New Women’s Blogs Challenge Standards of Beauty

There is an antidote to the "thinspiration" sites that lurk in the darkest corners of the Internet hawking a depressing array of tools to spark and stoke eating disorders (pictures of ultra-skinny celebs, methods of fasting, stories of successful anorexics). "Be Brave! Join the Body Peace Revolution!" proclaims Stop Hating Your Body (SHYB) on tumblr.

SHYB is one of a growing number of websites and blogs created by women and girls aimed at promoting self-acceptance and challenging our current notions of beauty.

Related: French ELLE dubs curvy model "The Body"

Annie Segarra, who launched the site in 2010 says, "I wanted to create a space where people could express themselves about body image, where all sorts of different body types, age groups, ethnicity, beliefs, can unite over one thing: the desire to be happy, the desire to love themselves completely." On SHYB and other similar sites, users share their insecurities, post pictures of them selves, and receive encouraging feedback from others.

There is a DIY feel about many of these sites and that's for a good reason. "If we wait for television and magazines to do this for us, we're going to be waiting a very long time," Leslie Kinzel, who started Fatshionista and who now runs Two Whole Cakes, told "So we do it ourselves." Kinzel is part of a trendy gang of bloggers who believe that being overweight and fashionable are not mutually exclusive. They offer styling advice for bigger girls, tips on the best shops for plus sized clothing, and a large dose of body love, whatever the size.

Jessica Kane, a curvy diva and creator of the blog The Life and Style of Jessica puts it this way, "The majority of women need to be represented, and blogs like mine that thrive with hundreds of thousands of views a month show that there are women who want to see more. We need the thin girls next to the big girls as well as the brown girls next to the white girls. Diversity is key."

Operation Beautiful, which was launched by Caitlin Boyle in 2009 and has been featured on Oprah, promotes a clever way to spread the gospel of self-acceptance. The blog, which Boyle says she founded to "help people end negative self-talk," encourages users to post sticky notes for complete strangers on mirrors in public places that read "You are beautiful!" or "You are amazing just the way you are!"

Boyle, 27, just finished blogging about another action-oriented beauty adventure called TheNakedFaceProject. For 60 days, beginning on February 1, 2012, she and her friend Molly Barker, 51, swore off any "feminine" primping including makeup, special hairstyling, high heels, tight or revealing clothing, hair removal, and even deodorant-and they invited other women to join them.

During the first week, Boyle says that when she caught a glimpse of her naked face she felt as if didn't belong to her: "like I was wearing a sweater inside out," she tells Shine. By the end, she realized, "Once I got over the hump - the initial shock of doing it differently for the first time in my life - I really began to understand that I am the same person either way." For Barker the experience was also transformative. She acknowledges that she was "literally terrified" for the first two weeks of the project but by the time it wrapped up, she felt that, "beauty, at least the kind I see now and feel now, comes when I lean into where my joy is."

Do you have any beauty, fashion, or body acceptance blogs that truly inspire you? Please share with us in the comments below.

Also on Shine:

The Naked Face Project: Two Women's Primp-free Challenge

What Determines Your Self-Esteem?

Body Proud: What we Love About Our Bodies