Kit Steinkellner
July 17, 2015 9:37 am

Fitness magazines have been slow to recognize that fitness lovers come in all shapes and sizes. That’s why it was such a welcome surprise this month when we opened our mailboxes to see that the latest issue of the magazine Women’s Running features a plus-size model on the cover.

Even the model herself, 18-year-old Erica Schenk, was pleasantly surprised.

“I had no idea I was going to be on the cover! I was told afterwards [after her photo shoot] that I would be on the cover,” Erica told E! News. “I was initially stunned. I thought it would be a big deal but it turned out to be a MUCH bigger deal than I thought it would be!”

Featuring Schenk was a very conscious choice on the part of the magazine to expand the definition of what it means to be a runner, and, for that matter, what it means to be fit.

As Women’s Running editor Jessica Sebor told Today, “There’s a stereotype that all runners are skinny, and that’s just not the case. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. You can go to any race finish line, from a 5K to a marathon, and see that. It was important for us to celebrate that.”

It was important to Sebor not just to celebrate the body diversity of the running community, but to make sure that all women who take a peek at the covers of their magazine feel welcome and included.

“I think that every woman goes to the magazine rack sometimes and feels like she can’t see herself in the cover images,” Sebor told Today. “We wanted our readers to feel like they could see themselves in our cover.”

Model Schenk is also optimistic about the impact she as a model is poised to make with this cover.

“I love how the image shows a thick-thighed woman who is proud of her body,” Schenk told E! News. “I’m not wearing loose-fitting clothes, to say the least. At first it made me a bit uncomfortable but then I had to realize I can’t help other women accept who they are without doing the same for myself.”

She celebrated the cover via her Instagram:

Three cheers for Women’s Running for doing its part to shake up the news rack and make the world of magazine covers a more inclusive and beautiful place.

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Plus-size model Jennie Runk says we need to stop obsessing about size

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