healthy equals what?

Yesterday I was sitting in my women’s studies class, minding my own business and being an attentive student when my professor showed us this image of a rather thin model.

She asked if people thought this woman looked healthy or if she looked too thin. Half of the class answered that she looked healthy. In case you guys don’t recognize her, this is Ana Carolina Reston, and she died of complications due to anorexia. I think I spent the rest of the day livid at the fact that this culture glorifies certain body types regardless of what it takes to get there. She most certainly is not the first person to be used as an “ideal body” and actually we find out later that she was really struggling.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I “don’t look like I have an eating disorder.” My own sister has told me that I never looked anorexic because my bones weren’t sticking out or anything. And honestly, I don’t really blame her. The way that anorexia is presented in the media is that you have to be absolutely emaciated and dying to actually have a problem. I’ve had so many friends that have been told they looked “amazing” or “beautiful” at their lowest and most unhealthy weights. When they were struggling, starving, and miserable.

It would be one thing if the media glorified people that ate healthily, exercised moderately, and took care of their bodies, regardless of their size. But it doesn’t do that. Everyone seems to spend a lot more time focusing on the people that eat healthily and exercise moderately and are also on the VERY thin side. I definitely won’t say that the media blatantly encourages eating disorders, because we see people being attacked all the time for being “too thin,” but I am just really frustrated that practically everyone’s idea of “healthy” looks like a Victoria’s Secret model. I wish people would quit fighting for people to fit within a certain weight category or image category. No offense, but if you’re eating fairly healthily and exercising moderately, I don’t really give a shit what your body looks like. And neither should other people. Because it isn’t their business.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that people can look like that and still be healthy, good for those people. That’s what healthy looks like for them. My roommate is one of them. I’m just upset that everyone is held up to this standard. Bodies are all different. They have different genetics and work in different ways. So people need to quit expecting them all to be relatively the same size and shape. My body is my business. Your body is your business. Don’t judge it. Don’t comment on it. You can’t prove that one is healthier than the other just by looking at them. And along the same lines, you can’t prove that eating/exercising exactly a certain way will make you look a certain way. You can’t say, “this is what my healthy is going to look like” and then do whatever it takes to get to that shape and call yourself healthy. Because that’s not how it works. I would just like to see some diversity. In advertisements, in media, in movies, in everything. And I know that we now have plus size models, but even they are all perfectly proportioned, curved, balanced, and quite frankly, often the same size. I never see pear shaped models. Or movies with actresses that have love handles. If the size that my body wants to be includes cellulite on my thighs then let me leave it like that, goddammit.


3 responses

  1. I totally agree; the western society has a tendency to glorify more naturally skinny people. The problem is that they focus strictly on the exterior – as opposed to the interior. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

  2. Savannah,
    It is unsettling and painful to hear how praise is often heaped onto some struggling with deep, abiding problems when those struggles are at their most bloody. I can only imagine the pain it can cause, then and in the future. It reinforces the unhealthy behaviors themselves as a means to get praise, but it also reinforces the need for that praise. Thank you again for your insight–I’ll be reading more soon!

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