Despite obesity being on the rise in America, one of the country’s top magazines for health and style, Self, recently featured on its cover a plus-sized model who weighs 280 pounds.
In explaining why the magazine chose this route for its latest issue, editor-in-chief Carolyn Kylstra wrote that she wanted to give model Tess Holliday “a platform because she has insightful things to say about thriving in a world that devalues bodies of size.”
“We also chose to feature her because size representation is necessary, especially for a national health media brand that can help guide the conversation about what it means to be healthy and how to make health accessible,” Kylstra argued in a letter posted to Instagram.
She also maintained that someone’s healthiness cannot be discerned “just by looking at them.”
We’re thrilled to share our first ever digital cover, featuring model, author, and fat-positivity activist Tess Holliday (@tessholliday). From editor-in-chief @carolynkylstra’s editor’s letter: “Holliday identifies as a fat woman; we chose to give her a platform because she has insightful things to say about thriving in a world that devalues bodies of size. We also chose to feature her because size representation is necessary, especially for a national health media brand that can help guide the conversation about what it means to be healthy and how to make health accessible. You don’t know how healthy or unhealthy a person is just by looking at them, you don’t know what their health goals and priorities are, and you don’t know what they’ve already done or are planning to do for their health going forward. And moreover, you should know that concern trolling—using a person’s perceived health to justify making them feel bad about themselves—isn’t just counterproductive, it’s abusive.” Tap the link in bio to read the rest of the letter. — Photographer: @catherineservel, Wardrobe Styling: @marpeidro, Hair: @christianmarc at @forwardartists using @randco, Makeup: @kristinhilton at @thewallgroup, Manicure: @nailsbyemikudo at @opusbeauty | #TeamSELF
While the post received over 13,000 likes and plenty of comments from those supportive of the magazine’s agenda — which appears to be to make concerns about size and weight a thing of the past — it also inspired complaints about its negative influence on society.
“Obesity is NOT HEALTHY! this is a Scientific FACT! Heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver (heart), kidneys, gall bladder….is it really necessary to explain?” one Instagram user wrote, adding that, just like anorexia and bulimia, obesity is a health condition that shouldn’t be promoted.
The user was technically right.
As noted by Stanford Health Care, “Obesity is a serious, chronic disease that can have a negative effect on many systems in your body. People who are overweight or obese have a much greater risk of developing serious conditions.”
This is a fact. What’s also a fact is that, according to a recently publicized study by the U.K.’s University of East Anglia, efforts by activists and the media to promote plus-size lifestyles has caused Brits to underestimate their weight and thus take proper care of their health.
“While this type of body-positive movement helps reduce stigmatization of larger-sized bodies, it can potentially undermine the recognition of being overweight and its health consequences,” lead researcher Dr. Raya Muttarak said.
But critics of this line of thinking argue that being large doesn’t always mean being unhealthy.
Our first-ever digital cover star Tess Holliday (@tessholliday) wants you to save your concern about her health. “I try to tell people all the time you can’t judge other people and what they’re doing with their bodies,” she says. Holliday is using her personal body acceptance revolution to help us change the way we think about weight and health. Tap the link in bio to read @smashfizzle’s interview with Holliday for our cover story. —— Photographer: @catherineservel, Wardrobe Styling: @marpeidro, Hair: @christianmarc at @forwardartists using @randco, Makeup: @kristinhilton at @thewallgroup, Manicure: @nailsbyemikudo at @opusbeauty | #TeamSELF
“Thank you @selfmagazine for showing the world a range of health bodies — and encouraging people to look at the many important factors that make up a well human,” another Instagram user wrote.
Is this true? It depends on who you ask. Some researchers cite the existence of “metabolically healthy obesity,” a state wherein those who are obese somehow avoid the usual pitfalls of being plus-sized.
Yet others claim these cases represent anomalies — and that it’s simply “not possible to be ‘fat and fit,'” as one set of researchers put it.
What’s clear is that this debate won’t be resolved anytime soon, particularly in this day and age of political correctness.