Do us a favor: Take a quick glance at the women around you right now. What do you notice? For us, it's how wonderfully different we all are—and we're not just talking skin tone, hair texture, or eye makeup. We celebrate our unique bodies on Byrdie on a regular basis, and self-love is always top of mind. But while it's easy to talk about the importance of body positivity, actually believing it and internalizing it is another beast.
Luckily social media has given us a massive community of women openly discussing, practicing, and celebrating body positivity. Always ones to seek a little encouragement ourselves, we interviewed three women who are spearheading the body-positivity movement and picked their brains. And as expected, they didn't disappoint, offering up sage tips and advice on loving and caring for the skin we're in.
They've all had different journeys, but the three all agreed on the importance of finding an exercise routine you love, and they also underlined how crucial it is to feel comfortable and confident in your clothing while doing it. Their go-to activewear pick these days? Target's new line, JoyLab, which features functional fabrics and cute styles that fit and flatter every body type.
Need a little encouragement? Find out what body positivity means to these inspiring women.
Claire Fountain is proof of the power social media has to spread body positivity. Trill Yoga, which she started as a hashtag on Instagram, has grown into a full-fledged lifestyle movement followed by thousands of people. The idea is that you can take your yoga and meditation practice with you anywhere, anytime. "I like having a quiet studio to practice in where I don't hit my own furniture or break walls (I speak from personal experience), but you can really work out anywhere if you're focused," she tells us.
However, Fountain's journey hasn't always been so calming. In her teenage years, she battled an eating disorder that threatened her life—something many women go through but don't often talk about. She speaks about the challenges she's faced to truly love her body: "It took getting over that experience and learning my worth was not physical to really appreciate my body and take care of the gift that it is."
Over time, I learned how much I value being strong and capable, and how beautiful my body is just as it is.
BYRDIE: How has your relationship with your body changed since high school?
CLAIRE FOUNTAIN: In high school, my body was not my friend. I was not being kind to it, nor did I like it that much. It almost gave up on me with how I was treating it. It took getting over that experience and learning my worth was not physical that I learned to really appreciate my body and take care of the gift that it is. I find such beauty in just how human it is. This is a conviction that continues to grow with age and life experiences for sure.
BYRDIE: What influences your concept of self-love now?
CF: My relationship with my body has evolved in really special ways, and I think reflecting on that helps you value the present moment more. It's also pretty amazing what the body is capable of, and over time, I learned how much I value being strong and capable, as well as how beautiful it is just as it is.
BYRDIE: So what makes you feel beautiful now?
CF: Being really hydrated—fresh out of the shower with lots of oils on, for sure. But mostly, I feel beautiful in the mornings or late at night in my natural, very human state, and when I'm loving well.
BYRDIE: You're a longtime weight lifter and obviously you practice yoga. How do you feel after working out?
CF: I always feel so good. I find working out helps my depression and anxiety, so it's always a reminder after a workout how important keeping this practice up is for me.
BYRDIE: How does great workout apparel make you feel?
CF: Great workout apparel means being comfortable. This includes a great fit because if it fits well, I can focus on the workout, not the clothing.
BYRDIE: Have you ever had any workout mishaps?
CF: You name it, it's probably happened: bras that smash your breasts or push them in all strange directions, tights ripping, shirts falling over my head in yoga… But there are way better options out there for gear (hey, Joylab!). I'm really into matching sets these days.
Danielle Acoff, a Los Angeles–based model and yoga teacher, wasn't always so fit. "Seven years ago, I wouldn't recognize myself," she says. "I became conscious of what I was eating. I started listening to my body and putting my health first, and that has made all the difference." While her exercise of choice may be yoga, Acoff tells us that dancing is what truly makes her feel the freest. "Sometimes I turn on some music and look in the mirror and just dance. I definitely feel my most beautiful in those moments," she explains.
I used to think my skin was too dark and my hair was too curly, and now these are the things I love most about myself.
BYRDIE: What motivates you to move?
DANIELLE ACOFF: I truly believe that when you look good, you feel good. When I'm in a cute workout outfit, hair tied up and ready to sweat, my workouts reflect how I feel!
BYRDIE: What activewear brands do you wear?
DA: I love wearing the JoyLab collection because the fabric is high quality that you can feel and see. I appreciate the subtle designs and how fashionable they are; you can wear them for errands, brunch, class—truly all day.
BYRDIE: How do you feel after working out?
DA: I'm on a high after working out! There's something about knowing you are taking care of yourself and your health that makes you feel proud and accomplished.
BYRDIE: Have you always been so comfortable with your body?
DA: No, not all! I began to become comfortable in my skin with age. It's been a long road to self-love—I used to think my skin was too dark and my hair was too curly, and now these are the things I love most about myself.
Chelsea Miller, a fitness junkie, and body-positivity advocate, has talked to us many times about the importance of having a healthy relationship with our bodies. And as a plus-size model, Miller says the journey to self-love hasn't always been an easy one.
"For far too long, I focused on the way [my body] looked, and I did everything I could to change it and make it more beautiful, which ultimately just meant to be thin," she recalls. "For so long, I hurt my body and expected for it to reward me with thinness."
Now Miller celebrates her curvy figure instead of trying to change it, and—even better—she's helping other women do the same. She documents her exercise journey on social media and shares encouraging advice on a daily basis.
I find beauty in every lump and bump on my body—in my stretch marks, in my cellulite, in my muscles, and in every curve.
BYRDIE: How did you change your perspective on your body?
CHELSEA MILLER: It took a lot of work to get where I am today, and I still have moments of not being comfortable in my skin. I am certainly more comfortable now than I have ever been in my life. I think that came in part with age but also in just practicing self-love. It's a mindset: I had to change mine, but I've never been happier since starting my self-love journey.
BYRDIE: And how is your relationship with your body now?
CM: I've grown to appreciate my body for what it is and what it does for me instead of being upset that it doesn't look the way I wanted it to. Now I see things entirely differently. I do things that are good for my body, and I hope that I provide the fuel and the nutrients to help my body be the strongest and healthiest it can possibly be.
BYRDIE: What makes you feel beautiful?
CM: I feel like there is so much more to beauty than just outward appearances. I feel beautiful when I'm eating well when I have my favorite people around me, and when I'm happy.
BYRDIE: What do you consider when buying workout gear?
CM: I've purchased high-end activewear only to find out that the fabrics were completely see-through upon bending over. So everyone got a show throughout my entire workout—great! So far, every single pair of JoyLab pants I've had the pleasure of wearing has passed the bending-over test.
BYRDIE: How do you celebrate your body?
CM: I do things that are good for my body, and I provide it with the fuel and the nutrients to help it be the strongest and healthiest it can possibly be. I find beauty in every lump and bump on my body—in my stretch marks, in my cellulite, in my muscles, and in every curve.
Want to feel confident during your next workout? Shop JoyLab's full line of stylish activewear.