By Heidi Stevens
Dear Women’s Health Magazine:
Help me out.
I’m trying to raise a daughter who doesn’t hate her body. Who, in fact, will continue for many years to appreciate and enjoy her body for all the things it lets her do, run, flip, dance, play Twister.
This is why I don’t subscribe to women’s magazines. I flip through them at work, where I receive several each month, but I’m quickly put off by the scolding disguised as tips, the gleeful cataloging of my flaws (followed by the aggressive pitching of products to fix them), the one single body type that graces each and every page.
So I make sure they don’t come anywhere near my daughter, who at 9 is still thrilled to put on a swimsuit.
Women’s Health, for some reason, started arriving at my house in January. I never subscribed, but somehow I landed on your mailing list. Which is why I’m writing to you.
With “Health” in your title and a handful of legitimately instructive pieces (“A twisted truth,” about the alarming rise in colon cancer among young women, was eye-opening in the April issue), you have an opportunity to change the conversation about women and our bodies.
You have a chance to upend the assumption that women want, universally, above all else, to lose weight. That being fit equals tiny.
That cravings are weakness. That calories are the devil’s handiwork.
So here’s my idea: What if, when you’re assigning stories and writing headlines and hiring models, you imagine a healthy, joyful, impressionable 9-year-old girl reading your magazine? Let’s look at April, for starters.
Would you still instruct readers to tap their foreheads methodically for 30 seconds to avoid giving into a potato chip craving? (Page 27)
Would you still sell your 15-minute workout with a “Turbocharge your slim-down” banger? (Page 58)