Cool Girls with Tag: body positivity

Leah Stanley

Name: Leah Stanley
Age: 30
Location: Upstate New York
Occupation: Social Media Specialist

Leah Stanley is a small-town girl from Vermont who has conquered the Internet with her message of self-love and fierce fashion. As a child, she was taunted for being “fat,” but took the body-shaming bullies to task by maturing into a gorgeous, bubbly, contagiously confident influencer for people of all shapes and sizes.

“I knew that growing up I didn’t really have any role models like myself to look up to,” she says. “I didn’t really know that much about plus-size fashion and where to find it, or that fashion rules don’t exist! A larger space means a louder and bigger voice, creating a bigger impact. I really just want to reach as many people as I can. I love being able to spread a positive message.”

Back in 2014, a friend mentioned to her that she might have fun on Instagram. Although it took her two years to start her personal blogging and photographic adventure, she remembers how it began.

“She was always on Insta, and mentioned something about how I would most likely also enjoy the app,” Leah recalls. “I eventually created a personal Insta, which I loved. My friend was totally right. It was through my personal Insta, years later, that I had discovered a plus-size fashionista, and I said to myself, ‘Hey, that could be me.’ Shortly after I started up @Voluptuousleah and here we are!”

With her fashion advice and inspiration, she quickly found an audience.

“I started just by starting my Instagram and sharing my daily outfits. It’s always helpful to see another person’s outfits on the daily, to see how they style pieces differently than you or I,” she says.

One of the seminal moments occurred during winter storm Stella in 2017, when Leah boldly flaunted a bikini…in a blizzard. With her tenacious, visually stunning, and often hilarious posts, Leah blended beauty and brains with a keen knack for what to wear, regardless of size. That’s not to say that she didn’t encounter online trolls, or perplexed family members who didn’t understand what the point was of an online presence. That said, nothing is stopping her.

Leah continues to challenge herself to step outside of her style comfort zone, and to dream big. One day she hopes to possibly design Voluptuousleah swimwear, or simply to manage social media for a business. “That’s currently part of my day job, so we’ll see where it leads me!” she says.

And what message does this motivated model and inspiring Instagram influencer have for other fledgling fashionistas and fierce females out there?

“Always be yourself, let your personality shine and to love yourself. Most importantly, I also like to remind that there are so many people in the world working against us, that’s okay. Turn their negativity into energy you can use to fuel your growth and strength,” Leah says. “We cannot ever control what people say to us, but we can control the way we react.”

For her message of body positivity, self-love, and for being a role-model of motivation, we think that Leah Stanley is a very Cool Girl!

Keep in touch with Leah by following her on Instagram @Voluptuousleah.

We made a $200 donation to Planned Parenthood on behalf of Leah. We encourage you to make a donation too!

Megan Jayne Crabbe is Back!

Name: Megan Jayne Crabbe
Age: 26
Location: Essex, UK
Occupation: Author, influencer and advocate for body positivity and mental health awareness

A few years ago, we profiled Megan Jayne Crabbe, aka bodyposipanda, and gave her serious kudos for all of her body positive social media love. Today, we asked Megan to be our first ever repeat Cool Girl in honor of National Self-Confidence Day on March 26th.

In the time following our initial interview, Megan Jayne Crabbe has become a blogger at The Unedit, been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, and has written a book, Body Positive Power. Still, with a larger platform and the label of being an Instagram influencer, she remains the same down-to-earth, accessible, utterly lovable human being.

“I’m still living a bit of a double life between being an influencer and also remaining a caregiver for my older sister Gemma. I’m definitely still just as much of a dog lady and I’m still dancing around in my underwear on the internet!” she says.

The immediacy and transparency of living life online hasn’t always been easy, however.

“A lot of my personal growth over the last couple of years has come from adjusting to the highs and lows of existing on the internet,” Megan admits. “I’ve always said that as someone who struggles with anxiety and self-doubt in the ways I do, I’m not really made for this world. A lot of putting yourself out there online is dealing with hundreds of people every day telling you who they think you are – good or bad – and it’s super hard not to lose your own sense of who you are in that. I’m definitely better at keeping hold of that now and trusting that I know who I am better than strangers on social media do, but it’s been a real journey!”

Over the course of nine months, Megan wrestled with aforementioned anxiety, and many pots of coffee, in order to create Body Positive Power, her new book that is largely an inspirational autobiography.

“I was just trying to pass along the things I’d learned in my own body acceptance, with a bit of sass and a lot of straight talk about diet culture. I’m so thankful people have connected with it the way they have and used it to start reclaiming their body and a life that isn’t filled with hunger and self-hatred,” she says.

The healing power of the writing process, as well as the perks of her personality being at the forefront of the mainstream body positivity movement, has led to a lot of transformation.

“I’m never done learning. There are always ways to be a better advocate, make my message more pure, and hold myself accountable for that. But there also has to be a lot of room for self-forgiveness when you don’t get it right, which is often,” she says.

When it comes to navigating the often cruel ocean of social media, Megan has a bevy of sage, hard-learned advice.

“I think it’s on each of us to treat the people on our timelines as full human beings. So much of what makes social media toxic is that it enables us to put people into one-dimensional boxes of who we want them to be. In reality, we’re all more than our social media, we have more going in our lives, we make mistakes, we screw up, we learn. We have to allow the people we follow to be human. And when it comes to the straight up trolls who just want to spread hate – block on sight, they’re not worthy of your time or energy,” Megan says.

“Also, the same as always, what you see everyday has a huge effect on how you see yourself. We should all be regularly curating our social media feeds to be full of inspiration rather than negative comparison. We should be conscious of what we’re reading and what we’re watching, we deserve to feel represented in the media we consume and we don’t need anything in our lives convincing us that our bodies are wrong. Follow a diverse range of humans online, watch shows with casts of strong characters whose differences are celebrated, throw out the photoshopped magazine covers. Curate what you consume as much as you can so that the messaging you’re getting is that you’re good enough as you are,” she adds.

As for the average young woman, Megan empowers everyone to ditch the self-hate.

“We are all affected by diet culture, fatphobia and beauty ideals in some way, and we deserve to have our feelings recognized and understood. Find the people who will fight back with you, whether they’re in real life, online, on podcasts or even in books! You really aren’t alone in this.”

And what advice does the passionate and compassionate new author have to pass along to each of us in honor of National Self-Confidence Day?

“When I was learning about why we hate our bodies and where that comes from, I realized that it is so much bigger than you or me. Our cultural body dissatisfaction is something that we’ve been taught since we were children, by thousands of messages we take in every day about beauty, weight and worth.

We didn’t ask to live in a world that values how we look over who we are. And it’s not our fault that we feel the way we do. Once you really believe that you can let go of the blame you’re holding against your body and get angry at the real culprit: diet culture! Unrealistic beauty standards! Patriarchy! I think self confidence ultimately is about refusing to see yourself as anything less than what you’re worth, which is the absolute world.”

For her constant body positivity, and being a light for everyone who is yearning to grow in self-love and acceptance, we think Megan Jayne Crabbe is a very Cool Girl! Check out Body Positive Power and Megan’s advice column, as well as her Instagram and website.

Megan Jayne Crabbe

2016-12-coolgirl-meganjaynecrabbe-headshotName: Megan Jayne Crabbe
Age: 23
Location: Essex, UK
Occupation: I’m a carer for my older sister who has cerebral palsy.

Megan Crabbe, also known as the Instagram sensation @bodiposipanda, is a champion for women learning how to love themselves from the inside out. This English rose is no fragile flower, having spent two years in and out of inpatient units as a teenager battling anorexia nervosa.

“I was so entranced by the glamour and beauty of the female celebrities I saw in the media, and unfortunately that meant I internalised a lot of unrealistic body standards young. No matter what I was going to be when I grew up, I knew I had to be beautiful, and beautiful always meant thin. My 5 year old puppy fat already seemed wrong, ugly, nothing like what I saw in magazines and on my TV screen. And that’s when the dieting, and body obsession started.”2016-12-coolgirl-meganjaynecrabbe-beforeafter

Through her struggle with anorexia, Megan found a fierce, deep love of herself and a passionate animosity for the disorder that robbed her of time, nourishment, intimacy, and identity. Even though the road was rocky, she triumphed over crash diets and hatred of her body to find the recovery she was yearning for. “It wasn’t until I found body positivity at 21 that I truly recovered mentally,” she explains.

It was through the platform of Instagram and the hashtag “bopo” (aka, body positivity) that Megan discovered that there was truly an alternative to self-hate. She found the profile of a woman in Kentucky named Melissa, @yourstruelymelly, and the whole world of bopo opened up to her.

2016-12-coolgirl-meganjaynecrabbe-sitstand“I followed all the inspiring accounts I could find, got involved in the community, read feminist literature about the diet industry and oppressive beauty standards, and I realised that I had to spread the word. That’s why I started @bodyposipanda, to let as many people as possible know that they don’t have to spend their lives at war with their bodies either. I am so grateful to be able to spread the bopo message,” Megan says.

And her vivacious personality and relentless honesty allowed her to garner thousands upon thousands of followers, even becoming an internet celebrity. So what’s it like in the spotlight?

2016-12-coolgirl-meganjaynecrabbe-fulldress“People assume that because of Instagram I live a super glamorous life, but really nothing has changed. I still spend most of the day talking to my dogs and refusing to put a bra on. I’m a carer for my older sister so I spend a lot of time with her, and write blog posts and Instagram posts in my free time,” she explains.

When she’s not blogging or being there for her sister and her three dogs, she’s putting her energy toward the future of body positivity, mulling over starting a YouTube channel and bopo projects the world over. “I always joke about a body positive world takeover, but truly that’s what we need….the more self love the better.”

Reaching out beyond the profile, Megan hopes she can help foster healthy, self-loving practices for young girls who are bombarded by an unattainable and false idea of physical perfection.

“The message I most want young girls to know is that their purpose in life isn’t to look like a photoshopped magazine cover or their favourite celebrity,” Megan emphasizes. “They have so much more to offer the world than contoured cheekbones, thigh gaps or perfect abs. We are more than bodies. We are more than how we look. And the biggest industries in the world profit from making us think otherwise, and teaching us that we’re flawed so that they can sell us the solution. Don’t buy it. You have so much to offer the world, and you are good enough exactly as you are.”

You can see Megan in bopo warrior action on Instagram.

For helping all of us to love ourselves no matter what we look like, we think Megan Jayne Crabbe is a really Cool Girl!