Cosmopolitan have featured plus-sized supermodel Tess Holliday on their cover, and people around the world are losing their s**t.
Is it glorifying obesity?
Are they promoting an unhealthy lifestyle?
Is it sending women the wrong message about body image?
Today, I’m going to break things down and give you my take on the Tess Holliday Cosmo situation.
Besides being a very clever marketing tactic to boost sales in a marketplace where fewer people than ever are paying for magazines (they’re one of the few who still report year on year growth, by the way, so it works), I don’t see a problem here from a fitness perspective.
Sure, Tess Holliday isn’t in great physical shape.
But where is she claiming to be?
If Cosmopolitan were stating that obesity is healthy, or including a BS plan to “Get obese in 30 days!” then I’d be all over this like a fly on s**t.
But they’re not.
In fact, it isn’t even a fitness related article!
So are we saying that overweight people are no longer allowed to be on the cover of magazines because you are physically disgusted by the sight of them?
What we have here is a woman who’s confident in her body. She hasn’t had the easiest of upbringings (as discussed in the article) but has learned how to accept herself and be happy with who she is.
Only to be met with a chorus of boos and remarks about her not being good enough to be on the cover of a magazine, from people who are no doubt far more insecure than her.
You can’t flip flop between telling the media to “Stop pressurizing young women to be perfect! Accept them for who they are!”, and “She’s fat! Get her off the cover!”
So the next time you want to discredit somebody for how they look, I recommend you take a good look in the mirror, my friend, and give yourself a thumbs down.
What About This Advert?
A few years ago, this advert was released in the UK.
It’s by a supplement manufacturer called Protein World, and it was promptly banned after lots of complaints were received due to it’s body shaming nature.
When I posted my thoughts about Cosmopolitan and Tess Holliday on my Twitter feed, one of the best comments I received was:
“What about the Protein World advert that got banned for fat shaming? Isn’t this double standards?”
But there’s a difference.
Most people are aware of fat shaming and the damages it can cause (i.e. making people feel worthless for not looking perfect). It’s something that’s been happening to women in the media for years, and there are a growing number of instances of it happening to men, too.
But most people are unaware of the other end of the body shaming spectrum, where we have fit shaming.
Fit shaming is a legitimate thing, and it sucks just as much as fat shaming.
Ever seen an in-shape celebrity get slammed as bad mother because she “probably has nannies raise her kids while she works out all day”?
Maybe you’ve got an annoying family member who labels you a “fitness freak”, or calls you “obsessed”? Or how about that family member who rolls their eyes into eternity just because you choose to spend your Friday nights at a different kid of bar?
These are all quick examples of fit shaming.
Making someone feel socially awkward just because they choose to stay in shape is no different than calling someone names because they’re overweight.
Basically, stop being a d**k.
Anyway, if the advert from Protein World was quickly banned for fat shaming, surely this magazine cover should also be banned for promoting a negative body image as being healthy?
The reason Protein World had their advert banned is because:
- It legitimately caused offence by implying that unless you look like a model you’re not ‘beach body ready.’
- They sell diet supplements.
Combine the two and you have a recipe for an eating disorder.
Tess Holliday on the cover of Cosmopolitan does neither of those things.
Heck, Cosmopolitan isn’t even a fitness magazine.
It’s a lifestyle/fashion magazine, and the article itself bears no relevance to Tess Holliday’s fitness, nor does it promote the idea that being obese is healthy. It’s an article about her life.
In an age where we’ve spent so much time trying to empower women, and to encourage our youngsters to accept themselves for who they are, it makes no sense to socially bully someone just because they don’t fit a stereotype.
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