Jul 6, 2012

Healthy is the New Skinny

When that inspirational quote popped up on my Pinterest feed last week, I rolled my eyes so hard they’re only just back to normal. No, I am not anti-health. But that new, oft-repeated sentiment (,which, by the way, has also been co-opted by a modeling agency) is pretty hollow. The backlash against fat phobia and fad diets has caused those that profit from women’s insecurities to be more careful with their words. Now, it’s not about hating your body, but supposedly loving it and wanting to be healthy.

 But the reality is, in most cases, healthy is just the new way to say skinny. Health becomes a cudgel to make skinniness a moral imperative. (You know you need to be on a diet. Do you want diabetes?) Women are still encouraged to judge their health based on adherence to a narrow body standard and not more important markers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, A1C results, the ability to move, soundness of overall diet, etc. And there is no acknowledgment of differing body types or that a woman can be big and healthy, too.

I will believe healthy is the new skinny when mainstream coverage of health is less about weight and more about getting back healthy numbers from the doctor. (Though we cannot always dictate our own health.) More about being able to finish a 30-minute run than about looking like the actresses and models on the cover of Women’s Health, who are overwhelmingly skinny, young, white, and of a particular body type.

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