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July 15, 2023

Healthy Over Skinny

I grew up in the 90s, a time when “heroin chic” was all the rage. Waif-like models were shown in ads. Ultra-skinny was the goal.

In 1995, weighing 190 pounds, I decided to take an interest in how I ate and exercised and, as a consequence, I lost weight. But, I took it too far, weighing in at about 100 pounds at my lightest and surviving on Jell-o and lettuce. I could barely walk to my classes across the UF campus without feeling dizzy. I had achieved the coveted “skinny,” but it didn’t make me happy - or healthy.

Luckily, today, many body types are celebrated. But, there is still the thought that skinny is better.

Consider these modern-day trends:

  • There’s the thigh gap trend, which is young girls wanting space between their thighs.
  • Filters and apps like Phototune allow people to slim themselves down and cover “flaws” before posting to social media.
  • #almondmom is a hashtag that refers to mothers deflecting their own body image issues onto their daughters. (It was created after an episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills when a mother told her very thin, supermodel daughter, who wasn’t feeling well, to eat an almond.)
  • While diabetes/weight loss shots, like Ozempic, are helping some people, even slender people are taking them, all in the name of thinness. Celebrities are talking about it like it’s a badge of honor.

Popular culture is wild!

No doubt it’s beneficial to maintain a healthy body weight. Roughly two out of three Americans are overweight or obese, which is an epic problem. But, instead of an emphasis on thin, why aren’t we obsessed with being as healthy as we can be?

As I’ve written before, scale weight - and even BMI - don’t tell the whole story. If you’re withholding food to stay thin or doing hours of cardio to stay skinny, you may not actually be healthy.

According to, a genetic analysis of more than 75,000 people found that lean people with a specific genetic variant had a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease despite their lower body fat.

Those who lack muscle can also have low bone density, high cholesterol or blood pressure, or be prediabetic.

Even bodybuilders and figure competitors, who achieve single-digit body fat, are starving and depleted and far from healthy when they step on stage.

Again, skinny doesn’t always equal healthy.

Personally, I’d rather see a little extra “cushion” on a person who is comfortable in his or her own skin, who works out regularly, is physically strong, and has a healthy relationship with food and alcohol.

My intent with this article is not to body shame. It’s to challenge perceptions. Each of our bodies is unique and amazing. And we should love ours.

Let’s make “healthy” the new “skinny!” And PS: Healthy looks good!

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