Traditionally, swimsuits in this country tend to be modeled by very slim women. Even the suits that are targeted towards more curvy women are often times displayed on very slender models. Featuring Ashley on the cover of Sports Illustrated is a refreshing breakthrough in an industry that tends to only highlight one body type. Ashley’s appearance celebrates a group of women who I believe have not been properly represented or acknowledged by the fashion industry for years!
It’s really important to avoid comparing yourself to others and I recommend you focus on being your own personal best at all times. However, it can take an incredible amount of inner strength for women and men to continue seeing daily images of mostly airbrushed models and still hold on to their own self esteem. That is what makes this edition of Sports Illustrated so important and why I’m so excited about it. Ashley is more than a woman with great curves rocking a swimsuit. I believe Ashley’s photo shoot will literally help set some people free. Instead of people dieting and torturing themselves to conform to one look, my hope is that she will inspire the public to focus on being healthy, strong, and comfortable in their own skin.
While many people like myself are applauding Sports Illustrated and incredibly proud of Ashley, there have been some critics. What I find sad is that one of her critics was Cheryl Tiegs, a fellow model. Cheryl stated that she is concerned that plus size models are sending an unhealthy message to the public. I never like to assume what is in another person’s heart and I don’t think Cheryl meant to be unkind. However, it is very wrong to assume that just because a person wears a certain size clothing they are unhealthy. That is between the individual and their physician.
Over the years I’ve trained people of all sizes and I’ve learned that it is never a good idea to judge someone’s health by their size. I’ve had the opportunity to perform numerous health assessments and review enough doctor’s reports to learn that there are larger people in great health. I personally know curvy women that run marathons, have flat stomachs, and look amazing in skin tight clothing. Sure, there are people that need to lose weight for health reasons (some of it serious) and I help coach them throughout their weight loss journey.
However, I’ve also seen a lot of damage done to people’s bodies due to yo-yo dieting and overtraining in their attempt to achieve a certain size. Eating disorders are very real and they are usually camouflaged under the guise of “eating healthy.”
When I read an interview about a supermodel crying herself to sleep because she went to bed hungry or I hear a male model admit to dehydrating his body to look “ripped” for a photo shoot, I begin to question “what are we calling healthy?” It is disheartening to hear a spokesperson from the fashion industry which is widely known for its unhealthy behavior and body image issues criticize larger models all in the name of public health. I find it a flimsy excuse for judging others.
Ashley Graham is not petite. However, I highly doubt she is unhealthy. Actually, she looks VERY healthy to me. She works out harder than I do and I’m guessing she maintains a healthy diet. The most healthy part about her is her attitude and the fact that she’s so confident in her own skin she’s not willing to starve herself to fit someone else’s idea of what she should look like. She has such a healthy level of self-esteem that she was able to say no to harming herself for the purpose of fortune and fame which is something I wish more models were willing to do.
Please understand, I’m not discounting the hard work of naturally thin models. When we as a society make the statement “bodies come in all shapes and sizes” that includes thin women too and they should be equally celebrated for their God-given beauty and talents. The idea behind embracing curvy women is for prejudice and judgement to stop. Thin models should not have to experience judgement either.
To say that health is all about being a certain height and weight is to put people in a generic box. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “positive health is associated with a capacity to enjoy life and to withstand challenges; it is not merely the absence of disease.” So far, Ashley fits the bill.
It’s important to eat well, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. It’s also important to remember that your number on the scale is personal. You know when you feel your best and you’re not depriving yourself. I think Ashley does too. She’s a great example to us all.
Bring on the swimsuit weather!