Katie Halchishick plus size model OprahI saw this post on Healthy is The New Skinny (amazing website for women, if you haven’t been there before). That’s because the beautiful woman in this photo is plus-size model Katie Halchishick – who happens to be the co-founder of Healthy is the New Skinny and the Perfectly Unperfected Project. This photo appeared in the November issue of Oprah’s magazine “O” as part of an eight page section about body image and beauty. The first nude to ever appear in O, Katie was shot by famed photographer Matthew Rolston. In the image, Katie is holding a similarly nude Barbie doll.  Dotted lines (such as those made by a cosmetic surgeon or photo editor preparing a retouch) cover Katie, indicating what would have to be cut away in order for her to look like Barbie. This is a very powerful photo and O as well as Katie should be commended by sending such a strong message. It’s obvious that even a gorgeous model like Katie falls short of the ideal. The rest of the article includes the results of a survey taken by O magazine readers with ages ranging from teens to women in their 60s. It was found that older women report having better body image, although the results are still not great. Older women noted feeling “grateful” when asked to describe how they felt about their bodies. For younger women, the more popular choice was “self-conscious.” When asked what reasons they had for exercising, older women said “staying healthy” while younger women said “losing weight.” Next to Katie’s picture, the highlight of the issue is a “Dear Every Woman” letter from novelist Amy Bloom.  Here is a great excerpt:

You cannot be a healthy person, let alone hope for healthy children, if you sigh and moan every time you encounter your own image, eat a cookie, or see an airbrushed model on a billboard.  Even if it amounts to wholesale pretending, go pretend.  Walk around pretending to be a woman who likes her body… Because every step toward self-love you take, and every inch of confidence you give someone’s daughter, makes the world a better place…. You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.  And you are beautiful.

I hope that you are inspired and empowered by this photo, and realize how unrealistic the expectations being placed upon us are. I personally do not like living in a world where women are asked how they feel about the bodies that have carried them throughout their lives and all they can say is “grateful.” I want them to feel AMAZING about their bodies. We are all imperfect, and that is perfectly fine! Now…strip off your clothes and start loving your body! Meanwhile, I’ve got to get that issue of O so I can report back!