No, it is not glorifying obesity. Yes, obesity is an issue, but having an image of a fat person on a front cover is not going to make the general public turn around and think “oh! I should probably gain 100 pounds then”. Fatness is not celebrated in the same way that thinness is. Suddenly seeing more larger bodies in the media is not going to cause a sudden insurgence of people wanting to gain weight in the same way that seeing the glamorisation of thin people makes people want to lose weight. The two just aren’t the same.
The backlash caused by the front cover exactly proves this point. The outrage and the audacity of someone in a larger body to want to wear a skin tight swimsuit, to show their thighs and even, god forbid, blow a kiss to the camera? People’s reactions to the shoot show exactly why we need more bodies like this in mainstream media. People aren’t used to it, and we all know that people LOVE marginalised people or things suddenly getting allowed air time…
Yes, obesity is an issue with some health risks. Yet so is being underweight, doing drugs, drinking alcohol and over-exercising. However, these are the accepted forms abusing your body (for lack of a better term) and they’re plastered around TV shows, and this hasn’t seemed to kick up as much of a fuss. Why? Because society is intrinsically fatphobic, and those people screaming on twitter “but what about her arteries! it’s not heaaaaaaaaalthy!” don’t give a shit about her health. It’s a scapegoat for “I don’t like this”. We’re trained to think it is ugly, and therefore unacceptable.
Diets don’t work, we know this. Any study will show you that of you go on a diet, you are about way more likely (like 80% more likely) to gain the weight back, and then some, than actually keep it off. It is hard to lose weight and even harder to keep it off. So saying terrible things, genuine actual abuse, to those that are overweight will not suddenly solve Britain’s obesity crisis. Neither will saying: “they’re just lazy and make excuses”, but thanks for that Kevin. Instead, it can be physiologically damaging and way more harmful than just seeing a bigger body and – wait for it – shutting the fuck up.
Instead what the cover does is make those people in larger bodies feel more comfortable in themselves, to know that it’s alright to get in a swimsuit, and hopefully the more of these covers we see, the more accepting we will be. Accepting doesn’t mean obesity isn’t going to rise suddenly, it doesn’t mean kids are going to aspire to be 300 pounds, and it isn’t encouraging people to be fat. It is giving confidence to those who are outside of society’s accepted body shape and giving them a platform to be seen, and not be ashamed.