You might’ve heard the news that Women’s Health is banning some phrases from their covers that have probably made you want to dunk somebody’s head in a pot of chicken noodle soup before. “Bikini body” and the subtle “drop 2 sizes” will no longer be splattered across the glossy covers of the magazine, Newsweek reports. Pop some premature New Year’s Eve champagne because it’s time to celebrate. Except maybe this isn’t quite the accomplishment we had hoped for.
The Women’s Health ban is definitely a step in a good direction. It’s cool that magazines are even acknowledging that no one should preach about about who can or cannot wear an itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini. Remember that fun little time when those blinding yellow “Are you beach body ready?” ads from Protein World started running people’s lives? Yeah, this is definitely a step up from that unfortunate milestone, and hopefully some other magazines will follow suit to make their wordage more appealing to the masses.
But other than not sparking as much irritation for women in grocery store checkout lines everywhere, will this ban really change things for Women’s Health?
First off, the phrases are just banned from the covers. Editor-in-chief Keller Laird made it very clear in her statement that this was a cover ban and not necessarily something that would transfer to the rest of the pages of Women’s Health. So, it’s not a promise that you won’t see those kind little words ever again, though there does seem to be some real acknowledgment on why the terms should be avoided at all costs. In her “farewell note” to the phrase “bikini body,” Laird said, “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.” Amen and hallelujah to that, but here’s where things get tricky.
The phrases are only half of the problem. The other half is the idea behind those phrases. Naturally, there will still be stories about weight loss in the magazine because the world might stop spinning otherwise (thankfully Laird admits the whole ‘drop two sizes in a month’ gig is insane). But also still happening in Women’s Health: “How to look awesome in a bikini.” A much more uplifting way to spin it than ‘bikini body,’ sure, but the message is still just as problematic. That implies that there is still a certain body type that doesn’t look awesome in a bikini, and we’re not here for that idea. As of yet, there’s no word on whether or not the magazine will be more size inclusive and give us models with curves in some swimsuit editorials (come on, you know we’d love to see more of GabiFresh and Ashley Graham‘s bod in swimsuitsforall), so until we start to see some major change on THAT front, we’ll just be over here counting our other blessings.
We appreciate the effort, we really do. We would send Women’s Health some cake balls for trying. But we’re not sold that this ban will be anything more than an annoyance to writers to find new and creative ways to say, “Hey, put that fork down and get your spring break bod back.” As Laird said in her statement, every body IS a bikini body. If she truly believed that, though, then everybody would look “awesome” in a bikini.