April Flores for Bizarre Magazine
I used to pore over women's health magazines, certain that reading them would inspire me to be healthier. Recently, though, I learned that so-called health magazines aren't so good for us afterall: They perpetuate negative body image ideals and insist that a woman will never be good enough until she's thin, inspiring crash diets and self-loathing.
Now, I do indulge in magazines (what girl doesn't?) but I'm far more discerning than I used to be. In place of reaching for Self or Shape, I explore the Health at Every Size community online or read feminist publications like Bitch and Bust. Better quality material and it makes me feel good about myself. I love fashion magazines too, but take their "health" tips with a grain of salt.
Rather than reading about ways to be skinny, I actively work at being healthy by going for walks, preparing nutritious snacks or practicing yoga.
I recognize that skinny is not necessarily healthy and healthy is not necessarily skinny, just like fat is not necessarily unhealthy and unhealthy is not necessarily fat.
I acknowledge that my body type (voluptuous, full-figured) was highly sought-after throughout history-- a larger figure meant a woman was well-off enough to eat lavishly and her curves were considered beautiful. In the past 60 years or so, slender has been considered most attractive. Society's tastes change in cycles. One day curvy will be in again and thin will be out. We just have to ignore trends and embrace the body we have.
Lastly, I remind myself over and over again that I am beautiful and I deserve to be healthy-- emotionally and physically.
And so do you.