As someone that works in the fitness industry, I enjoy learning new techniques and ways of teaching. I go to the canfitpro conference each year and normally have the opportunity to attend a dozen sessions by internationally renowned presenters.
I used to love flipping through magazines and had several subscriptions to various publications. But they depressed me; instead of promoting health, they were promoting thinness. “Get the Bikini Body” or “20 Ways to Lose 20 Pounds” were repetitive headlines.
Women’s Health recently decided to change that and have banned several words from the covers of their magazine. They did a survey to determine the words people like to see on a cover such as: “Toned. Strong. Sexy”. The two phrases that didn’t make the cut were: “Drop Two Sizes” and “Bikini Body”. I agree that these two phrases are problematic since it is encouraging an ideal body type that often is not attainable.
Let’s create an average reader and call her Rebecca. She has a healthy BMI at 5’7” tall, is 145 pounds and a size 8. Rebecca reads the fitness and health magazines filled with size 2 models in a bikini. She drops her calories and doubles her workouts so she can have the “Bikini Body” just like the model. What if trying to obtain a size 4 is detrimental for Rebecca’s health? Aside from her portion sizes, what else has Rebecca given up? What are the physical and mental affects that she is placing on herself, her family, and friends? Some questions for you to think about since everyone has different priorities. I just hope that my imaginary reader realizes that a size 8 is already a rockin’ bikini body!
I’m glad that Women’s Health have removed these two phrases but I think that we still have a long way to go. We need media and the fitness industry to ensure promotion is more about overall health. There should be more articles that promote a balance between exercise, healthy eating, socialization, personal time, and the coping strategies of everyday work and family life. We need articles that encourage adults and educate our children. We need pictures that depict people of all walks of life – different shapes, sizes, and cultures – participating in healthy living.
I want a healthy three-dimensional messy life not glossy two-dimensional edited perfection. What do you choose?
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