This past year, there has been much debate in the media regarding plus-size women and the health of their bodies. In December of 2015, a study was released which suggested a linkage between ads depicting plus-size women and “unhealthy behavior.” When plus size model Ashley Graham was featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, former bathing suit mega-babe Cheryl Tiegs sounded off about Ashley’s “unhealthy” body.
However, when Women’s Running sat down with Danielle Brooks last month, she had a refreshing point of view on the health of her plus-size body, which we loved. “I am a woman who takes health very seriously and [I am] trying to live the most beautiful life that I can,” she says. “I just went to my doctor, and they said my blood pressure is great, and I’m very healthy. If at any moment that changes, I’ll work on that.”
So what does that mean for ongoing debate across social media and various outlets regarding plus-size women who want to be active and healthy, and viewed as such?
You are in charge of your body and your health—no one else is. Your weight is one dimension of information that a medical expert might use to determine your overall health, but it’s not the only factor that defines whether or not your body is healthy.
Many people, whether they’re plus-size, or thin, or somewhere in between, have health issues that they’re working on. Some are trying to lose weight, or trying to improve their blood pressure, or changing the levels of different nutrients, such as iron, they have in their diet. On the other side, some people live perfectly healthy lives, yet they still encounter major health crises like cancer. Others smoke, drink, eat greasy food and are able to maintain a “healthy” weight and avoid disease or medical setbacks. Some people that might be referred to as “skinny” are actually very unhealthy, and some people that might be referred to as “plus-size” actually live incredibly healthy lifestyles. However, none of that, including other peoples’ opinions or society’s body labels, can determine how healthy you are. You get to decide, by making choices about how you fuel and take care of your body, and by showing your body love through movement through exercise.
In the past, a shortage of appropriate, stylish workout attire was a major barrier for plus-size women to overcome in order to feel confident and comfortable while exercising. However, brands, such as Simply Be, are removing this barrier by offering a plethora of comfortable, well-designed and stylish options for plus-size bodies in motion! This past July, they took to social media to challenge women to #SimplyBeActive, and other brands have executed similar campaigns.
What society and outlets dish out to active women can play a major role in how they view their own body and what’s “acceptable” or “expected” for a healthy person. Whether or not you choose to live a healthy lifestyle, or if you choose to listen to all the hype around looking like a supermodel, is completely up to you. However, never let another person ever tell you what you can or cannot achieve with your body. That’s why it’s YOUR body.