It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Hulu’s new show, Shrill, ended up on this list. Based off writer Lindy West’s memoir, the show revolves around Annie Easton, a fat woman who becomes increasingly frustrated with her life and the way people treat her. At the beginning of the show, Annie is pretty much resigned to her fate — she grudgingly follows her mother’s strict (and unsatisfying) weight loss diets, lets her fatphobic boss walk all over her, and continues sleeping with a guy who makes her sneak out his window so his roommates won’t know about her — but soon starts to realize that she that she deserves way more than what she accepts from people. And not just that she deserves better, but that she’s going to do what she can to make sure that she gets better things for herself.
Shrill is a reminder that even if everyone has an opinion about you and your body, none of them matter as much as your own. Annie’s insecurities allow people to walk all over her, but as soon as she decides she’s not going to allow that anymore, she’s able to finally take control of her life. She learns to stand up for herself even when she feels completely alone and learns to dance like nobody’s watching, and through that, she finally realizes that she has the power to love herself and her body. And that, my friends, is a lesson we should all be able to take away from it.
The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project is one of the first TV shows I ever watched that made me sit back and wonder why I never treated my body like the spectacle it is. It’s so easy to look into a mirror and criticize yourself, but what if you just… didn’t? What if you only let yourself wink and smile and say nice things? What if you admired your body for once?
Mindy Kaling’s character is so confident and self-loving, even when the people around her are trying to turn her into the butt of the joke. It would be so easy for Mindy to fall into a spiral of insecurities or accept the things people say about her, but she rarely does — she maintains that she is attractive and worthy of being treated as such. Sure, Mindy isn’t perfect (what interesting character ever is?), but she’s a great role model for anyone who’s been told they don’t fit into society’s extremely narrow guidelines of “conventional” beauty. We all deserve to recognize our own attractiveness with the same zeal that Mindy does. We deserve to unapologetically call ourselves “hot” and flirt with ourselves in the mirror. Some may call it “narcissism,” but I just call it self-love.
Netflix’s new original show is nothing if not accepting. Based off Ryan O’Connell’s memoir, it follows his life as a gay man with cerebral palsy who’s still in the closet about his disability. Ryan is obviously insecure about his limp and his difficulty with fine motor skills, to the point that he struggles maintaining relationships and is left romantically stunted. Through the course of eight 15-minute episodes, though, we get the opportunity to watch him blossom and come into himself.
Between Ryan and coworker Kim Laghari, a curvy woman of color, we get plenty of lessons about self-acceptance and self-confidence. Kim is a sassy, confident blogger who writes hit after hit about loving and accepting her body, though she admits to Ryan that she sometimes feels like she has to go the extra mile because of how she looks. Ryan, on the other hand, begins to realize that just because he sees himself in a certain way doesn’t mean that others do, and that his disability isn’t quite the deal breaker he always thought it was. In the end, Special is all about accepting ourselves for what we are and loving ourselves not in spite of it, but because of it.
When you watch a show called “Insecure,” you know you’re going to walk away with something powerful. The HBO show revolves around the black female experience (expertly portrayed by Issa Rae), which, for Issa’s friend Kelli, also includes being a plus-size woman.
Kelli is outspoken, bold, and unashamed of her own sexuality — something that’s rare for fat characters in the media unless it’s meant to be a running joke, as we’ve seen in movies like Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect. Kelli knows she’s funny, intelligent, and a straight-up gem, and she doesn’t need anyone to tell her that. She loves her body for what it is and doesn’t feel the need to hide it. Honestly, if I’d had a friend like this growing up, I probably would have learned to love my curves for what they were long before I actually did. But Kelli taught me that I should be this friend, that I should set the example for other women who are just looking for acceptance — because at the end of the day, the most important kind of acceptance comes from within.
You’re The Worst
I never thought this anti-rom com would have anything particularly inspirational in it… and I was pretty much right. As much as I love the show, it isn’t about to tell you that you have to start with loving yourself first or that the key to happiness has been inside you all along. But hey, that doesn’t mean you can’t glean your own messages from of it nonetheless.
I personally found one of my body positivity icons in sidekick Lindsay, who starts out as a jaded housewife willing to do anything to fit in with her thin, glamorous neighbors, but when she stops focusing all of her attention on a lifestyle that makes her miserable, she finds things that make her happy. Turns out, that doesn’t mean losing a ton of weight. She stops going on fad diets (and wiring her jaw shut) and starts accepting her body for what it is. But perhaps my favorite thing about Lindsay is how she always oozes pure sexuality, easily racking up the highest body count (not due to insecurity, but because she wants to) and maintaining, till the very end, that she is the “hot friend.” And let’s face it, there’s little doubt that she probably is. Lindsay is a pretty good reminder that we glow from the inside out — because when you feel good about yourself and let yourself shine, others won’t be able to ignore it.
Let’s be real — you can’t expect me to write an article about TV shows telling you to love yourself without adding Queer Eye to it. This unscripted reality show is literally about transforming people, not only on the outside, but on the inside. I’ll never forget that first episode, when nominee Tom said, “You can’t fix ugly,” and, deep down, his words resonated with me. I, too, had felt this way before. But what really struck me was how the Fab Five balked at him — not because they were offended that he thought they couldn’t fix him, but because they couldn’t believe he saw himself as ugly in the first place.
I think that’s where the magic of Queer Eye lies. It doesn’t shame (or, when it does, it generally comes from a good place). It’s not about changing yourself so much as highlighting all the good things that are already there and giving them the attention they deserve. Watching the nominees slowly learn to love themselves for who they are will make you take a good, long look at yourself and the way you treat yourself. At the end of the day, it’s the love that we put into ourselves that really makes the difference — oh, yeah, and also the French tuck.
One thing I’ve always adored about this show is how real it is about womanhood. It doesn’t even try to pretend that we wake up looking flawless or that we walk around looking like models all the time. In fact, the pilot made this clear in “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” in which the main character, Rebecca Bunch, spends a few painful hours prepping for her date in an attempt to look how she believes she’s supposed to (only for late rapper Nipsey Hussle to apologize to all the women he knows after examining the scene in pure horror).
But as the show progresses, Rebecca seems to care less and less about society’s expectations of her. If she doesn’t feel like shaving, she doesn’t bother. If she wants to wear a racy dress, she’ll wear it. She doesn’t pressure herself to look any certain way and calls out anyone who tries to. There’s something so empowering about watching a woman just exist without constantly worrying about her weight or what she’s wearing or what the world thinks of her at any given moment. Sure, Rebecca may have a bit of a boy problem, but at the end of the day, she doesn’t let that change who she is.
Ilana and Abbi are best friends who don’t give a fuck about what anyone has to say — and god, is that refreshing. They do what they want, say what they want, and wear what they want without a care in the world about what anyone has to say about them. Which made me wonder: why don’t I?
Ilana and Abbi’s general indifference toward other people’s opinions of them isn’t necessarily always targeted toward their bodies, but their life philosophies could definitely be applied to them. We’re allowed to do what we want with our bodies, because at the end of the day, they belong to us and us alone. So honestly, who really cares what anyone else thinks? What’s the point of wasting time worrying about the opinions of people who don’t actually even matter? Abbi and Ilana embrace who they are wholeheartedly, even when there are other versions of themselves that might be a little more socially acceptable. And I don’t know, I think that’s exactly the kind of person I want to be.