Love Your Body

6 women who remind us to love our bodies — exactly the way they are

This article is part of TODAY Style's "Love Your Body" series.

Celebrities aren't the only ones preaching body positivity and self-love this year — plenty of everyday heroes have emerged, too.

From fitness bloggers who got real about their bodies, to ordinary women who decided to face their fears and put on a swimsuit, these viral stories really resonated with us.

Here are some of our favorites.

1. Sarah Sapora

"The last time I wore a low-rise bikini, I was 13 years old at fat camp."

Sarah Sapora's confidence is contagious. She posted a photo of herself in a bikini on social media, explaining that, as a size 22, she feels better about her body than ever before.

"And more comfortable, more balanced, and more joyful than I have ever been in my entire life," she wrote on Instagram.

Sapora, who runs the plus-size wellness blog Sarah Plus Life, encouraged other women to feel the same.

"We get one turn around this dance floor, folks," she wrote. "There comes a time in your life when you realize it's time to play the music you like, and dance like nobody's watching. Or like everyone is watching. Except if anyone is heckling, you don't care because you're too busy moving and shaking and living and laughing to (notice)."

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Women strip down to embrace their beauty ahead of swimsuit season

Play Video - 5:31

Women strip down to embrace their beauty ahead of swimsuit season

Play Video - 5:31

2. Kirsten Mosly

"I'm tired of being ashamed of my body."

Mom blogger Kirsten Mosly had no idea that forgetting her cover-up one day at the beach would be the catalyst to her becoming a viral sensation. But that's exactly what happened. One day, she realized she'd forgotten her trusty board shorts. So Mosly had to do something she hadn't done before: simply wear her swimsuit.

And that's when it clicked: It was time to stop hating her body, and just have fun.

"The truth is, I'm tired of being ashamed of my body," she wrote on Facebook. "It's done nothing but support me for 41 years... So today I let go. I let go of the hatred and resentment of this body of mine and chose to enjoy it for what it is: my body."

3. Milly Smith

"The world doesn't need another copy, it needs you."

Milly Smith used a pair of tights to prove a powerful point in February, when she posted two side-by-side images. At first glance, they appeared to be another set of before-and-after photos that are so popular on Instagram.

But upon closer look, it was just an illusion, thanks to a pair of tights.

"Same girl, same day, same time," Smith wrote. "Not a before and after. Not a weight loss transformation. I am comfortable with my body in both. Neither is more or less worthy."'

4. Brittney Johnson

"Those are the words burned into my daughter's brain."

When trying on swimsuits in a dressing room with her young daughter, mom Brittney Johnson knew she had to choose her words carefully.

"There is a split moment when I have the power to say 'wow I have really gotten fat this year' OR 'wow I love this coral color on me!'" she wrote on Facebook. "And those are the words burned into my daughter's brain."

She was proud when her daughter looked in the mirror at her own body and had the best response: "Wow, I just love cheetah print! I think I look beautiful! Do you think I look beautiful, too!?"

She certainly does, and Johnson's post is a reminder to everyone — not just moms — that children learn by example.

5. Michelle Rogers

"I'm done with hiding my body under baggy shirts and cropped photos."

Michelle Rogers' story went viral when she vowed to stop cropping her photos on social media.

She'd shared a photo of herself wearing a black bodysuit and jeans, along with an inspiring message about confidence, but later admitted that she'd cropped her stomach and thighs out of the photo because she hadn't been comfortable with how they looked.

Later, she realized she had to be honest.

"I'm done with hiding my body under baggy shirts and cropped photos," she wrote in an update. "I am learning to embrace me, for me!"

6. Lizzy Howell

"In the dance world, it shouldn't matter what size I am. The only thing that should matter is my technique."

turning monday¿ #ballet#turn#balletdancer#dancer#foutte

A post shared by Lizzy (@lizzy.dances) on

After a video of ballerina Lizzy Howell pirouetting went viral, the teen found herself at the center of a conversation about what a ballerina should look like.

Many people applauded Howell for breaking barriers. As she told TODAY, size shouldn't even be a factor.

"It feels good to be a role model for all women," she said. "In the dance world, it shouldn't matter what size I am. The only thing that should matter is my technique."

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