Once upon a time, you couldn’t walk past a newsstand without seeing photos of celebrities in swimsuits—bumps and scars and all, because they’re human—trying to live their life and getting body-shamed for it. But times have changed, and models and actresses alike are now leading the charge to normalize cellulite, stretch marks, and other so-called flaws. It couldn’t have come soon enough.
The body positivity movement has spurred a lot of great things, but one of the best has been the embrace of cellulite. Instead of being considered something to mask or get rid of with expensive (often questionable) creams, cellulite is being seen for what it is: normal. (According to recent stats, 93 percent of women have it—regardless of their shape or size.) And celebrities, instead of waiting for the paparazzi to snap and sell photos, are posting pics of their own dimpled legs on social media to rewrite the narrative. Here are a few of the women who are speaking out.
The model and body-positivity advocate has long been a champion of embracing your body as it is—bumps and all—an attitude she credits her mom for instilling in her. “I remember telling my mom, ‘Isn’t it disgusting? It’s so ugly.’ She pulled her pants down and said, ‘Look, I have it too.’ And I was like, ‘Gasp!'” Graham shared in a recent issue of V Magazine. “She looked at me, then at it, and just rolled her eyes. She didn’t tell me that it’s beautiful or ugly. She just made it a nonissue. It doesn’t define my worth.”
The singer has been promoting body positivity for years, and she’s always down to set an example. “Cellulite and yet I still love myself,” she captioned a Boomerang posted to Instagram Stories, drawing an arrow from the statement to her bare thighs. Though the bumps aren’t quite visible in the Boomerang, she quickly cleared things up. “The Boomerang smoothed out my legs,” she wrote. “The point is, I have cellulite just like the other 93% of women do. What you see on Instagram isn’t always what it seems to be. Let’s embrace our real selves.”
“I’m a size 16. And I’m here to say this is what confidence looks like and it’s beautiful. Why are we so worried if, God forbid, we have a roll, cellulite, or stretch marks?” the Sports Illustrated veteran (who broke barriers as the magazine’s curviest-ever model) told Glamour.com in a recent interview. “These are normal, human things that everybody has. My fiancé has them, and he’s a man. Everybody has them. I just don’t understand because society tells us they are our flaws.”
Style blogger and body-positivity activist Gabi Gregg—a.k.a. GabiFresh—posted an Instagram video to point out how something as simple as lighting can make a difference in what you see in images. “Reminder that cellulite is normal and nothing to be ashamed of (and also depends on lighting! You can literally see mine “disappear” as I walk out of a shadow here).”
The model—who’s starred in unretouched ads for Aerie—delivered a powerful TED talk on self-love in 2017, where she opened up about the problems with digitally altered images. Here’s just a snippet: “I had to forgive myself for the times I saw retouched pictures of myself with slimmer arms, a thigh gap, unachievably smooth skin, with no cellulite or back fat, and thought that’s how I should look in real life. I now know that just because people decided to alter my appearance to look ‘perfected,’ it doesn’t make me any less beautiful in the real world—where I can’t walk around airbrushed.”
Duff kept it real when she posted a photo of herself on a beach, featuring her son and a very cute swimsuit. Her caption made her stance on her body clear: “Since websites and magazines love to share ‘celeb flaws’—well I have them! My body has given me the greatest gift of my life: Luca, 5 years ago. I’m turning 30 in September and my body is healthy and gets me where I need to go. Ladies, lets be proud of what we’ve got and stop wasting precious time in the day wishing we were different, better, and unflawed. You guys (you know who you are!) already know how to ruin a good time, and now you are body shamers as well. #kissmyass.”
Do not come for Kelly Rowland, because she won’t have it. “I used to be very self-conscious about the cellulite and stretch marks on my butt,” she said in a 2017 interview with Shape. “When I was overseas, a picture came out showing my imperfections and someone tried to body-shame me. That moment made me embrace my derrière.” So she posted the picture in question to Instagram with the caption: “B!T@H BE HUMBLE” -@KendrickLamar”
Dunham was proud of Glamour‘s February 2017 cover, which featured unretouched photos of the Girls cast. She wrote in an Instagram post: “Thank you to the women in Hollywood (and on Instagram!) leading the way, inspiring and normalizing the female form in EVERY form, and thank you to @glamourmag for letting my cellulite do the damn thing on newsstands everywhere today ❤️ Love you all.”
The Good Place star has been a staunch advocate of body positivity—so much so, she even started an Instagram feed called @i_weigh that encourages women to measure their talents and values, not their weight. “Would you tell your friend that she would be funnier, smarter, or a better person if she were more toned? Would you tell her she didn’t deserve love or happiness because she had cellulite or some wrinkles?” she wrote in an essay for Glamour. “Would you tell her it didn’t matter how much she had achieved because she didn’t have a thigh gap and that she is a failure in life and a waste of space for not looking like a doll? Then why do you say it to yourself?”
In a 2017 interview, Jackson went into detail about her effort to embrace herself despite the strict (and, frankly, unrealistic) standards of beauty in the fashion industry. “I’m not symmetrical, I’m not a size zero, I eat hella burgers and endless amounts of pizza. I can’t fit into a runway sample size of designer clothes, I have scars and stretch marks and acne and I have cellulite,” she explained. “I’m human. Not a dress-up doll. The idea that we all have to fit one idea of beauty is outrageous and ridiculous because ‘perfection’ is just an opinion.”
Singer Jessie J recently posted a gorgeous photo of herself in a bathing suit, looking out into the ocean on Instagram—and she preemptively called out anyone who might try to body shame her in the caption. “Took ages to hairspray my hair like that,” she wrote. “My shadow is my mood 🥴 oh and for those telling me I have cellulite. I know. I own a mirror. 👍🏻” Her comments section soon filled with supportive messages like “I don’t see cellulite. I see BEAUTY and BRAVERY and CONFIDENCE❤️” and “Nothing wrong with you at all.”