'Body positivity' - believe it?

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Beauty history was made recently when Ashley Graham was picked up by Revlon to be the first “plus-sized” model in history to land a major beauty contract, joining Gal Gadot, Imaan Hammam and Raquel Zimmerman in their “Live Boldly” campaign. Graham also broke down barriers by being one of a handful of non sample-sized models to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Body diversity has become the topic du jour in the entertainment and modeling worlds. According to the data polling source Supplied and beauty manufacturing company Dove, nine in 10 women opt out of important life activities because of body image issues. A similar percentage of women put their health at risk to stop themselves from eating to lose weight.

Cross-cultural research by Dove has indicated that body image recently reached critical impact levels. But thanks to more outspoken models and high-profile individuals, body image and self-esteem as these issues relate to women is improving.

A 2016 study by Bryan Karazsia, an associate professor of psychology at The College of Wooster, examined data from more than 100,000 men and women over 31 years, finding women’s body image dissatisfaction dropped by 3.3% — a “substantial” finding. Some of the reasons behind the change include a shift in media depictions, a new body ideal of lean and toned rather than “skinny,” and because a greater number of people in North America are simply larger.