The Real Story Behind Body Size and Health

Body size often comes with subtle judgments, beliefs, and stereotypes about a person’s character. If you are overweight, you must be lazy, less fashionable, and unhealthy. However, if you are thin, you are pegged as determined, beautiful, fashionable, and at the pinnacle of health. 

Many people, including myself, have suffered from the sweeping generalization that a bigger body equals bad health, but why? Let me give you one guess, the media. The media is super concentrated on outside appearances that news outlets praise skinnier bodies and criticize those with curves. 

This logic is harmful since it promotes the idea that to be healthy, you must be thin. Although, that’s not always the case.  

After all, someone’s appearance does not define their health. Health is a muti-structured concept. There is physical health, mental health, and social health, which all contribute to your overall health and wellness. Sadly, the physical body is focused on the most, but there’s more to health than your weight or size.

A good example is Demi Lovato. She started her career in the early 2000s as a teenager and debuted her solo career in 2008. The media at the time complimented her appearance, often calling her gorgeous and inspiring to girls everywhere. However, when she gained weight years later, the media attacked her, calling her fat, and suggested she was unhealthy.  

Although what a lot of people didn’t know was that she’s struggled with an eating disorder for years. She would binge and, at times, starve herself to stay thin. How is that healthy? Spoiler alert, it’s not.  

Another example includes Ashley Graham, who made history by being the first plus-sized model on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. The cover was inspirational to all women and girls, but it came with the backlash that she was fat, unhealthy and promoted a bad and obese lifestyle. These articles and comments only increased when she started her own swimsuit line and still follow her around to this day. 

She constantly has to stay positive against trolls who say she’s less than others simply because her appearance is different than the stereotypical model. It not only sends a negative message that she and women like her are unhealthy but that they are not accepted in society because of their weight. 

What the media omits is that you can be a size 16 and be healthy, just as someone who is a size 1 or 2 can be unhealthy. Physical health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels ultimately matter more than the number on the scale. Mental factors, too, like feeling energized, motivated, and feeling positive about yourself and your future, contribute more to wellness than a person’s numerical weight.  

Not to mention, body size is not something people can control. Some people, thanks to their genetics and ethnic background, will never have a skinny profile simply because they are not built that way, and that’s okay; in fact, it’s natural.  

However, the media likes to promote that being overweight is unhealthy because it increase their bottom line. It creates buzz and helps boost viewership, whether their logic is right or not. 

The problem is they don’t stop to think about the young boys and girls who read these articles and believe health equals thinness. It continues the cycle of fat shaming, body insecurities and leads individuals to take dangerous actions to be thin and accepted. It’s time to change the narrative and equate bigger bodies with health and wellness.

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