Leyah Shanks was relentlessly bullied from a young age. This, combined with seeing all the “perfect” images that lined the pages of the magazines she read, caused her to hate herself, her body and feel utterly worthless. Fortunately, a switch flipped and she started to see things and herself differently. Today, the 21 year old Woman You Should Know from Edinburgh, Scotland is leading a revolution to celebrate body diversity and eradicate body shaming. This is The Body Confidence Revolution.
A year and a half ago, Leyah set out on her positive body image mission in an attempt to help other women (and men) who felt like she once did… people of all ages, ethnicities, capabilities, dress sizes and body shapes, who were not comfortable in their own skin.
“I felt like I needed to be several inches shorter, have smaller hips, smaller boobs, blonder hair, smaller sized feet, different coloured hair, green eyes, no stretch marks, tanned skin. Basically, be a different person.”
She told WYSK, “I hated myself and my body for such a long time. I felt like I needed to be several inches shorter, have smaller hips, smaller boobs, blonder hair, smaller sized feet, different coloured hair, green eyes, no stretch marks, tanned skin. Basically, be a different person.” As Leyah got older, her view of things shifted in a more positive direction and she realized, “There actually was nothing wrong with me.”
That life changing epiphany led her to want to create a place online that was all about body positivity; a place where body shaming wouldn’t exist and where celebrating body diversity and reality would be ubiquitous.
With that, in 2013, Leyah launched The Body Confidence Revolution, an inspiring tumblr page filled with countless images of real people from all walks of life who are proud of the skin they are in. She continues to receive new photos each month that add to her growing patchwork of body positive images.
“I think it’s so important to have a place like this online in today’s culture because the web and social media are not often used to say nice things,” Leyah shared with WYSK. As for the rapid growth of The Body Confidence Project, the social good-doer attributes it to her own tenacity and a little bit of luck (she’s had quite a few features in Scottish newspapers and magazines like Cosmopolitan UK).
“A lot of people tell me that I’m inspiring them to think differently about their body and about themselves.”
The real proof of her success is that people are connecting with what Leyah is trying to do and the content she’s showcasing is having a positive influence on the way people see themselves. “I get a lot of comments from people on my social media channels and through emails telling me that what I’m doing is really important to them and even that I’ve lifted their spirits. A lot of people tell me that I’m inspiring them to think differently about their body and about themselves.” She added, “It means so much to me when people reach out to me and tell me that. It keeps me going.”
Leyah says every image people send in to her is inspiring because, “Everyone has their own story when it comes to their body and each one is unique.” She gushed, “It makes me so happy when people actually want to be a part of The Body Confidence Revolution and are willing to show their body to the world in a proud and confident manner.”
As for the future of The Body Confidence Project, Leyah explains, “I’d like to take what I’m doing into Primary, High Schools, Universities and Colleges. I’d love to travel the world teaching it. I think it’s so important that something like this be put into the curriculum.”
We’re very excited to see Leyah bring her most ambitious project to life… a pioneering fashion and lifestyle magazine like none other. She tells us it would use Photoshop-free models all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities and abilities. In addition, the editorial spin would be entirely positive, and the ad pages would be void of “silly diet fads or weight loss adverts.” She concluded, “You get the general vibe.”
We most certainly do and we LOVE it and everything you are doing Leyah!
To share your body confidence with others or begin your own journey towards acheiving it, you can submit your photo to The Body Confidence Project here.