May 8, 2015

Is Big Beautiful?

Many of you have probably heard the phrase "big is beautiful" referring to bigger women, and while I agree that everyone is beautiful in their own way, I can't help but wonder if this is healthy for our society.

Should we be promoting that being overweight/unhealthy is beautiful? Obesity is high in America and now kids are being told it doesn't matter what your size is, your beautiful. True, it doesn't matter if you are curvier or have more muscles, but I think there has to be a point where it does matter, and that comes down to weight.

"Because I'm a dietitian and I look at these things from a human health perspective, I have to be extremely concerned when someone is celebrating being overweight or obese. The list of risks that come with being overweight or obese is quite extensive and incredibly serious. What we’re talking about here is not just physical appearance. We want to celebrate how everyone looks and never want to make someone feel bad about the way they look. But, being overweight or obese isn’t something that is handed to you that you have no control over." - Susan Levin, MS, RD, and director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (source)

I agree with Levin. There are many health risks with being overweight and to promote that being unhealthy, being obese, is okay, could lead to the future generation being more unhealthy. But being thin isn't the answer:

"Being thin is not the cure-all. You still need to look at how you’re eating and your lifestyle," Levine warns. "But I can say you’re definitely in a higher risk category for a whole risk of disease if you’re overweight or obese." (source)

Promoting thin women as beautiful can also have negative effects on our society. I'm not saying being thin is unhealthy, there are plenty of people out there who are thin and healthy, but the problem with promoting thin as beautiful is it leads to girls having body images issues, which can lead to anorexia and bulimia. Not everyone was born to be thin.

These models set a "standard" that girls feel they need to fit in order to be beautiful. For many, these standards are impossible to reach. Everyone's body is different, not everyone can be thin or have amazing curves.

There is not just one form of beauty. Our society has a problem with this. Why can't there ever be other size models? What's wrong with being a 4, 6, or 10? We live in a society where it's either 0 (Victoria Secret model) or 16 (plus size model), what about us in between girls? Where are our models?

So what's my point? Well I believe everyone is beautiful in their own way. I also believe you can be beautiful and also unhealthy. It's important for our younger generation to know that there is a difference between beautiful and healthy, to lump them together in a phrase "big is beautiful" could have a negative effect on our society. Instead, we should promote that being healthy is beautiful. In order to do that, we should have models that represent all sizes and shapes, not just thin and big.

That's one message that everyone can agree on. "People shouldn’t try to be thin for the sake of being thin," Levine says. "The healthiest people on this plant don’t count calories, they just eat real foods. Once you do that you will naturally get to the healthiest weight you're supposed to be." (source)