When we look for body positive inspirations, we rarely look at the media, especially since we seem to be bombarded with the same kind of look when we turn on the television or open a magazine, that we often forget that body types are diverse and all beautiful in their own unique ways.

But falling through the cracks there have been movies that promoted a healthy body image, one that shows that you are amazing, despite what society might tell you. We have listed five of our favourite body positive movies that have inspired us:

1. Real Women Have Curves

Real Women Have Curves tells the story of Ana (America Ferrara) a Latina woman in Los Angeles, who attempts to find her way in an America that is not always welcoming, trying to get into college, while still fighting the future that her domineering mother wants for her and learning to embrace her true self.

There is a poignant scene in the film where all the women that work in Ana’s family’s clothing factory get exhausted from the heat and Ana’s mother Carmen critiquing their bodies that they strip down to their underwear and compare their different body shapes, stretch marks and cellulite, and inspire each other to have confidence in their bodies. It is a powerful scene that does a lot to encourage women that they are special and beautiful, no matter their size or shape.

2. Muriel’s Wedding

The iconic Australian film, Muriel’s Wedding introduces us to Muriel (Toni Collette) a chubby, socially awkward ‘ugly duckling’ who is big fan of the music of ABBA and daydreams about a glamorous wedding to get out of her small seaside Australian town. Muriel is a misfit, who is often ridiculed by her former friends which prompts her to make friends with another former outcast, Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths).

The film takes Muriel on a series of adventures from committing fraud to moving to Sydney to Rhonda’s illness to a sham marriage, but in the end she learns through the hard lessons of her mother’s life that her choices have consequences. Muriel learns to stand up to her domineering father, to believe that she deserves happiness and to honour the people that were there for her. It is inspiring that despite the fact that Muriel is not your typical heroine, you want her to realise her worth; you want her to triumph in the end. It is not only the traditionally beautiful women who deserve a happy ending.

3. Hairspray

The musical extravaganza that has been a force on stage and in cinemas (with the 2007 version) tells the story of Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) in 1960s Baltimore, USA. Tracy loves dancing and she wins a spot on the popular show ‘The Corny Collins Show’. Overnight Tracy becomes a trendsetter on the show, as well as upsetting the perfect blonde Queen Bee, bagging the hottest guy, and bringing racial integration onto the show in a time when it was not welcome. Tracy, who was often overlooked because she is heavyset, breaks through boundaries and becomes an icon, and does not for one second let her size hold her back from what she truly wants – even though she is ridiculed or is told to sit down – she stands up for what she wants and what she believes is right.

4. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

Four best friends – Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Carmen (America Ferrara), Bridget (Blake Lively) and Lena (Alexis Bledel) – are about to separate for the summer for the first time ever and just before they are about to separate they go shopping. They find an ordinary pair of jeans which seems to fit each of them perfectly and flatter their figures despite the fact that they are all different sizes and they make a pact to share the jeans equally over the summer.

This film (and the book series that it is based on) tells many stories of love, loss, pain, friendship and how each girl despite their own challenges grow up and learn individual lessons throughout the course of the film. The jeans are almost a prop, a reminder that size doesn’t matter, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this one-size-fits-all magic charm is sometimes just what they need to be their best selves.

5. Center Stage

The most famous ballet movie (don’t fight me on this), Center Stage has almost reached classic status by how much it is loved by fans. It tells the story of a diverse group of ballet students at the fictitious American Ballet Academy. They all deal with the pressure of the sport in different ways and struggle with not fitting into the norm of how a ballet dancer should look and act.

One of the stories that are told is that of Maureen (Susan May Pratt) who despite being the star ballet dancer of the school is struggling with bulimia and her need to be the best even though her passion for ballet has wavered. And then there is Jody (Amanda Schull) has a passion for ballet but also has body issues and an undeveloped turn out which means she does not progress at the speed of the rest of the class. The film explores how two different women with two different body types approach the demanding world of ballet and makes it their own, showing that your size does not necessarily determine your skill or your passion.

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