It’s the first day of a brand new year, and the folks at Women’s Health magazine are kicking things off with a bang. The magazine announced this week that they’re doing away with the term “bikini body” after readers pretty much unanimously agreed they’re sick and tired of hearing it.
In a post on the Women’s Health website, Editor In Chief Amy Keller Laird revealed the results of a recent survey regarding what readers do and don’t like seeing on their magazine covers. Readers overwhelmingly responded that they’re fed up with reading articles that contain the words “shrink,” “diet,” “bikini body,” and anything that promises to magically help them “drop two sizes.”
Laird says her editorial team already spent 2015 removing “shrink” and “diet” from the Women’s Health lexicon, but promised that the other terms would be the next to go. “Bikini body” and “drop two sizes” will never appear on a cover of the magazine again, Laird said, and she even wrote the banned terms break-up letters to say goodbye. For “bikini body,” she wrote:
“Dear Bikini Body,
You’re actually a misnomer, not to mention an unintentional insult: You imply that a body must be a certain size in order to wear a two-piece. Any body—every body—is a bikini body. You’ve got a shaming, negative undertone that’s become more than annoying… When one reader said, “I hate how women’s magazines emphasize being skinny or wearing bikinis as the reason to be healthy,” it became so clear: We never want to be that type of women’s magazine. So, “Bikini Body,” see ya. Wouldn’t wanna be ya.”
She followed that up with a letter to “drop two sizes,” in which she wrote, “It’s true that many of us are looking to drop a few pounds… but two sizes in one month? Not super practical, or even all that healthy.” She finished up by telling the term to move on to “some other magazine’s cover” because Women’s Health is “no longer your girl.”
It’s kind of a silly exercise, but man, do I wish this would catch on everywhere. It’s so tiring picking up magazine after magazine and reading about crash diets and how to starve yourself into a teeny-tiny bikini. Sure, maybe they’ll just feature the same articles using different terms, but I hope this is a sign of actual progress, because when it comes to how we talk about women’s bodies, we desperately need to make some damn progress.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be fit and healthy. There is something wrong when we start equating fit and healthy with only super-toned models and fitting into the smallest clothing size possible. When we constantly have terms like “bikini body” thrown in our faces, it’s hard not to start believing that our value and well-being is directly related to our ability to look hot at the pool or possess a certain — usually unattainable — body type.
Dropping these terms might not end our toxic relationships with thinness and the negative ways we judge our bodies, but it’s a baby step in the right direction. I will gladly pick up any magazine that doesn’t force me to read yet another article about cleansing my way into a swimsuit.