Cosmopolitan UK caused outrage when they featured plus – size model, Tess Holliday. It sparked condemnation both within and outside the UK, with journalist, Pierce Morgan and Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi using social media to criticise the women’s magazine.
How is this any better than having a severely underweight girl on a magazine cover? Just a cheap Cosmo publicity stunt. pic.twitter.com/5CZE5kIhUn
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) August 30, 2018
According to The Sun, the model is 5 ft 5 (165.1 cm) and 20 stone and 6 pounds (approximately 131.8 kg). This makes Holliday clinically obese.
That is not healthy, no matter how you sugar coat it (no pun intended).
It’s no secret that being overweight affects a person’s health. It can cause heart disease, put a person at higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes and increases a person’s risk of other diseases.
In women in particular, being overweight or obese can impact fertility. Being overweight can cause Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which can throw the menstrual cycle out of whack. Some damage can be reversed by losing even a small amount of weight.
Over the years, there has been an understandable backlash against media and modeling industries for creating unhealthy ideals and expectations put on the public and models. In 2015, Vogue US reported that former model Charli Howard used Facebook to compose an open letter attacking her former agency for unrealistic expectations on both male and female models.
Things are also changing at the top level. Some governments in Europe have legislated standards that the modelling and media industries have to abide by. Last year in France, a law was introduced for modelling agencies to require potential models provide a medical certificate proving that they are healthy, including at a healthy weight using the Body Mass Index (BMI). Magazines are also required to notify the readers when a photo has been altered. Similar legislation has been introduced in Spain and Italy (minus the BMI requirements).
Some models and modelling agencies are making positive moves and starting to promote body diversity. According to National Eating Disorders Foundation, models and fashion shows, such as New York Fashion Week are starting to encourage agencies promote health and diversity in their models.
More models have also hit back at agencies and events that demand unhealthy ideals. Arna Yr Jonsdottir, who was crowned Miss Iceland, openly condemned the pageant on social media after she was told to lose weight in order to make it in the competition. She refuted the requests by claiming in English that her body was already ‘perfect’.
So, is there even any need for ‘body positivity’ anymore? Even though a lot has happened, I’d still say ‘yes’. There’ll probably always will be. But people turning a blind eye to the health detriments of being overweight or obese is not the way to go. Only promoting physical health, mental health, and self – love will do that. That includes getting real about one’s weight and the health problems that are heightened because of it will do that.
If you have any concerns about you or your loved ones in regard to eating disorders, you can contact Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673 for referrals and brief counselling sessions.
For those from overseas, you know what you can do. Drop any links or contact information about eating disorder or counselling services in your country/ area.