Body positivity campaigns have been on the rise in recent years, with more and more people proudly celebrating their bodies at every shape, size, ethnicity and gender (or not). While these movements have had tremendous impact on society and encourage us to embrace our uniqueness, a new group of activists are taking a stand to combat social stigmas rarely addressed in the media. The women in Huff Post‘s new Docu-series New Activists – a series of 5-10 minute short films which started last Monday and air daily at 4pm for ten weeks – are all taking steps to promote body positivity in more complex forms, from transgender acceptance to what it is really like to live with a disability.
One of the first activists we meet in the series is the new face of Illamasqua — transgender model Munroe Bergdorf. Immediately after seeing the promotional video, it’s hard to not immediately fall for her positive, girl-boss personality. There’s no denying Bergdorf is passionate about her beliefs and is determined to make her voice heard, specifically about racial inequalities.
The 31 year old, Essex native made headlines earlier this year when she scored a huge deal with L’Oreal Paris to be a model in their ‘True Match Foundation’ line. This deal was huge not only for Bergdorf, but for the entire Transgender community as she was the first transgender model to be featured in a L’Oreal campaign.
Shortly after the campaign, Bergdorf’s contract was abruptly cut off with L’Oreal after a controversial post from her personal Facebook account about her reaction to the Charlottesville attacks was sold to the media. She explains more about her story, here.
While her modeling career at L’Oreal was short-lived, Bergdorf didn’t let that slow her down. She was almost immediately signed to model for the U.K. makeup brand, Illamasqua. Bergdorf has created her own lip colors and has been featured in various ads for the company. While Bergdorf’s vocal Facebook post originally caused her to lose her campaign, it has opened up numerous doors to opportunities which she has taken advantage of in order to further promote her campaign.
I’m rethinking about how I go about my activism and how I speak to a wider audience in a way that everybody can understand.
Bergdorf will show throughout the series how she is continuously aiming to shed light on racial injustices she feels are still imminent today.
Charlie Craggs is a transgender activist, and founder of her own campaign called ‘Nail Transphobia.’The campaign strives to educate people on the transgender community. Most people have not had a conversation with a transgender person, so Craggs’ is looking to change this. Craggs was bullied as a child, which she uses as motivation in educating other’s.
Originally, from West London, Craggs travels all around the U.K. and sets up her pop-up nail salon to offer people free manicures. Sounds a little too good to be true, but Craggs’ campaign goes beyond just painting people’s nails for free.
Manicurists don’t typically provide clients with an eye-opening experience during their 30-minute color change. Many people don’t even converse with their manicurist, as nail appointments are usually for relaxation rather than socialization. In a promotional video for New Activists, Craggs very candidly explained how “[she] wants people to go away with an ally.”
The slogan Craggs created for her campaign effectively captures this goal. Craggs notes her campaign “is about changing hearts and minds and a nail at a time.”
Craggs has been named one of the most influential LBGTQ people in the U.K. by top publications, The Guardian and The Independent. Cargos’ success with ‘Nail Transphobia’ has given people the chance to have a conversation with someone within the transgender community,while building one on one lasting connections.
Samantha Renke is a disability activist from Lancashire, who is determined to disband all preconceived notions people have when they meet someone with a disability. Through her work, she is hoping to completely change the attitude people have towards others with disabilities.
Born with a rare genetic disorder, Renke has spent most of her 31 years in a wheel chair to avoid the risk of breaking her bones. Despite the limitations of her condition, Renke is still completely independent and does not let her disability hold her back from making an impact.
Renke actively supports various disability campaigns, such as SCOPE. SCOPE is a U.K.-based charity that aims towards helping people with a variety of disabilities find employment, educational services and appropriate living conditions. Renke is a big advocate for helping those with disabilities find accessible homes to meet their specific needs.
The topic and treatment of disabilities is a lot less commonly discussed in the mainstream media. Renke is doing all she can to raise awareness and especially to speak more openly about the ways in which people can offend a person with disability without realizing it. Renke explained in a recent promo video, how “[she] hates how people see disabled people as an inspiration.”
I hate how people see disabled people as an inspiration
Renke does not let her disability keep her from living a relatively normal life, and does not want people treating her like she’s different. Her infectious laugh drew me in and I am looking forward to the upcoming installments where viewers will learn more about her day-to-day struggles, and how she uses these to expand the scope her activism.
Trying on swimsuits is usually a pretty unappealing task, as different brands have different sizing, different styles look best on specific body types and so on. It’s basically a big jigsaw puzzle that we, as consumers, try and figure out. Big retailers tailor towards a specific model and limit their size range, which completely disregards the sizes of real women.
Sonny Turner had enough of this tricky task this past summer, when she came on full blast on her Instagram to call out the unrealistic sizing of many high street swimsuit brands.
The Birmingham native’s post garnered an immense amount of attention, with over 25,000 likes and numerous mentions in online articles. Turner is also a plus-sized model, and uses her profession to further encourage the empowerment of women of all shapes and sizes.
At just 19-years old, Turner is determined to make a lasting impression, and help prevent girls in future generations from ever feeling as though they do not embody the qualities of the media’s perception of a ‘true woman.’ Turner’s efforts, along with the other women in the series have made lasting impacts that you won’t want to miss hearing more about.
Each episode is only 5 minutes long, so go ahead and binge watch on your lunch break.
Tune into Huffington Post U.K. weekdays at 4 p.m. for the next 10 weeks to hear more about each activist’s story.