I am so thankful I only caught the tail-end of the “skinny = pretty” era. In middle school, low (and extra low) rise jeans and skin-tight shirts were the only things the “popular” girls wore, complete with Ugg boots and straightened hair. Thankfully, these trends rolled out with the end of the “aughts” and in rolled a new trend came blowing in – fitness. With this came a revival of athleisure, high-end exercise clothing à la lululemon. While many media outlets now featured thin athletic women instead of skinny runway models, there were also body-positive campaigns run by companies like Dove and Aerie. Though these small changes did not revolutionize the subjects in ad campaigns, the new message was “a natural, healthy you is a beautiful you.”
What these campaigns failed to recognize is that healthy is not limited to size 4 white women in a pair of $100 leggings. Healthy is determined by what you put in your body, what you do with your body, and how you feel about your body. It has nothing to do with the shape of your body. Diet and exercise are of course a big part of a healthy lifestyle, but so is self-confidence and self-love. With the holiday season around the corner, many people start mentioning the “holiday weight” and their subsequent resolutions to lose it – don’t abstain from seasonal treats or wallow in guilt when you indulge. You deserve something that makes your soul happy and healthy. On the flip side, be aware of offhand comments made to those who might be struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder or other body image issues. Help them achieve their best health by being a supportive and understanding friend. Watch out for yourself, your friends, and your family to make sure everyone is utilizing a body-positive definition of healthy. After all, the most beautiful woman in a room is the one who glows with confidence, knowing that she loves her body exactly as it is.