Healthy is the New Skinny
What began as a simple blog back in 2011 has flourished into a brand, movement and social media platform dubbed one of the top platforms for body positivity. This inspiring movement focuses on health and wellness to oppose society’s seeming obsession with female bodies being a specific size. The movement strives to teach young girls and women alike to switch the focus away from being “skinny” to having a healthy body.
At the beginning of this year, Healthy is the New Skinny founder Katie Willcox released her book, Healthy is the New Skinny—Your Guide to Self-Love in a “Picture Perfect” World. In this book, she discusses her own journey to self-love. Willcox teaches women through her book how to examine why we feel the way we do about our bodies and how to switch the focus to being healthy, loving ourselves and redefining our idea of beauty.
Today, Willcox travels all over the country spreading this message through public appearances and speeches. FINE Magazine spoke with Katie Willcox about her blog, book and goals for the future.
Start by describing the “healthy is the new skinny” movement.
[This] is a social media movement that encourages girls to think consciously about the media messaging they are exposed to and challenge the beauty ideal so that they can live an authentic and healthy life—mind, body and soul.
What was your inspiration for starting the Healthy is the New Skinny movement?
I was inspired through my years of experience as a model in the fashion industry. The messages we all receive is that skinny is better, and it leaves the majority of women feeling that to be valued or lovable, we must look how the media says we should. That thought process leads so many of us down an unhealthy road where we don’t value ourselves or our health, we only seek to perfect our bodies and be validated by others.
I experienced this myself [through] being every size from a 14 to a 6 and everything in between. It wasn’t until I started to value myself and my health that I realized how damaging the media’s focus on female beauty is to our society.
How has creating this movement influenced the way you will raise your daughter?
It’s all about consciousness. The more aware I am of the way I have been taught to think about my body, the more conscious I am in my efforts to protect my daughter from that type of negative influence. More than anything, the way I treat my body and speak about my body will be the greatest influence on [my daughter] True and how she grows up thinking and feeling about her own [daughters]. That being said, I will work extra hard to create a positive and healthy environment in our home where she knows she is loved and accepted, always, no matter what. If the Healthy is the New Skinny movement has taught me one thing, it’s that every person wants to be accepted and loved for who they are.
What tip would you give to young girls to help them remain body positive in a world that frequently tells them not to be?
We have to educate young women on how they are being manipulated to think that beauty is their source of value in the world. The beauty ideal is extremely limiting, and in our culture, it has become increasingly harmful to girls and women. There are so many women in this world that embody talent, intelligence, compassion and love. However, our society continues to suffer as a whole because of the high number of women who feel unworthy because they don’t look how they are told they should. This creates a system of inequality and imbalance in our culture.
We need balance between men and women. As each girl chooses to find her value beyond her physical beauty, we create an opportunity for equality and a better society as a whole. You need to remember you were born loving yourself. I always use my 10-month-old daughter as a reference for this because there is not a single ounce of self-loathing within her, just love and joy. Self-loathing is a learned behavior, and if you can learn to hate yourself and your body, you can also learn to love it again. It begins by using that beautiful brain of yours and questioning everything you are seeing. You get to decide what kind of life you want to live.
I’m curious how you find a personal balance in your own life when it comes to desserts and junk food?
I think we have to be realistic about our individual health first before we can really live that balanced life we are working towards. For myself, I am living in Mexico for three months and I have made it a personal goal to get back in shape and feed my body healthy whole foods. After having my baby, I lost all my strength in the gym, and I essentially have to start over again. I am 15 pounds over my normal and natural healthy weight, so I think it’s okay to set some fitness and health goals that are realistic so you can reach a healthy weight, then work back in the balance and moderation of treats and junk food.
I always remind myself that my goal is no longer to focus on my changing body but instead on how my body is functioning. I think being healthy is when your body is operating optimally, and of course that requires a piece of pizza every now and then.
Can we look forward to any other books from you in the future?
Yes! For my next book, I want to focus on the mother-daughter relationship—specifically, the baby-boomer generation of mothers because there are so many aspects of cultural and generational messaging affecting young women, which no longer applies to the world we live in currently. Our mothers were raised in a generation where women were just starting to have more opportunities outside of being married young and having babies, but they weren’t encouraged to seek those opportunities. My generation of women are breaking down gender roles, starting businesses, living without limitations, and raising families all at once! Meanwhile, as we raise our children to believe in themselves we are also re-raising our mothers in a sense and teaching them they have value. I believe if we can better understand this complicated relationship, we have a chance to break the cycle of self-loathing for our daughters as a family unit.
Healthy is the New Skinny—Your Guide to Self-Love in a “Picture Perfect” World