MEET OUR LEADING LIGHTS

At The Body Shop, we believe that self-love is our superpower that lifts us up to fight for change together.

That’s why we want to give a platform to the emerging global collective of fearless people who have been on the journey to self-love and feel empowered to step up, speak out, challenge what is broken and fight for a fairer and more beautiful world.

Read the inspirational stories of our Leading Lights here to discover how they started their journeys and shared that love with the world.

Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, @ind0ctrination

“If you’ve ever been made to feel like you don’t belong, loving yourself is the most poignant form of resistance you could practice.”

Dr. Trinetra
CONTENT CREATOR & TRANS ACTIVIST

What is your inspiration?

My community will always be my biggest inspiration - the collective resilience, the unwavering courage to persist despite all odds in the face of abuse, violence, hardship. No one should have to experience trauma to grow resilient, but every day, I find fellow trans people embrace euphoria and celebrate it with such grace and beauty, I can’t help but feel like my struggles have been small, and I can face it all. Their resilience glows on me.

How powerful is collective self-love?

Collective self-love is nothing short of protest. In a world that thrives, profits off of and capitalizes on hating our bodies and identities, loving ourselves means reclaiming all that we were taught to hate, redefining preconceived notions, breaking binaries. Self-love as a community is how we take care of ourselves and each other, and therein lift each other up.

I remember a time when waking up wasn’t as easy as it is today. A time when the world saw me as somebody I wasn’t, when it called me a different name and used different pronouns. The mirror reflected somebody I didn’t recognize, and after a certain point, hating myself wasn’t worth it. That’s when my self-love journey began, and I’ve never looked back since.

More often than not, in a world that thrives off of hating trans people, loving yourself is hard. But I’m starting to realise that I find self-love whenever I do something I’m extremely passionate about - Be it medicine, or in front of ring light. When an exhausting day ends, self-love is being able to let your guard down, and realise that to be yourself in the face of immense hatred, in itself: is a revolutionary act of self-love

Ankita Chaturvedi, @CORALLISTABLOG

“If you can look at yourself in the mirror without judgment and shame, half the battle is won. Self-love begins with self-acceptance.”

Ankita Chaturvedi
CONTENT CREATOR

What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love to me is self-acceptance. To be able to celebrate the beauty in you and embrace the flaws at the same time, and remind yourself that you are a work-in-progress. You have the opportunity to learn and grow each day, while treating yourself with kindness, care and compassion.

How can we learn to self-love?

Shame is the biggest hurdle and it exists in all of us to some degree. We are scared to look at the parts of ourselves that we consider imperfect. The words “I am good enough” are so powerful and if you just repeat this to yourself every single day, your brain takes it as a directive, and a lot of the shame, fear of judgment and self-hatred dissipates away.

Self Love can mean different things to different people. To me, it is unconditional acceptance of myself, just the way I am. Through most of my teenage and my 20s, I was constantly looking for validation through work, through relationships, always looking through the eyes of other. I was extremely critical of myself, and I was extremely unhappy. I went through struggles with my weight, PCOD, depression and a long-term abusive relationship, ultimately to realise, that I have to like, accept, and value myself first, and even if no one else does. It must come from within, and not as reflection of how someone sees me. I am ENOUGH, just the way I am. And so are YOU. Self Love is Action. And it’s time to Act. Tell us your self-love journey or an act of self-love.

Alex Mathew, @mayathedragqueen

“Maya comes from a place of love, kindness and fierceness. The moment you accept your true self; you will start falling in love with yourself. That’s an important step in self-love.”

Alex Mathew
DRAG QUEEN & LGBTQ+ ACTIVIST

What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love for me means finding and accepting my own uniqueness. Every time I face a situation, my first priority is to safeguard my happiness and positivity. It’s important to take care of yourself and not sacrifice your well-being to please others.

How can we learn to self-love?

Surrounding yourself with positivity is the biggest step one can take on their path to self-love. My personal experience is that I start that day with encouraging affirmations and tell myself “I am fabulous and I am ready to thrive in this world.” At the end of the day, I make sure that I focus on celebrating big and small wins. Lastly, listen to your intuition importantly and not your inner critic.

For twenty-five years of my life, I had to follow what people and society were dictating about what needs to be done in my life. However, I realized that when will my dreams will be taken into consideration too if I started to give myself more importance by saying my voice and dreams matter too. My dream was to be a fabulous stage performer. Self-love lifted me up to stay true to myself and being unapologetically me was more than enough to fight for a change in society. Believing in yourself and trusting your instinct can take you further than listening to what people have to say about you. Look at me! I trust my gut and I have been standing true to myself. An unapologetic Indian drag queen. Join me and The Body Shop in creating Self Love Uprising. Together, we aim to inspire a million acts of Self-Love. Tell us about your acts of self-love with #Self Love Uprising

CHAR ELLESSE, @GIRLSWILLBEBOYS_ FOUNDER

Char is founder of @girlwillbeboys, an online platform blurring the lines between gender roles.

“As a queer black woman, me existing is defiance.”

Char Ellesse
CONTENT CREATOR & CHANGE-MAKER

What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love is choosing yourself over and over and over again, regardless of who is telling you that you shouldn't or who is making you feel like you shouldn't.

My wakeup call to self-love was shaving my hair around six or seven years ago. It was the start of me creating a platform which encourages other people to share their stories of self-discovery and the importance of self-love. I want to encourage women and non-binary folk to make that initial move that helped me.

With any experience that you're going through, to know that you're not alone is key to helping you move forward with your journey. I feel where there’s a collective or shared stories, it helps you to feel seen and it validates your experience.

What would you change about the world?

One thing that I would change about the world is to remove all the toxicity targeted at marginalised people.

I feel like, especially as a woman, especially as a black woman, especially as a queer black woman, me existing is defiance. Period. I feel like the world was not built for people like me. It's rebellious for me to do whatever I want to do and to thrive while I'm doing it.

How do you unlock the power of self-love?

The key to unlocking the power of self-love is being committed to the cause and understanding that it's a journey, not a destination. And it’s something that you have to continually work on.

Self-love is not linear and you will go up and down, but as long as you’re moving forward, then that’s absolutely fine.

GINA MARTIN, POLITICAL ACTIVIST

Gina is an author, activist, feminist and UN ambassador. She campaigned to change the law on upskirting.

“Loving yourself is a practice in a world that tells you that you shouldn't.”

Gina Martin
POLITICAL ACTIVIST & UN AMBASSADOR

What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love is permission to completely be yourself.

I think the key to unlocking its power is stepping into the things you care about really honestly. It's very difficult to respect and love yourself when you're doing things that aren't authentic or don't feel completely you. The key to self-love for me was figuring out what I cared about.

Once I did that, I respected myself and felt strong enough to start loving and taking care of myself far more.

Why is self-love a journey?

If you're at the beginning of your self-love journey, it's really important not to rush it. Don’t feel like you have to go from struggling to loving every part of yourself. Slowly put more time into the things you love, spend time with the people that really care about you, get rid of people that don't, and start to make specific positive actions in your life.

My journey to self-love probably began in 2017, when I launched a campaign to change the law and worked full-time. I took on far too much, so I decided to make taking care of myself, looking after my body, resting, all those things, part of my routine.

Loving yourself and respecting yourself is a practice in a world that tells you that you shouldn't. It has to be a little bit every day, so take it slow and be honest with yourself.

How powerful is collective self-love?

I don't think there's anything more powerful than sharing our stories and experiences.

If you look at major changes over the past 10 years, like the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, it has started from people sharing their stories. Constantly people feel like their stories don't matter, yet they collectively change our consciousness and culture.

That’s the one lesson that I wish everyone would heed – stand up and say something that's happened to you. That's your experience. And there's going to be other people that have felt the same way. You're going to make them feel less alone and take the shame away. That's what brings collective self-love.

SOPHIE BUTLER, FITNESS COACH & ACTIVIST

Sophie is a fitness coach and activist who campaigns to support women and empower through education.

“When we go out into the world bold and empowered, we raise everyone else.”

Sophie Butler
FITNESS COACH & ACTIVIST

How can we learn to self-love?

The key to unlocking the power of self-love is questioning everything.

Throughout our lives we’ve been taught so much and we've picked up so many things subconsciously, so question why. If you wake up, look in the mirror and think, ‘I don’t like that’, ask, ‘Why?’. When you question yourself, you can move forward and start to unlock the mechanisms of overcoming that negative thought process.

I’d love to give more people the empowerment to question everything. That really is the most powerful thing. You can't make people love themselves, but you can help them to stop in their tracks and think why they don’t. Because when you think why you don’t fill your life with self-love, there really isn't a good enough answer.

How do you help others self-love?

I think helping other people wake up to the power of self-love really does start within yourself. When you’re starting your self-love journey, the most important thing is just to be kind with yourself. I don't think we all wake up one day and immediately jump to self-love.

I’d say my journey to self-love actually really began with my accident, when I became paralysed. Before I became a disabled woman, I always thought that I loved myself. But it wasn’t until I went through a life-changing event, until I became someone who is now living in a marginalised body and a body that isn’t often celebrated, that I really had to learn what self-love was.

How powerful is collective self-love?

I think self-love is really at its most powerful when it's in a collective formation and we're all really coming together with our own individual self-love. I think when we can go out into the world bold and empowered, we can then help raise everyone else up.

CHARLIE CRAGGS, AUTHOR & TRANS ACTIVIST

Charlie is an author and trans rights campaigner. She uses her platform to make allies and break misconceptions.

“Collective self-love builds a culture of kindness.”

Charlie Craggs
AUTHOR & TRANS ACTIVIST

What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love to me is about accepting yourself and loving yourself, even if there are things about yourself you don't like. For me, it’s about treating myself with care in a world that doesn't care about bodies like mine.

My journey with self-love began from a place of really not loving myself, like a lot of trans people and a lot of people in general. I think sometimes you need to reach rock bottom before you can start building yourself up again.

The advice that I’d give to someone at the beginning of their self-love journey is just to be kind to yourself. That's an act of self-love in itself. It's really important to understand that it's not a step at a time – it’s often just a toe at as time.

How do you help others self-love?

I try to help others wake up to the power of self-love by just being my most authentic self, especially for trans representation. I think it’s so important just to be boldly trans, be proudly trans.

Self-love is really pivotal in my life as an activist. I don't think I would be able to do what I do and encourage people to want to change the world if I didn't have this foundation of self-love.

How can self-love change the world?

If I could change one thing about the world, it would just be for people to be more kind and loving to each other. And I think that starts with being kind and loving to yourself.

Collective self-love is so important because this is what will build a culture of self-love and kindness, being kind and loving to ourselves, being kind and loving to other people. I think that's what our culture and our society need right now.