Social media has often been criticized for promoting unrealistic body standards. But it has also led to the rise of the body positivity movement, which has encouraged countless women around the world to embrace what nature gave them and love the skin that they are in.

Instagram is the platform where the body positivity movement can be seen in all its glory, with many models and prominent figures using it as a means to share pictures of themselves showing off flaws that would have traditionally been deemed as unacceptable by the media.

Check out the video below where model Ashley Graham explains how she learned to love her curves:

One of the biggest proponents of body positivity on social media is the model Ashley Graham who, despite being an average dress size for a woman in the US, was told that she was too fat to make it in the modeling industry. However, she went on to prove her naysayers wrong.

Graham has now made a name for herself not only as a plus size model but as a model who refuses to allow her pictures to be edited by magazines. This allows women to see more normal bodies in the media, which undoubtedly has a positive effect on their mental health.

In refusing to have her pictures edited, Graham has proudly shown off her cellulite in magazines and on Instagram too. Featured above is an unedited picture from her Sports Illustrated photo shoot which she shared with her 6.5 million followers.

This picture was captioned with lyrics from Kendrick Lamar’s song ‘Humble’, with Graham writing, “Show me somethin’ natural like a** with some stretch marks… OR cellulite.”

Cellulite is typically edited out of professional modeling pictures despite the fact that 80 percent of women over the age of 20 have it – a fact which demonstrates just how problematic this common practice is.

To further promote this message, Graham recently shared a number of other pictures of herself showing off her cellulite. These were taken for her own line for inclusive fashion house Swimsuits For All.

What made these pictures so inspiring was that they were taken from almost every angle of the model’s body, and she was praised by fans on Instagram for being “real” and having the courage to show off her “imperfections”.

“She helps me realize my cellulite and hips are beautiful,” one person commented.

Another added, “Thank you for normalizing cellulite. It’s so unfair that women have to try to live up to impossible airbrushed standards thanks to mass media. I appreciate your body positivity.”

This is not, however, the first time that Graham has so candidly shared pictures of her cellulite on Instagram.

She took this close-up of her thigh while on holiday last year in the Philippines.

“I work out. I do my best to eat well. 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,” its caption read.

Despite being a source of inspiration for so many women now, Graham has admitted that she didn’t always see her body in such a positive light.

“I haven’t always felt confident in my body either,” she said.

“This is just a moment in your life and if you want change, it’s not a pill that you take, it’s not a boyfriend that changes your mind, it’s not a family member – it’s you,” the model continued.

“I always tell women, get down in your bra and panties, look yourself in the mirror and say ‘I love you. Back fat you are my best friend. Thighs you are so sexy you can’t stop rubbing against each other.’”

“Start talking to those things that you don’t really love and all of a sudden your mind changes. You’re the one that has to do it.”

“Confidence is in there, you just have to find the role model that is in you.”

We live in a world where 88% of adolescent girls believe that the media puts undue pressure on them to be thin, according to a study by the Girl Scouts of America. Graham’s message, however, removes this pressure and encourages a healthy attitude towards the human body instead.

You keep doing you, Ashley. Us ladies and our cellulite salute you.

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