One of my student workers was kind enough to tell me that she enjoys reading this blog because she is also trying to lead a healthier way of life. She spoke about how she defines herself as “skinny fat”, a term I’ve heard a lot of lately. I can understand the frustrations of not feeling healthy in your body, so we chatted briefly about the subject.
This skinny fat phenomenon is defined as an individual who has a slender build but is not toned and has a high amount of body fat for their smaller frame. Or as my student worker describes it, “I look fine while fully clothed (with small arms, legs, and neck), but I have a muffin top and I won’t be showing my body off in a bathing suit anytime soon.” I think of it as those “before” and “after” ads where they showcase a naturally slender or athletic male or female with some extra body fat, and then the perfect super fit results after using a certain product.
I strongly dislike those infomercials with obviously staged before and after photos and find them quite misleading. I believe these ads are similar to “skinny plus sized” models. It must be quite easy to showcase a perfect “after” body when the out of shape “skinny fat” body has the socially acceptable attractive proportions and underlining potential for total fitness. Though plus sized models may not be considered “skinny fat” because of their toned bodies, it is very similar in model land. You never, or rarely, see a model above a size 12 or 14, shorter than 5’10”, without a perfectly toned and blemish free body. It’s similar to a six foot size zero model being featured in an ad instead of a popular size 8. The way (most) advertisements display both men and women is one of the many ways media feeds our body image struggles. I’m not saying make all models larger and more in line with average body type, but mix up the pot a bit!
If anyone is mixing up the pot these days, Debenhams is cooking up some socially inclusive soup! I do feel that more and more companies are using diverse and realistic models for their ads and getting the recognition they deserve. The Debenham Lookbook that includes beautiful models of all sizes, races, ages, and body types and the Sweden based H&M’s recent advertisement spread pleases me to no end. Oddly enough, they are both International companies. (Isn’t America the one who gets a bad wrap for being large and in charge??) There is an ongoing fight for body acceptance at any shape or size, one I’ve been fighting for my whole life, and one day it would be nice to see the fight end and everybody just get along!
But I digress. Back to the subject at hand.
The “skinny fat” phenomenon is important to be aware of for naturally slender individuals. It’s crucial to keep an eye on body fat and your overall health at any body size. There are plenty of unhealthy skinny people out there as well as healthy overweight individuals. This is why am a firm believer in Body Fat % versus Body Mass Index. I will always be defined as Overweight in the BMI category, even at my goal weight, but my current 32% Body Fat is actually in the high “average” range (on more detailed charts) but falls into “obese” on other charts (not taking height and age into account). I just take this discrepancy as just another reminder that I am above average in every way. : )