Harper’s Bazaar Faces Criticism For ‘Transform Your Body’ Post


Harper’s Bazaar is currently facing a lot of criticism for a Facebook post that users say promotes a “sickly and unhealthy” body image due to the image attached to the message, representing a skinny figure in a bikini. More details from Huffington Post:

On Wednesday, the glossy posted a photo of a thin woman emerging from the water wearing a bikini. The photo was accompanied by the caption, “How to completely transform your body—in ONLY two weeks,” followed by a link to Harper’s Bazaar’s online post, “The Two-Week Body Makeover: The Workout.” (The image on Facebook is also used as the main image for the accompanying post.)

Facebook users were quick to call out the magazine, calling them out for promoting unhealthy body ideals.

This image looks so unhealthy AND unattractive. Promoting this kind of body image is appalling,” wrote one.

“I can’t believe Harper’s Bazaar posted this! My little sister has [an eating disorder] and its because of images like this. She thinks she has to starve herself to be beautiful because that’s what she sees posted on a daily basis as beauty. This makes me mad because this woman doesn’t look healthy,” wrote another.

And while some users accused fellow commenters of skinny shaming, others were quick to retort, pointing out that while the woman in the photo may be “healthy and thriving,” this isn’t a “healthy” body for the average woman.

“I don’t think the issue is with this model personally. She may very well be that thin naturally, and that’s her body and she shouldn’t be shamed for it. However I think the issue most people are having is that using this particular physique for an article clearly aimed towards weight loss and exercise is only aiding in providing girls and women with unrealistic body goals,” wrote one user.

She continued, “Pictures used in this context tend to be the cause of and product of many problems related to both unhealthy ‘dieting’ as well as mental health issues when it comes to women and young girls.”

What is your take on this? Share your thoughts!



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39 thoughts on “Harper’s Bazaar Faces Criticism For ‘Transform Your Body’ Post”

  1. The only issue with this image is that the girl has bad posture in this pose. Other than that, she looks healthy, attractive, and a very nice body.

    • exxavtly she looks hot. i have to say this and it might be unpopular, but i think most women want to be thin like that model. she looks good, i think people lie a lot about loving their weight or wanting to be average. they want to be hot thin models, i know i do

        • i think women want it. again this is just what i beleive. i mean how many times will you see owmen and celebs saying they love their “curves” and when they lose weight theyre extatic

      • I don’t. It’s not my ideal, and I’m a twenty five year old woman. I like the fitness competitor a lot more.

        • I’ll admit that I used to praise bodies like this in the past, and secretly wish that I looked like a rail thin runway model, but my preferences have slightly changed. I’m more into the “fitness” look now. The model isn’t overly thin though, I think. It’s not really a big deal but I can see where people are coming from. I suppose “fat” being the norm now will skew things a bit as well.

        • Me too. Why would I want to look like some random, faceless model when my body is a reflection of the women in my family whom I love very much? My body is also a reflection of my ethnicity, which is another source of pride (I have wide Russian hips and fair Irish skin). I hate the idea that everyone must secretly want to be like a model or celebrity. I get joy from working out, taking care of my skin and the rest of my body, and my education, not whether I’m famous or have 10,000 Instagram likes.

        • same here. When I was 17-20 and had anorexia, I wanted to look like this. Now I am into health and fitness and like being more muscular, and whether the model in this pic is “technically” healthy or not, she is definitely not of OPTIMAL health, since so little muscle mass and body fat is not *optimally* healthy for anyone, whether they strive for it or not.

          Side note: ppl tend to use the excuse “they’re naturally like that, so they must be healthy.” Ppl can be “naturally” (ie unintentionally) of any shape or size depending on their habits, but that doesn’t *necessarily* make it healthy. Additionally, there is a difference between healthy as in ‘no current major disease and good markers’, and ‘overall risk levels for future problems’. Ppl often say that fat or underweight ppl are “healthy” because they currently have no major disease and good health markers, but that does NOT mean they are not at elevated risk for future problems (including poor quality of life!) compared to those in a healthy weight range. Yes, there are some who are over/underweight your whole life and remain healthy, but the statistics clearly show that ppl with long-term weight problems are far, far, far, more likely to have health problems in the future – I wish ppl would stop worrying so much about “right now” and think about the 20, 40, 60 years stretching ahead of them and where they want to be then. I know I’d rather be active and living a full life in my old age than stuck in an armchair at home with injuries, disease and no energy just waiting to die.

      • That was the point of the criticism…that people will want to look like that and it shouldn’t be sold as an ideal. You’re literally proving them right lol

      • I dunno, I think it varies by sub-culture and what’s considered healthy. I grew up in an area with a pretty large African and Latina population, and the ideal was curvy (like J.Lo). Personally, my ideal has always been athletic/healthy, because it’s both sustainable and aesthetic, plus I enjoy sports . . so there’s a major functionality component for me, not just decorative. The girls on my sports teams had a similar ideal (sports like soccer, volleyball, swimming . . not ballet or anything where aesthetics mattered much). I guess my point is that women are not the same and will have different ideals.

        • Jennifer Lopez has always been both small & slim: very flat stomach with thin limbs. Are people still trying to call her voluptuous just because she has a butt?

          • I called her curvy, not voluptuous. She has T&A and a decent WHR, both now and ~10 years ago (the period of time I was referring to). When people say curvy, they are typically referring to T&A and WHR, unless it’s being used as a euphemism for overweight, which is how you seem to be using it(?). Having a flat stomach and thin limbs doesn’t prevent someone from being curvy, frankly it probably adds to it, since it creates contrast with a fuller bust and hips. J. Lo is slim-normal and curvy (she’s really a bit on the athletic side due to dancing I think). Kim K. is voluptuous and curvy, but she wasn’t as visible ~10 years ago when I was in school. Anyways, my point was that people I knew preferred T&A, ie/ curves. And clearly, many still do (see butt injections and b❆❆b jobs), so the thin model look is not the ideal for every woman.

          • I didn’t use the word “curvy” at all. But now that we’re on the subject, what used to be a word meant to strictly convey shape has now come to denote size/girth.

            Calling a slim 5’4″ female with 34D-22-36 measurements “curvy” would have gotten nods of agreement 20 years ago. Now the sentiment angers plus-sized women who have now taken to calling themselves that. The term’s meaning has completely transformed. Curvy is their turf now.

          • Your comment said “Are people still trying to call her voluptuous just because she has a butt?” in reply to me using her as an example of a curvy woman . . dude, we were already on the subject of curvy, because I made the original comment you replied to! lol what? Are you trolling?

            “what used to be a word meant to strictly convey shape has now come to denote size/girth.” Now you’re just repeating what I already said in my second comment: “When people say curvy, they are typically referring to T&A and WHR, unless it’s being used as a euphemism for overweight”. The term’s meaning has not “completely transformed”, because it’s used in BOTH cases: as a signifier of shape AND as a euphemism for overweight. I indicated to you which meaning I was using (both explicitly in my 2nd comment, and in my 1st one when I used J. Lo as an example). Since you clearly know curvy is used in reference to full hips and bust (though apparently according to you this usage is from 20 years ago, despite people still using it today, and even on this site), why did you even make your initial comment? Looks like you’re being deliberately obtuse to pick an argument. Good to know.

    • I think the main issue is her arms. It looks like they’ve been photoshopped too thin. Her torso actually seems OK: no sternum or ribs showing. There’s just something a bit off about the proportions between her arms and upper torso . . not sure what.

  2. I hate articles like “Lose 20 pounds in a month” or “Get your bikini body in 14 days”. Losing a lot of weight in a short period of time is not sustainable and unhealthy. Why not promote health and plans for longterm results? Oh right, because those wouldn’t sell. As far as the photo goes, I can see why people would get upset. Being this skinny is simply not attainable for many women, especially not with a 2 week diet. Also, her protuding collar bones seem to be the focus of the photo, which is kind of unneccesary.

  3. 1. Harper’s Bazaar (& SI, & VS, & all the other mags) need to fire/re-train their digital altering staff; they’re TERRIBLE at their jobs & everyone sees it. They frequently make a normal pic awful & bring bad attention to themselves.

    2. Folks should not solely blame their body insecurities on the media. Your baby sis has an EO? Where are your damned parents/guardians? Why is she being allowed to view slim bodies more than the regular fat people she sees everyday, who SHOULD have a more grounding effect?

    3. If one of the overweight models were used to promote a healthy image, would it be acceptable to comment how “unattractive & unhealthy” it is?

  4. There is more collarbone going on here than I like, but really it’s hard to say with the amount of lighting and retouching changes that have likely gone on here. The model doesn’t look malnourished or like she just walked out of Birkenau, she looks like a low healthy range BMI.

    I think she looks fine, some people like this look, others like more muscle, others like to appear softer, to each their own, but to start flinging feces and screaming because a thin woman was in a magazine promoting a weight loss article is just absurd.

    If you don’t want to lose weight or have no issues with how you look, the article will mean nothing to you and you will flip the page and move on. If you want to lose fat you’ll take note of it and perhaps read it. People don’t get upset over this because the model is a terrible person and no one should look like that, people get upset over this because they don’t look like that and likely never will.

    • I agree. I feel that instead of calling out the model, saying she is unhealthy and unattractive (which is uncalled for) people should be calling out the magazine for overly retouching their pictures.

      Also, the lighting is just awful. It gives the model’s skin an aged look that I am sure is not how it really looks.

      • Everyone is entitled to their opinions. So people aren’t allowed to say this looks unhealthy or unattractive? everyone has different visions of health – emaciated – fat – obese. let it ride, you can tell someone how they should perceive things.

        • No on said they couldn’t have their opinions, I only suggested that they might be directed at the wrong source. The model doesn’t have a say (for the most part) about what the final picture looks like. For all we know this photo has been photoshopped to the extreme. Instead of saying “this model looks unhealthy and unattractive,” I would say “HB, you made this model look to be unhealthy and that is not attractive.”

    • I don’t fully agree, I believe some of these people get mad because they are concerned about the true victims of those images: young girls and teenagers. It didn’t bother me at all until I remembered the way I felt when I was younger and when I imagined having a daughter.
      However, if adult women whine about their bodies because of such images it’s their fault, their problem and they are just being immature…

      • Also I don’t like the use of the word “transform”, it’s like they’re trying to resonate with that voice in most women’s heads that says they are not enough and they need to change everything about themselves to be up to society’s standards. That is just a messed up intention IMO.

  5. The model in a picture look natually skinny , she doest look strong or fit ( the picture is more disturbing ,then atractive ) .we shouldnt bodyshame skinny or fat ppl . But this picture definetly doesnt apply as healthy image to me personaly .people shouldnt starve to loose weight and look like this model ,we should be active more and eat healthier ,and look stong and fit .So yes i agree with other that specialy for young girs its definetly Wrong Image .
    PS i feel hungry only looking at her 😀 going to make myself a sandwich

  6. The picture creeps me out to be honest. It looks like it was photoshopped to make her look too thin with still big boobs. Makes no sense. And people (especially younger women) will subconsciously want to get this unattainable (for most) look.

  7. i don’t know why anybody would want to look like that, she’s got no muscle tone at all. she just looks shapeless and formless. rosie huntington or julliane hough have perfect bodies to me, not too skinny, but certainly slim, with a little curve.

  8. If someone would want to go from an average weight to the above in two weeks – as the article implies – it would be extremely unhealthy and also most likely still impossible. That is what should be criticised, the idea that you can get an “ideal” body – whatever that is – in 2 weeks or 10 days or 2 months or whatever. In terms of size, I am probably close to the model, but I have been slowly recomping for over a year (!!!) so I have significantly more muscle mass and more muscle tone than when I started. And I am still not done, this is something I am in for the long run (I am now working on building more muscle mass, as my bf% is where I want it, but it’s difficult as my main exercise is long distance running). Also, after reaching your ideal – again, whatever that is – there is still maintenance work. No magazine or magic diet tells you about that, ever. And then you wake up that wow, “the miraculous diet” didn’t work. Well, what did you expect?

    • +1

      My ideal look is highly influenced by how much effort I need to put in to achieve it and what is sustainable and healthy over the long-term. Yo-yo crash dieting is not the way to go.

  9. I don’t think the issue is whether the model is healthy, I think the issue is that the image is not a healthy goal for most people.

    There are a lot of other models with healthier looking bodies who would have been better suited for this kind of article. Obviously you can’t actually tell if a person is healthy just from the way they look in a photo, but a magazine is all about visual images so they should have chosen a model who appeared to be healthier.

  10. Crash diets are not generally healthy or sustainable in the long run, nearly everyone will agree. But people also love the idea of a quick fix, so magazines will always run these types of stories.

    I think it’s just as harmful to promote obesity as a body type that is to be celebrated and embraced. But with more than have of the country in the overweight category, the HAES movement isn’t going away either. How about health at any size where health is actually possible? Neither emaciated nor obese.

  11. well, saying that this kind of body is ” the WRONG ” kind of body is bad in itself since there is no WRONG body. However, what I found really appalling is the CHANGE YOUR BODY message. Like, why ??? this is the body I was given . why should I strive to change it !!! I´d rather embrace it and work with what I have !!!

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