The raccoon is you. The cotton candy is 2015, and the puddle of water is the Happy New Year, which came too soon, as usual. I don’t know about you, but I’m mourning the passing of 2015. 2016 has enormous shoes to fill. It was a good year for personal reasons, but also a pivotal point, and dare I say a year of triumph, for a heap of outgroups who in prior years have been deprived the visibility and recognition they deserve. Vogue declared 2015 “The Year of Trans Visibility.” The Daily Dot dubbed it “A Good Year for Body Positivity,” and Bustle identifies 2015 as “The Year the Movement Went Mainstream.” Similarly, 2015 was the first year a movement of women dared to publicly speak up about their abortions.
Reflecting back on last year, 2015 was a year of victory and courage. Those who were outcast to the margins in the past are finally shining in the spotlight. Last year, (some of) the disempowered were empowered. They were seen and heard louder, further and wider than ever. New and more diverse idols have pervaded entertainment. The spike in media appearances of these “other” categories starts the conversation. Social media spreads it.
Friends share stories. Spread ideas. Challenge norms. People who used to be primarily excluded from the conversation are now being exposed to bodies that resemble their own, people who suffer the same abuse, discrimination, exclusion, shame, and pain as they do. People are relating. We’re finally learning to see other people as people. Accepting them. Supporting them.
Not all of us, obviously, but a lot of us. Enough of us to change the context. The same large bodies that were formerly confined to before pictures are suddenly strutting down the runways, landing headlines and magazine covers. Succeeding. Transgender individuals, the former “freaks,” are now being cast as leading roles. Succeeding. The “others” now have an audience who love them.
And although the fight for equal acceptance continues and may never truly end, more and more battles for beauty are being won. More and more people are accepting, opening up and tuning in. These movements are gaining momentum with no sign of slowing down. Who knows how far 2016 might take us. We have the hashtag to thank for this.
The list goes on. Millions of individuals, united under one hashtag. Social media, as much as it distances us, also connects us. It shows us what we have in common. Just look at the progress it’s empowered, and how rapidly it’s spreading. We the people demand more diversity in our media feed, and we got it. Slowly but surely, it’s being supplied. Conventional beauties are making room on the stage for real bodies. Body-positive movements have spiked awareness, inspired acceptance and driven an undeniable societal shift, the very societal shift body-positive-activist Jes Baker predicted.
To me, this progress is validating, because it means my words might actually have some impact on the handful of people that actually read them. People have the power to change, and to be changed, and we have the body positive cause to prove it. So phasing out of body-love’s best year so far, at full speed, and with no sign of slowing down, all I can say is: Bring it, 2016. And make it beautiful.