It should go without saying at this point, but there’s no such thing as a “beach body.” However, publications are still writing articles about how to get them — except now, readers are pushing back. That’s what happened when Harper’s Bazaar posted this photo on Facebook along with a link to an article about transforming your body in only two weeks.
In the photo, a woman emerges from the water wearing a bikini. While we can’t comment on the woman’s health or body, the image definitely promotes a standard of beauty that, for many of us, just isn’t attainable.
The comments are filled with readers lamenting this poor choice of photo, and discussing what is and isn’t okay when it comes to talking about health and fitness.
“I don’t think the issue is with this model personally. She may very well be that thin naturally, and that’s her body and she shouldn’t be shamed for it,” one commenter wrote. “However I think the issue most people are having is that using this particular physique for an article clearly aimed towards weight loss and exercise is only aiding in providing girls and women with unrealistic body goals.”
It’s a difficult line to walk. While the model shouldn’t be shamed for her body, this image also shouldn’t be used as the universal shape all women should aspire to. It’s also, one commenter points out, extremely dangerous to flood younger readers with these images.
“I can’t believe Harper’s Bazaar posted this!” the wrote. “My little sister has [an eating disorder] and its because of images like this. She thinks she has to starve herself to be beautiful because that’s what she sees posted on a daily basis as beauty.”
We hope this experience teaches all of us — whether we work in the media or not —that fitness is not one size fits all. There are more ways to “transform” your body than squeezing it into a narrow standard of beauty.