Yep, that’s right, buh-bye one-famed Bikini Body! We won’t miss your taunting images that made every woman feel inadequate as you emblazoned yourself across some of our favorite magazines each summer. In fact, it was high time you ended your reign and gave way to a new movement, one that allowed for more body positivity and inclusiveness.
ICYMI, just before 2016 got into full swing, Women’s Health Magazine in the US made the bold important step of telling its readers it would no longer be using terms like “bikini body” or “drop two sizes” in response to reader feedback. They heard the message loud and clear that when people want to read about getting healthy, they want to read about getting healthy. Period. Not losing weight to look a certain way in order to feed the endless machine that, for generations, has told women societal value comes from conforming to appearance-driven values.
In a tongue-in-cheek show of symbolism, editor-in-chief Amy Keller Laird wrote two editors letters to both the aforementioned terms in a way that firmly stated what their mission would be about going forward.
“You told us you don’t love the words ‘shrink’ and ‘diet’, and we’re happy to say we kicked those to the cover curb ourselves over the past year. But we’re still using two other phrases—’Bikini Body’ and ‘Drop Two Sizes’—that you want retired. Since our goal is always to pump you up, and never to make you feel bad, here’s our pledge: They’re gone. They’ll no longer appear on Women’s Health covers,” she said in her post.
Here are the two letters she wrote to the now defunct terms in the magazine:
It is a move that we believe deserves praise, because it means the big media publications are willing to listen to the voice of their readers. We live in a time of great excitement in terms of body image in the mainstream media, with women like Tess Holliday, Serena Williams, Ashley Graham, and many others pushing through the barriers to redefine what should be seen as “beautiful”, “healthy”, “successful” and most importantly, “happy”.
With the rise of bloggers, social media and everyday influencers taking a stand against the messages that teach women their bodies aren’t good enough until they spend X amount of dollars to change themselves, to be given permission to love ourselves the way we are marks a very important shift in our demographic.
There are plenty of brands getting on board with this too, but tbh we’ve seen more up-and-coming labels leading the way for body positivity, forcing the bigger names to get on board.
We’ve seen how brands like Abercrombie & Fitch have seen a massive decrease in sales thank to its public declaration that it only wants to sell to a certain type of body (read: thin), meanwhile smaller labels like boutique company SmartGlamour based out of New York, and most notably Carrie Hammer who has made history not once, not twice, but 3 times at New York Fashion Week for choosing real role models to wear her clothing down the runway.
Magazines choosing to use less photoshop and airbrushing in their pages, and dedicate more valuable space to meaningful, positive messages has become a clear result of the rising tide of voices demanding diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance from fashion and beauty media.
Women’s Health making the choice to lead their readers in the right direction when it comes to health is not only admirable, it is the right thing to do.
“The conversation about health, wellness, fitness, and body image is constantly evolving, and we want to make sure we’re delivering the information you crave in a way that inspires you. We’ll be the first to say that we may not always get it right—but we are striving to be the best version of ourselves for you, our readers. In order to do that, your input is essential,” wrote the WH team back in November 2015 when they were beginning to survey their readers to find out what they want going forward.
The moral of the story is this: never, ever, ever give up sharing powerful, positive messages about body image. No one in the history of the world has had success hating themselves toward optimum health and weight. We need to stop telling ourselves that being happy with who we are is wrong. Health comes first from a mindset and, if we have the right tools to help us along the way, such as a major publication telling women that losing weight or trying to look like Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t the only way to achieve it. Here’s to the continuation of a people-powered movement that is demanding body positivity and diversity as the NEW normal.