When skinny doesn't necessarily mean healthy

Too often we assume skinny women have it all together. However, thinness does not always equal health — or happiness.

When skinny doesn't necessarily mean healthy

Too often we assume skinny women have it all together. However, thinness does not always equal health — or happiness.
  • We live in a society that has a lot to say about the state of women's bodies. In a world where we're taught to hate our noses, our eyes, our thighs, our chests, our stomachs, and basically every other part visible to onlookers, one ideal remains — thin is beautiful.

  • We glorify thinness, and we've shown with our spending that we're willing to do just about anything to get and stay svelte. Each time we buy diet foods or gym memberships, we're showing that we value skinny frames, and oftentimes we accept that thinness equals health.

  • The health versus size conundrum

  • Very few people will overtly admit that they exercise and deprive themselves of foods to look thin. While we're all expected to look thin, there is also a social taboo against striving to look our absolute smallest. To get around that conundrum, we defer to health. We work out to get healthy, and we go on some seriously crazy diets to get healthy. Or, so we say.

  • It's reached the point where we believe our quest to achieve thinness really is healthy. Except that oftentimes, it's not. Thinness does not equal health the same way that thinness also doesn't equal beauty. It's possible for women to look thin and still have horrible health. By conflating thinness with health, we've actually put ourselves in jeopardy.

  • The true origins of health

  • In reality, overall health has little to do with an arbitrary number on the scale. A myriad of factors determine our health, and weight is only a small part of the equation. Healthy is strength and balance. Health is emotional consistency and fostering strong relationships. Health has much more to do with our overall satisfaction in life than our weight.

  • Unfortunately, when we fixate on thinness, we lose sight of how to maintain real, lasting health. American women become so incredibly neurotic about weight that they miss out on the joy that true health affords. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional sweet treat or choosing physical activity that makes us happy. When we live our lives in service to the almighty scale, we've lost our sense of self, the one factor that lends us true beauty.

  • Healthy at any size

  • It's possible to be thin and healthy. However, we have to stop looking at thin women and assuming all is well underneath their facade. Skinny women still have problems. They have insecurities, health issues, and bad habits and achieving thinness is not a guarantee of happiness.

  • We need to broaden our definition of health and beauty. Women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful, regardless of what the Photo shopping media leads us to believe. There is true beauty beyond a size four, and when we recognize the beauty in those around us, we're more likely to see the beauty in ourselves.

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  • Women, we need to take care of ourselves not because we're trying to meet some inconsequential standard of beauty, but because we love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. We are worth every bite of good food and every minute of physical activity because we deserve to lead long, healthy lives.

  • We may not change the way the world views feminine beauty all at once, but we can affect change in our own sphere of influence. Stop assuming skinny women have it all together, and don't feel sorry for the voluptuous women. Neither condition predicts or precludes health. Rather, see all women for their passion, creativity and intelligence. In the end, that's all that really matters.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.


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