Women’s Health Magazine reported yesterday that it is saying good-bye to the “bikini body” phrase. It banned this and “drop two sizes” insult from its cover. The catch phrases had been staples to grab attention at newsstands – they are still used by other publications.
Women’s Health is taking a tip from stars increasingly condemning the bikini body obsession. In 2012, mega Pop star, Lada Gaga called for compassion in the weight struggle, posting to her Twitter feed, “To all the girls that think you’re ugly because you’re not a size 0, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society that’s ugly.”
Popular triple-threat: actor, dancer, and singer, Zendaya made headlines in 2015 when she slammed Modeliste magazine for photo shopping her likeness to make her appear more skinny. This action, Zendaya Tweeted, “…. promotes unrealistic beauty ideals.”
Apparently, Women’s Health readers dislike words that that hint of dieting and a have a negative connotation of personal body-image. Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Amy Keller Laird wrote to readers at the magazine’s Website, “… Since our goal is always to pump you up, and never to make you feel bad, here’s our pledge: They’re gone [the catchphrases]. They’ll no longer appear on Women’s Health covers. (Whew, that felt good!)”
Keller Laird added that the top three readers’’ “favorite” words would get more exposure in the publication: the words, toned; strong; and sexy. She wrote two, “Dear John letters” to the outed phrases, explaining their colloquial contexts and why they were being “fired.”
The letter to bikini body defined it as a “misnomer” and an “unintentional insult” implying that only a certain body type should be allowed to wear a bikini. Keller Laird writes, “Any body — every body — is a bikini body.” However, some cosmopolitan magazines seem to intentionally insult bodily imperfections, encouraging rapid, dangerous, and unrealistic weight-loss goals, and photo-shopping images.
Plus-size model Tess Holiday said it best, “There’s only one guaranteed way to get a bikini body anyway – put a bikini on a body.”
CBC News picked up the Women’s Health story, adding that the decision was a “body-positive” reaction to a reader survey that also got “diet” and “shrink” blacklisted to the archives previously.
In support of health, France implemented a medical requirement last month for runway models. They must now provide a doctor’s certification of their “healthy” weight – that they are “not too skinny to work” the runway. According to The Guardian, the doctor’s decision is based on “a range of criteria, including age, gender and body shape,” Failing to produce these documents upon request can result in a six month jail confinement and a €75,000 (approximately $114,000 Cdn) fine.
According to French legislator Oliver Veran, about 30,000 to 40,000 people have been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in France (many of those diagnosed are teenagers). “Agencies, designers and magazines alike have also been blamed in the past for pressuring models to maintain a “sample size” of zero, sometimes to the point of death.”
Similar health concerns for both models and the general public have inspired legislation in Italy, Spain and Israel. Publications and runway shows are also enforcing restrictions on underweight and underage models.
Contrary to popular opinion, depression does not cause, but is partly caused by low self-esteem. Depression mixed with poor-body image is a dangerous cocktail leading to some of the most serious psychosomatic eating disorders of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating to the point of developing diabetes and other conditions.
“We never want to be that type of women’s magazine,” Keller Laird wrote – the type that promotes low self-esteem.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and has long been associated with ultra-thin models and the fashion industry.
French model Isabelle Caro’s emaciated body with protruding skeletal features appeared in a shock ad campaign by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani for an Italian fashion house in 2007. Though the ad was saying, “No [to] Anorexia,” it made many people uncomfortable facing the fact that the industry is “feeding” this image while models starve.
Caro passed away at 28 years of age in 2010 after a long battle with anorexia. She attributed her condition to a “very challenging” childhood.” He struggle with anorexia began at the age of 13. The ad was banned in France.
France’s National Assembly also agreed on Thursday that published images that have been “touched up” or otherwise altered to make a person appear thinner or more robust, must now bear a disclaimer that reads, “retouched photograph”. Violations will be fined up to 30 percent of the ad campaign cost (French-headquarted beauty brand, L’Oreal spent $2.34 billion on ads in 2013 alone).