Generally speaking, 2017 was pretty rough. We can all agree hate reared its ugly head way too many times. But it also forced us to find common ground—and realize we're not so different after all, no matter what we look like.

With the year (finally) coming to close, we want to celebrate all the regular people who made the biggest difference in how we see ourselves. Check out these eight inspirational badasses who shared their stories and changed the way we look at our bodies.

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This is apart of me I'm not changing. 🚫 Not only do I not have the finances to chance this part of my body, I don't have the emotionality to change it. To actually undergo the surgery I've researched and phoned in about so many times, I can't do it. ❌ I don't blame others for going through it, it's just not something that I can do. I honestly don't even hate this part of me anymore, through #embracethesquish I have found more and more women who help me accept this part of myself. 🌸 There's nothinggggg to be ashamed of. A body part that doesn't look like the body parts you've seen PLASTERED in the media, doesn't make it wrong. Yes it'll feel wrong to embrace. Yes it's counterintuitive to love yourself as is. Yes there will be moments where you're not fucking good at accepting yourself. And you'll truck through all of them, just like you have with the last x amount of years of yourself. When I get messages from my friends, people from my city, women from other countries, on different continents, within different cultures that tell me I help them love themselves a bit better, I end up loving myself a bit more in the process. GOOD ATTRACTS GOOD. If what you're doing right now DOESNT feel good, STOP. Start doing something that might be a little scary (but may be a little fun) and try something new. Chasing yourself in circles fuelled by dislike, hate, negativity will NOT equal out to a positive, well balanced, harmonious, loving, soothing, body, mind or soul. If could all just embrace the squish a little more maybe we wouldn't be as rigid to ourselves and to others. #selflovebootcamp #selfloveisthebestlove #beyourownhero #beautybeyondsize 💞💞💞💞💞

A post shared by K E N Z I E ⚡️ B R E N N A 💙 (@kenziebrenna) on

When Kenzie Brenna lost a ton of weight, it didn't disappear without a trace. It became loose skin, which is what happens to pretty much everyone. So what makes Brenna so special? Rather than obsessing over and hating her imperfections, Brenna started the process of learning to love and accept them. She reminded us how important it is to embrace our bodies as they are instead of pinching and prodding and falling into a circle of self-hate.

Read the full story here.

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COMPLEX CARBS // Still think that delicious beige food is bad for you? You’re wrong. Why? Let me spell it out for you... . . 1) They taste fucking great and make you happy. 2) They’re brain food. Your think tank runs on glucose and is actually your hungriest organ, using up a load of energy each day. Eating carbs keeps you sharp and awake. (Omg that’s actual science stuff. I’m not even taking the piss. I have no idea where that came from. It just slipped out, sorry.) 3) Dr Heinz and his Alphabet Spaghetti are a prime example of just how complex (and therefore great for your IQ as well as energy levels) carbs can be. You don’t see Algebraic turkey steaks or String Theory coconut oil, do you? Exactly 4) Is anyone else hungry looking at this picture? I am. And I’ve just eaten it. 5) sorry, I’m rambling now. Maybe my glucose is probably low. I should probably have a bag of chips. 6) Speaking of chips. Sunday hangovers would be a whole lot worse without the warming blanket of deep-fried beige to coddle you back to health after too many bottles of blue WKD the night before. . . So, actually, the issue of carbs isn’t complex at all. It perfectly simple. Tell TOWIE to fuck off and say yes to Carbs before, during, after, in and around Marbs. You deserve it.

A post shared by Wellness Ted (@wellness_ted) on

As the husband of Insta-famous health blogger @wellness_ed, Edward Lane (a.k.a. @wellness_ted) knows too well how artificial the online wellness community can be. (Does anyone actually flex like that all the time? Do they ever eat anything other than salads?!) Lane created a parody Instagram to tell the world that NOPE, nobody looks like that all the time. And there's definitely no reason anyone should feel obligated to. In case you forgot, you don't need six-pack abs to be healthy.

Read the full story here.

105-year-old Lil Hansen teaching a yoga class

If you think you're too old to do the splits, think again. Lil Hansen is 105 years old and still teaches yoga once a week at the senior center in her hometown of Ludington, Michigan. She's been doing it for years and has no plans to stop anytime soon. A viral news article published by Hansen's hometown news station reminded the world that yoga (and fitness) is for every body, not just young ones.

See the video here.

A plus-size woman painted metallic gold posing for a photoshoot

As a photographer and plus-size model, Silvana Denker knows how unwelcoming the world can be to plus-size women. To fight back and (literally) highlight the beauty of every body, Denker made a photo project called "Metallic Curves," where she painted plus-size women in silver and gold paint to capture all their curvy beauty.

Check out the full series here, and read the story here.

Kirsten Bosly, a 41-year-old mother of two, spent years avoiding taking photos with her kids because of how self-conscious she was. But after realizing that one day, photos would be all her kids had left of her, she decided that how she looks in a bathing suit means nothing to the people who love her. The result was an adorable photo at the beach with her kids, which she posted on Facebook along with a super-inspiring message about letting go of shame.

Read the full story here.

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Here's to the big girls who work out. I'll be honest — it still makes me cringe to refer to myself as big, but at 5'9 and 200+ lbs. it's an accurate descriptor. I've worked out 4-6 days a week every week since February of 2010. That's almost 7 years. I've been vegetarian since August 2015 and vegan since March 2016. I have practiced Transcendental Meditation for 2 years. I eat so many vegetables. I'm healthy AF. And yet my BMI places me squarely in the "obese" category. That's right — not even overweight. Straight-up obese. My doctor's office file says I have non-morbid obesity. I don't think of it that way. I think of my body in terms of the fact that I just did a 52-minute @fitnessblender lower-body workout and I feel great. When I was young, a kid and a teen and even into my 20s, I believed the people who told me I was out of shape, unathletic. I love my dad dearly, but he was one of them. I felt humiliated to huff and puff and turn red and drip sweat when I exercised. I hated to be worse at *anything* than anyone. I saw exercise as punishment. I believed Jillian Michaels when she said I should want to die in the midst of a workout. But I overcame it. I still struggle with my body. But I don't struggle with how I feel in it. I feel fantastic in it. So fuck BMI and fuck diet culture and fuck Lululemon for not carrying my size. But it doesn't matter because my workout pants don't need to cost $90. Here's to the big girls. We are amazing. And if you're a big girl who doesn't work out, you're amazing too. You have nothing to prove.

A post shared by Katie Karas (@katiekaras) on

Katie Karlson is a total badass. She's 5'9", weighs more than 200 pounds (yep, that makes her obese according to her BMI), is vegan, and has worked out four or more days per week for the last SIX years. In a powerful Instagram post, Karlson explained how messed up it is that everyone assumes big girls (and guys) are lazy or unfit and how the fitness industry doesn't cater to her size.

Read the full story here.

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When I was younger I tried to make myself look shorter. At first when I was in primary school I was jelous of my tinier friends... They were so cute. People were lifting and holding them in their arms and it looked fun. I felt giant. Also at the same time I did team gymnastic and one year I didn't qualify for the team like all of my friends did and it was obviously the "first team". Nobody ever told me why but in my mind it was because I was too tall. I was one head taller than others in that team and because it's also an aesthetic sport, it would make the team unbalanced. ❤ Eventually boys came in the game... I was taller than all nice boys and I hated it. In particular in all discos where the dance was slow... I tried to have bad posture on purpose to look as short as possible. ❤ Until I started to do modelling I thought that I'm never going to be able to use high heels. That I'm too tall to enjoy beautiful shoes. (And in the "model world" I was hoping that I would be even taller!) ❤ It would have been nice to know at a young age that one day my height could and will be my strenght which I really like. At festival concerts I can see well over all the heads. I don't need chairs to get to the top closet. Etc. Now I'm proud and very grateful of my every centimeter. I just wanted to tell you how I struggled for many years with my height, if this can give hope to some who are in same situation. 😊 #NYGyoga

A post shared by Nude Yoga Girl (@nude_yogagirl) on

Nude Yoga Girl might look like she has zero insecurities (she is posing naked, after all), but that couldn't be further from the truth. In a candid Instagram post, the anonymous yogi-slash-photographer reminded us we're all insecure—but that doesn't mean we should hide behind our fear. She opened up about her journey coming to terms with her height and how yoga helped her love her body just how it is.

Read the full story here.

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