The fashion industry has long been criticized for undermining the confidence and health of women by projecting an unattainable ideal of beauty that is based on thinness and Photoshop.

Recently, it has been suggested that by representing the plus-sized consumer, the fashion industry is normalizing obesity, a condition as unhealthy and extreme as being “model thin” can be.

Beautifully healthy

When we step off the scale and back away from the photo editing software, one thing remains that represents true beauty—health. It’s a quality that can come in women of nearly all sizes, which is one reason many modeling agencies are now hiring more women whose beauty isn’t size-based. The fashion industry is including diverse models to reflect the healthy modern consumer. And good health cannot be judged by weight alone. Consider the thin smoker, or the fact that muscle weighs more than fat.

"Good health cannot be judged by weight alone. Consider the thin smoker, or the fact that muscle weighs more than fat."

“In the same way that it’s not healthy to starve yourself thin, it’s unhealthy to slip into complacency by not taking care of yourself,” said plus-industry spokesperson and former model Alexandra Boos. “What people should be striving toward—more than a particular dress size or a certain number on a scale—is good health.”

That means eating nutritiously and staying active, no matter your size. It means having blood work analyzed annually to ensure that sugar and hormone levels remain normal. It means getting plenty of water and sleep.

Embracing you

Full-figured model Danielle Braverman, who used to be a traditional model, stopped fighting her natural, curvy shape in favor of living a healthy life.

“I feel better than ever—better than I ever felt as a ‘straight-size’ model,” she said. “My mind is clear, my body is strong and healthy, and I’m finally proud of who I am. The inner happiness carries through to photographs and makes me a much better model.” 

The fashion industry is beginning to embrace the idea of non-traditional beauty by supporting a wider range of sizes. By promoting diverse beauty, the media and the fashion industry are making strides toward showing how every woman can be beautiful if she takes proper care of herself.