, and I woke up one day and refused to feel sorry for myself, so I wrote 'Bootylicious.'"

    Beyoncé performing

    She said, "It was the beginning of me using whatever life handed me and turning it into something empowering to other women and men who were struggling with the same thing."