National Eating Disorders Association

How Can Websites and Magazines Get Body Positive?

Madison DeHaven

It's probably no surprise that major magazines talk about the body and appearance very often. Fashion and beauty definitely have their place as art forms and means of self-expression, so in no way do I think our freedom to explore different styles should be taken away. 

Sometimes, doing my makeup in the morning is the only thing that calms me down on stressful days. Experimenting with my fashion choices has opened up a whole new realm of body positivity and personal style for me as well. 

But how can we continue talking about fashion and beauty without encouraging the notion that we all must look a certain cookie-cutter way? Here are three ways magazines and websites can promote body positivity: 

1. Represent all types of bodies.

Magazines often fail to show people a wide variety of body types, skin colors, hair textures, abilities, etc. The norm is still thin with glossy hair and hairless limbs for women, and tall and muscular for men. I love that magazines like Seventeen are choosing to highlight people challenging beauty and fitness standards, but they should also be making more efforts to challenge those standards themselves! Displaying different types of bodies and features, not just on the covers of magazines, but in articles as well, can help show readers that there isn't just one way to have a body. 

2. Inspire healthy relationships with our bodies.

Fitness and nutrition are key to a happy, healthy life—to an extent. Fitness should be about how you feel in your body. It should be about feeling more energized and strong. If you're into sports, it should help you in your performance. It should not be about shape. Oftentimes, magazines have the right idea, about getting creative when trying to stay active, but they also encourage the idea that we need to "slim down" for summer. Fitness articles should toss out phrases that focus on shape and appearance and instead bring attention how exercise will make you feel. 

Along the same lines, food articles should emphasize health and eating nutritiously. Nutrition is about making sure the body is getting the fuel it needs to function and, like fitness, make you feel your best.

3. Make sure the body isn't getting all the attention.

As I mentioned earlier, fashion and beauty have their places. However, including wider varieties of interests in websites and magazines can give us all a break from thinking about our appearances. It also makes these communities more inclusive for people who just aren't into typical “girly” or “manly” things. HelloGiggles includes tabs for news and work life, keeping the site well-rounded as well as fashionable. Rookie allows readers to submit their own artwork and stories, sharing aspects of different walks of life along with clever comics and illustrations. 

Do you think the media is doing enough to inspire body positivity? What else needs to be addressed or changed?

Madison is a junior studying nutrition at Arizona State University with a minor in exercise & wellness. She plans on working in the field of eating disorders as a registered dietitian and hopes to inspire body positivity wherever her future career takes her.