After dropping down to a size 10, a healthy size for her 5’9 frame, Katie Willcox was no longer considered big enough for her plus-size modeling career. Instead of quitting the industry, Katie decided she would change it and created Healthy Is The New Skinny, a thriving social movement challenging the modeling industry and public’s perception of “idealistic beauty” that has been created over time. After checking out HNS’s Instagram feed I knew I had to get Katie’s tips on how she maintains her healthy lifestyle, something that can be a challenge for women sometimes! Here are Katie’s best advice and tips…
I have been traveling to University campuses across the country to speak to young women about this and it has been alarming to see how self-conscious they truly are. I think the reality is much worse than we think and that is because we have failed them in many ways. Where are their strong female mentors helping them navigate these difficult times during adolescence? We didn’t have those women in our lives and the self-esteem crisis will continue to thrive until we show up for these girls and boldly say, “You deserve better and I will help teach you how to create a life that empowers the woman you were born to be.” That is what I am doing. I am showing up for girls because no one showed up for me and I know how much of an impact having a strong female mentor would have made on my younger self. I would rather die than see my confident, smart, vivacious, funny, and beautiful daughter turn into an empty shell of herself. It is my job as her mother to ensure that doesn’t happen and that is why I am working so hard to have an impact on college-age women. They are our future and they are suffering. So, as women, we have to ask ourselves what we are doing to show up for them? More importantly, what will happen when we don’t?
Katie’s best advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
- Focus on mental health. Our patterns and habits are dictated by how we feel and when we are taking action to manage stress in a healthy way, eat well, get enough sleep, have time to rest and do things that aren’t work-related, and things that feed our ability to be positive, we will make healthier choices for ourselves overall. We can eat well and workout but that doesn’t mean you are a healthy functional person. Health is much more diverse than that and we need to care for ourselves in mind, body, and spirit to maintain a healthy lifestyle long term.
- Know that no one will value you as much as you value yourself. I wish I knew that no one in the modeling industry was going to value me as much as I value myself, and because of that, it is my responsibility to create healthy boundaries that protect my mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
- Avoid yoyo dieting traps. I think we have been trained as women to set weight loss goals with events like prom, vacation, our wedding etc. Those important events push an unhealthy idea that we mush lose weight in order to enjoy them and be worthy of a good time. Most of the time it results in extreme and unhealthy forms of weight loss. After that day is over, and the motivation is gone, most people pack back on the pounds and then end up back in an unhealthy cycle of poor self-esteem and body image.
- View your self esteem with a new perspective. We need to shift from an emotional viewpoint to an intellectual one. Beauty ideals have never been about female beauty, they have always been about reducing female power. When we are focused on our bodies we are not empowered to be independent, confident, and secure human beings because we know we are valued as a body first and as people second. If you want to improve your body image you have to study the female role throughout history and the various ways media has dictated what women are allowed to be. Once you understand that this has been a systematic approach to keeping you small, you are now in a position to choose to be powerful instead. That is what I have chosen and my choices each day reflect my decision to be powerful instead of small.