I have a confession to make. When I hit puberty, suddenly becoming all too aware of my body as others started commenting on it, I began feeling somewhat uncomfortable in my own skin — a feeling that's still lingering over a decade later. Going from someone who was deemed "too skinny" to someone who "would look prettier" if I lost a bit of weight was very difficult to deal with, and I would lie if I said it hadn't taken its toll on my mental health.
Now in my late 20s, I am still learning to accept my body for what it is. Working in fashion, there are days when I feel more confident than others, Summer being a particularly difficult time. While I love going on vacation, the idea of wearing a swimsuit in front of other people — my boyfriend of five years included — always fills me with dread. As a result, I generally end up spending more time worrying about my lumps, bumps, stretch marks, and tummy rolls, which keeps me from fully enjoying the moment.
This year, however, things have been slightly different. Among all the beautiful imagery that has been taking over my Instagram feed, a few incredibly empowering ladies have been trying to change the way we talk about and see women's bodies, one powerful bikinigram at a time. With their use of hashtags like #celluLIT and captions reminding me that every body is a beach body, they have inspired me to just wear my new favorite bikini trends and stop caring so much about what others might think. The result? A much, much more enjoyable Summer.
Sure, I might not look like what is widely portrayed in the media, but I love my body for what it is, lumps, bumps, stretch marks, tummy rolls, and all. While I still have a few miles to go before I cross the finish line on this self-love journey, the following photographs have been like my own personal cheerleaders, and now they can also be yours. From Padma Lakshmi and Iskra Lawrence looking sexier than ever in bikinis to Bebe Rexha and Demi Lovato giving us all a lesson in self-care and how to pose in front of the camera, read on for the most empowering bikingrams of the year so far.