Why I am suspicious of the health goal

We have talked about health and weight loss and self-acceptance and complacency a LOT this month, and here’s just one more reason why I’m suspicious of saying that “health – not weight loss – is the goal”:

Here’s the latest Women’s Health Magazine. Health is a pretty broad term, right? But you wouldn’t know it looking at this magazine cover.

These are the issues I have with this cover:

1. Four out of the seven cover stories are about weight-loss.

2. Five out of the seven cover stories are about appearance. Of the remaining two, one is about having “hotter sex.” Apparently, our happiness and mental/emotional health is only worth 1/7 of our time and attention, while the rest is about looking good and making sex hotter.

3. Let’s face it. Like many women’s magazines on the stands these days, this one is all about sex, sexuality and sexiness. While there’s nothing wrong with any of those things in the proper context, it’s demeaning to women to be objectified by the media. Do you look at this picture and think the cover model is really healthy? Smart? Happy? Maybe. But if she’s happy, it’s cuz she’s so hot, right? And hot is healthy. Skinny is stress-reducing. Flat abs produce joy! Right?

4. I find one cover story particularly offensive: Eat, Drink & Still Shrink. Healthy, Yummy, Bikini-Friendly Ideas! Really?! I don’t even know where to begin here. Shrink, huh? Shrink. Cuz that’s what health is all about – getting smaller. And to label anything healthy as “bikini-friendly” is reductive, repressive and insulting. So health equals our ability to look sexy in a bikini? Is that the message here?

This is why I’ve been so fanatical about self-acceptance this month. We live in a culture that absolutely does not promote self-acceptance. Period. Have you noticed that even when you lose weight, suddenly, there’s something else to worry about? Teeth that aren’t exactly gleaming white. Jiggly arms that result from major weight loss. Cellulite. Large pores.

Get the picture? Our “health” magazines will always be pointing out ways to improve our appearance, rather than pointing out all the reasons we have for accepting ourselves just the way we are now. Which sounds healthier to you?


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6 thoughts on “Why I am suspicious of the health goal

  1. I wonder what would happen if the models on these covers, were untouched, not photoshopped, and had some jiggle to their bodies, some rolls, pudge, cellulite, stretch marks, you know all the stuff that MOST of us have. Would you buy that magazine?

    I would!! I love being able to RELATE to stuff, pictures, people, health tips, recipes, advice from someone who LOOKS like I do. The only problem with that is, that I don’t want to look like this forever, and then when my body starts to look “skinnier”, because in MY case I would be getting healthier, then would I appreciate a cover like this more?

    I think my issue MORE than the words, even though I agree that the one that says “EAT, DRINK and STILL SHRINK” is totally wrong….. it bothers me SOOO much that all the pics are photoshopped, and retouched to look “perfect”.

    You know Hustler has a magazine dedicated to REAL women, no fake boobies, and such. Men LOVE it, “from what I hear”…. (Ok, I’ve checked it out before, and I like it too) WHY can’t we have magazines, and models that celebrate a body, a picture, a “flaw” just the way it is, if that’s the way it IS, at the moment. I don’t think the magazine would lose any sells if they put a REAL picture of a REAL body on the cover, and talked about REAL ways to live a healthier life, INSIDE, and OUT, AND even gave pointers on how to LOVE yourself, just the way you are RIGHT NOW.

    Keep up the good work Yancy, as always GREAT points!!!

  2. This magazine cover is covered with lies. It tells women that healthy women are skinny, which isn’t necessarily true. Most women are going to have some fat on them–it’s called being fertile. It’s called being a mom. I’m naturally slender, I’m getting healthier all the time, but I have no expectation to look like that model, thank goodness. But when I was younger, I believed these magazines. They are self-esteem killers. I think women buy Women’s Health because they honestly want to improve their health, but then they get pulled into all this skinny business. Ugh. And yeah, what’s the deal with no pants on? LOL

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