By Alison McGill
Model and body positivity activist Ella Halikas made major headlines in 2021 as one of the stars of Sport Illustrated’s iconic Swimsuit issue. When the publication put out an open casting call, Halikas—a beloved curve-size influencer with over 738,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok—jumped at the opportunity and was chosen as a finalist. She was featured by SI in a stunning portfolio which showcased her and her incredible curves on the shores of Atlantic City.
“It was such a dream, and the experience was something I worked hard for consistently for four years before that,” Halikas says. “It was empowering to shoot with such an iconic, diverse and inclusive brand, which now empowers women of all shapes, sizes and colours to love the skin their in.”
As incredible and confidence boosting as her SI experience was, Halikas says the journey to self-love and body positivity is a constant work in progress for her; it’s a conversation all of us need to work on daily. We spoke to Halikas about all things self-love, and how to best support and champion ourselves to bring joy and acceptance to our every day.
On where the journey to body positivity begins
“It starts right now, today, in the present,” Halikas shares. “You don’t need to wait for the right time to start loving the skin you’re in, you can start today. You can expect it to be challenging, but always worth it. Be patient with yourself and know it’s not some race. It starts with the little things like the way we speak to ourselves when were alone; the way you carry yourself; the way you enter a room. You must believe in YOU!”
On where the world is at with body positivity in 2022
“I feel like the self-acceptance and body positivity movement is up and down. Just when I feel like we’re getting somewhere, I start seeing people fat shaming others and celebrities online. Or I see a bigger brand preach about being size-inclusive on social media, but then only go up to a XL, or Size 12 for their sizing charts. The haters and body shamers will always be there, but it’s up to us to take a stand and speak up. I believe confidence and self-love is a domino effect and is a contagious energy. I love to pass self-loving energy on to others who consume my content online or are around me in person. Thankfully I’ve seen things change for the better in the recent years, but we still have a long way to go.”
On social media’s role in the body positivity movement
“It plays a huge role. If you follow the right accounts and creators, you will see all the uplifting, body-positive content. Although, it can be a slippery slope because there’s still a ton of people online that don’t believe or support the movement. There will always be a hater in the comments of a post saying something negative and fatphobic, but overall, there’s been a great push of body-positive content in the more recent years. Be cautious as to who you follow, and what content you consume, because social media can be equally damaging to our self-image and confidence—unfollow any accounts that don’t make you feel good.”
On her essential self-care habits
“Daily affirmations, journaling, shifting your mindset and hanging around people that make me feel good and lift me up. Health and fitness are a big part of my daily/weekly routine and something I do for reasons other than just losing weight. Working out helps my overall wellbeing and mental health—it helps me a ton with my anxiety. I also practice a daily morning pep talk in the mirror and watch for any negative self-talk. All of this is about focusing on becoming a better version of yourself, for you!”