Body shaming- the mocking or criticising of a person’s body, exists in many forms, from online comments from trolls to rude comments in real life. It seems like you can’t escape it. Thankfully, we’re finally starting to push back against body shaming and creating a more positive movement: Body Unshaming. Here, we hear from three women who’ve overcome body shaming to reclaim their own identities. From supermodel Winnie Harlow to OAP Adenike Oyetunde on what body confidence means to them.

Latasha Ngwugbe, Founder, ‘aboutthatcurvylife’

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“I can’t go into every Nigerians mind and change how they see a curvy person, but I can change the way they approach the topic. I can let them know [that] not every large person is unhealthy or lazy; not every large person would never amount to anything. Even in my life, it’s my goal to be fit, I’ve never wanted to be skinny. I love curves but I work out, take walks, do sit ups, planks, I’m eating healthier so I can live longer but just because I appear to be heavier than you are, doesn’t mean I’m going to die before you. You could walk outside right now, you [haven’t] eaten rice in the last seven years because you are afraid of 2 kg of fat and then get killed by a bus. We are promoting a healthy lifestyle; we’re accepting first, we are empowering, and then when you feel good about yourself, everything will fall into place. That’s our belief.” (Exerpted from Ngwugbe reveals the story behind ‘aboutthatcurvylife’)

Winnie Harlow, Model

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“People have an idea of who I am or what I should stand for solely based on how I look or what they’ve heard about me and that’s not necessarily who I am. I was born with confidence. It was just something that I lost when people made me feel like I shouldn’t be confident. My whole childhood, I never thought anything was different about me. My family never treated me like anything was different. It was when I started going to school [that] I was told I was different, and was teased because I was different. That made me think there was something wrong with me. And it just really took me not thinking about anyone else’s opinion of me and focusing on my opinion of myself to be like, “why am I not confident?” […] People say things like, ‘oh my gosh, it is so amazing; you are so brave for going out and being yourself’, and I’m like, ‘No, I’m not brave, I’m confident.’ Saying brave to me about going outside and being confident in my skin implies that there is a problem with my skin and I must need a pat on the back for being so confident to go outside and looking like this. My goal was never to prove a point to anyone other than myself. Change in the industry will come when using a model who is skinny or plus-size, or has vitiligo isn’t a trend or statement…” (Excerpted from Women 2016: Model Winnie Harlow on confidence and defiance)

Adenike Oyetunde, OAP

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“Until you accept your body for what it is, and work on it, where you can, people will keep defining you by the standards they set. It takes a lot to accept your body after a limb loss and rock it, like it doesn’t matter. However, it took me years to get here. I am proud of what my physical state encapsulates now and there’s no changing that. I am a woman, and even if my person isn’t tied to my physical body, I am clearly more than even the physicality.”

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