You can’t tell how healthy someone is by looking at them. Ever.

Not long ago I was cruising through The Moderation Movement’s posts and found one discussing body shapes and it included a picture of a fitness model.

It’s a great post and makes a really good point in regards to body size and shape. With over 14,000 followers on facebook, these posts do attract many comments and usually most of them are lovely, positive comments.

There were, unfortunately, some young women on this thread who decided that this was a bit of a farce and that the model in the photo was in fact, healthy and that we should be aspiring to look like her, since she clearly “looks after herself”.

Nope.

Even after stripping away the Photoshop and the editing (remember, all these images have been digitally altered!) you just can’t tell how healthy someone is by looking at them.

This person is more than her six pack. She has a job, a family, hobbies and interests. She has people who love her, insecurities, favorite foods. She is a person and she has a life.

Just by looking at this person you can’t tell her blood pressure, mental health status or relationship with alcohol.

So really, what can you tell from a single photo? Nothing.

For all you know this person might*:

  • Exercise compulsively for several hours a day
  • Refuse to eat out with friends
  • Have an eating disorder
  • Display disorder eating patterns such as restricting certain food or food groups, going on uncontrollable binges and purging (forced vomiting, laxative use or excessive exercise) to ‘atone’ for any ‘extra’ food eaten
  • Constantly monitor their bodies for changes and/or perceiving themselves to have put on fat when they haven’t
  • Not eat the foods they like for fear of putting on weight

Do these sound like healthy behaviors to you?

It takes a lot to be fitness model.

Their bodies need to be toned, and fat percentages kept very low. In the lead up to a shoot, models tend to up their fitness routine and partake in extreme behaviors to make sure their bodies are as lean as possible.

A female fitness model will keep her body fat percentage at 9-10%.

On average, female bodies will be roughly 23% fat.

This fat on a woman’s body is important as it helps regulate hormones and keep her in good health. A certain level of body fat is also needed for woman to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy.

Keeping your body fat at 9-10% for a long time could have devastating long-term implications such as:

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Trouble falling pregnant
  • Irregular hormone levels which can lead to osteoporosis

So if you find yourself judging the health of someone when you look at them I want to stop for a moment and consider why you are thinking that. What is it about them that screams ‘healthy’ to you?

I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating and I’ll keep writing about it until every one gets the message. You just can’t tell how healthy someone is by looking at them.

* I am absolutely in no way shape or form suggesting that all fitness models; naturally slim or fit people do these things. People of all sizes can display these behaviors.

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