I recently read Bust Magazine’s article (I use this term lightly, because it seems like a one-sided promotional piece) about Natural Model Management, a new modeling agency whose slogan is “Healthy Is The New Skinny.”
While I agree that the modeling industry always seems to be seriously f-ed up, and that it’s horrible that models either have to lose or even gain weight to keep their jobs, I take issue with the idea that we should let go of the skinny ideal in favor of a healthy ideal.
Substituting the skinny ideal with a healthy ideal just ends up raising lots of new questions and problems. What is health? Who is healthy? And why the heck are we supplanting one impossible to reach (for many) ideal with another one?
The dictionary definition of health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain.” How many of us can say that this is our current state? Most people I know, fat, thin and in between have something going on that would knock them out of this description. Allergies, nearsightedness, quickness to anger over thoughtless online articles, those are just the start of mine, and I’m sure you share a few too. And I’m, arguably, relatively healthy.
So what if you have more severe physical, emotional or even spiritual issues? What if you’re disabled, have chronic health issues, etc. Should you constantly be striving not to have them? And should you be shunned or otherwise left out of society? Absolutely not.
In recent years, we’ve seen a spate of seemingly body positive slogans like, “Real Women Have Curves” and “Healthy Is The New Skinny.” But these slogans inevitably leave a lot of people out and create the same us vs. them paradigms that the slogan promoters seek to change. Creating a new and limited ideal in favor of an old and limited ideal is never the answer.
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight.