7 Black Celebrities, Authors, and Athletes Who Are Shaping Our Conversations About Bodies

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NEDA Staff

The beginning of February also marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to remember pivotal events and people that helped shape the Black community. The countless accomplishments of the community would not have been possible without the unwavering efforts of many persistent and courageous individuals. Here are some examples of Black community members who are continuing to work towards making the world a more equal place through their words of hope and positivity.

Amber Riley

“So I want to let women of all sizes out there know, you can do whatever you put your mind to. It doesn’t matter what size you are, what color you are, you can do whatever, whatever, whatever you put your mind to.”

Since starring in the TV show Glee, Riley has dealt with hateful messages as well as her own insecurities. However, she never let these things prevent her from following her passion for performing and now uses her position to advocate for body positivity. 

Serena Williams

“You can be whatever size you are, and you can be beautiful both inside and out.”

Serena Williams shows how even the most acclaimed athletes can be victims of body negative messages. However, she never lets messages criticizing her athletic physique get her down and uses her position to spread hopeful messages, most notably in her letter to her mother.

Gabourey Sibide

“Your body is your temple and you must decorate it as such.”

Sibide is known for her iconic roles in movies as well her as iconic role as a body positivity activist. She frequently speaks out about ignoring the hurtful messages of haters and embracing one’s own body. 

Prince Fielder

“Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack.”

While Fielder is most known for the accomplishments he makes on the baseball field, a 2014 magazine cover showed a different side of him. After posing for the ESPN Body Issue cover, he received criticism that his body did not align with traditional standards for an athlete. He used this prime opportunity to discuss how athletes’ bodies, like all bodies, come in different shapes and sizes. 

Laverne Cox

“My beauty is not about how I look. My beauty is about my heart and soul.” 

When Cox is not starring in the Netflix original Orange is the New Black, she speaks openly about body positivity and self-acceptance. As a Black trans woman, she focuses specifically about the importance of taking ownership of one’s own body and embracing what makes individuals unique.

Danielle Brooks

“I go by my own standards, and I will be the voice of the curves for the women that feel like they can’t stand up for themselves.”

Brooks is another Orange is the New Black star using her position of power to advocate for body acceptance. She frequently discusses the difficulty she has faced in her industry because of her size but how she never lets it get in the way of her loving her natural self. 

Roxane Gay

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.”

This New York Times best-selling author shares her own experiences with race, body image and feminism. Her newest book, Hunger, focuses specifically on her struggles with food and self love but how she ultimately found comfort in her own body. 

Header image via nappy.co