Readers of Women’s Health will no longer see the phrases “bikini body” and “drop two sizes” on the cover or within the pages of the magazine, editor-in-chief Amy Keller Laird announced in a letter to readers this week.
The move follows a previous decision to drop the words “shrink” and “diet” from the cover. It comes amid growing attention to the psychological issues related to feminine physical ideals presented by the media.
Laird said the decision was prompted by the results of a reader survey, in which respondents took issue with the phrases as being particularly reductive, shaming and discouraging, not to mention imprecise and generally unhelpful.
Laird wrote: “You told us you don't love the words ‘shrink’ and ‘diet,’ and we're happy to say we kicked those to the cover curb ourselves over the past year. But we're still using two other phrases – ‘bikini body’ and ‘drop two sizes’ – that you want retired. Since our goal is always to pump you up, and never to make you feel bad, here's our pledge: They're gone. They'll no longer appear on Women's Health covers.”
In place of the retired phrases, Women’s Health covers will now feature more words like “toned,” “sexy” and “strong.” Editorial coverage will focus more on the many benefits of exercise and realistic weight loss plans, paying some attention to appearance but not giving it a central place.
A number of media companies and advertisers have been embracing the more affirmative, less judgmental view of women’s bodies advocated by feminist activists. Most prominently, Dove has scored major publicity victories with its “Real Beauty” campaign, highlighting women with a range of body types.