What is Healthy, Cheryl Tiegs?

Initially, there was a lot of trepidation concerning the controversy surrounding Cheryl Tiegs’ comments about “glamorizing” larger women – or should I say, “glamorizing what [Tiegs thinks] is unhealthy”? She also made a statement regarding the waist size being under 35 inches for women. I think this statement is taken out of context for reasons I will discuss later. Basically, Cheryl Tiegs has bought into stereotypes surrounding women like Ashley Graham, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Model she criticized for being there.

Let’s start with “glamorizing” an “unhealthy” lifestyle. Perhaps this is not apparent to you, Ms. Tiegs, but not everybody is a tiny athletic build like you. We are all different shapes and sizes, and many of us cannot even begin to be like your body, madam, without developing some sort of eating disorder. I have come across some statistics that say that the average model is up to 30 percent thinner than the average woman. Also, just because a woman is over a size 8 (or ZERO nowadays) does not mean she is sitting on the couch and stuffing her face mindlessly, like she’s some sort of rich-person parasite. I personally believe that the fat person sitting on the couch and stuffing their face as an idle parasite is a stereotype of the worst sort. Most women who carry any weight on them at all are very busy people who live actual lives, so they cannot afford to “Sit on the couch and stuff their faces.”

Let’s now talk about that other statement, the fact that a waist HAS TO BE under 35 inches…let us talk about where that really comes from. Back in the 1990s, people were classified into two body types: those with waists under 35 inches, and those with waists over 35 inches. (By the way, it’s 40 inches for a man as the dividing line.) People above the waistline divider were classified as “Apples,” while those below the waistline measurement were classified as “Pears.” While it is true that larger people are more likely to be “Apples” by this arbitrary dividing line, larger waists also appear in smaller people as well. Studies have confirmed that “Apples,” those above the dividing line, are more prone to chronic diseases. That is all Dr. Oz has said. Also, if you’re wondering about Ashley Graham’s waist size, it only 30 inches.

NOTE ON WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE: I have looked again at the “Apples and Pears” weight measurement, and it’s not a cut-and-dry number, like 35. For instance, the real dividing line is a 0.8 waist-to-hip ratio. It helps to do your research. (Divide waist measurement by hip measurement. That’s how you get the ratio.)

In any measure, Cheryl Tiegs has bought into stereotypes regarding larger people. She is a victim of the more insidious, more complex “weightism,” as I like to call it, that is promoted by the weight-fearing media and by society. Cheryl Tiegs is not entirely to blame. Granted, she is to blame for buying into it, but weightism is just as insidious as racism, and just as persistent. It is up to society to promote more body types, and a wider range of healthy people, and it is up to us to not believe the hype.

If Cheryl Tiegs wants to promote healthy, I must ask her: “What is healthy?”

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