Reverse Airbrushing?!

I recently saw this article published by the Huffington Post describing how fashion editors are plumping up ultra skinny models so they don’t look sickly.   Notice how in the photo on the right, the  model’s rib cage has been photoshopped so she doesn’t look emaciated.

The original article quotes a former editor of Cosmo who discusses this “reverse airbrushing” a practice she describes as plumping up ultra thin models, adding curves to make them look healthier.  Even supposedly healthy publications are guilty of this practice, “Self, has admitted: ‘We retouch to make the models look bigger and healthier’.”  

So what sort of message are we sending to women?  That we should strive to be ultra skinny but not look emaciated? –– this is physically impossible and dangerous!  Remember my post on skinny fat?  

We should strive for a healthy weight and a fit body.  That means being with a healthy weight range, too thin is also dangerous to our health!  The following chart gives you an idea of healthy weight ranges for women and men.  Keep in mind that these charts are for the average adult.  (An athlete or someone who works out heavily and has an above average amount of muscle mass will be healthy at a heavier weight).   Click here to determine frame size.

Weight Chart for Women

Weight in pounds, based on ages 25-59 with the lowest mortality rate
(indoor clothing weighing 3 pounds and shoes with 1″ heels, and so if you weigh yourself with no clothing or shoes, subtract 1″ and 3 pounds)

Height

Small Frame

Medium Frame

Large Frame

4’10”

102-111

109-121

118-131

4’11”

103-113

111-123

120-134

5’0″

104-115

113-126

122-137

5’1″

106-118

115-129

125-140

5’2″

108-121

118-132

128-143

5’3″

111-124

121-135

131-147

5’4″

114-127

124-138

134-151

5’5″

117-130

127-141

137-155

5’6″

120-133

130-144

140-159

5’7″

123-136

133-147

143-163

5’8″

126-139

136-150

146-167

5’9″

129-142

139-153

149-170

5’10”

132-145

142-156

152-173

5’11”

135-148

145-159

155-176

6’0″

138-151

148-162

158-179

Weight Chart for Men

Weight in pounds, based on ages 25-59 with the lowest mortality rate
(indoor clothing weighing 5 pounds and shoes with 1″ heels, and so if you weigh yourself with no clothing or shoes, subtract 1″ and 5 pounds)
Click here to calculate frame size

Height

Small Frame

Medium Frame

Large Frame

5’2″

128-134

131-141

138-150

5’3″

130-136

133-143

140-153

5’4″

132-138

135-145

142-156

5’5″

134-140

137-148

144-160

5’6″

136-142

139-151

146-164

5’7″

138-145

142-154

149-168

5’8″

140-148

145-157

152-172

5’9″

142-151

148-160

155-176

5’10”

144-154

151-163

158-180

5’11”

146-157

154-166

161-184

6’0″

149-160

157-170

164-188

6’1″

152-164

160-174

168-192

6’2″

155-168

164-178

172-197

6’3″

158-172

167-182

176-202

6’4″

162-176

171-187

181-207

Are you Skinny Fat?

Have you ever heard of skinny fat?  A skinny fat person is not overweight, but lacks lean muscle tissue.  This person may be underweight, or they may be of average weight and look great in their clothes, but are flabby underneath.  A skinny fat person may appear to have a “good” body, but they actually are not physically fit.  The medical term for this is metabolically obese normal weight (MONW).

The amount a person weighs or their height to weight ratio (BMI) is not necessarily an indicator of their level of fitness.

There are actually 5 distinct components of fitness, and to be physically fit we need to work on each of them.

The 5 Components of Fitness are:

Muscle Strength (i.e.: how much force a muscle can exert a single time)

Muscle Endurance (how long a muscle can work without fatigue)

Cardio Vascular Endurance (the ability of the heart and lungs to work together to provide the body with oxygen)

Body Composition (percent of body fat vs. lean muscle tissue)

Flexibility (ability for the joints to achieve full range of motion)

No individual component is more or less important than the others, while at times we may work on enhancing one or two of these components over the others, it is important to work on all 5 in order to truly be physically fit.

As I started this post talking about Skinny Fat, let’s address Body Composition first.  To determine your body fat composition, a quick analysis can be done by a trainer at your health club or by your doctor.

Even fit adults have body fat.  There is an Essential Fat Level of 10-13% for women and 2-5% for men.  Anything below this level is unhealthy and can be physically and mentally damaging (as in the case of anorexia).

Athletes have a slightly lower percentage, 14-20% for women and 6-13% for men.  These are people who are training at an intense level.  These low body fat levels are unrealistic for the average person or recreational athlete.

A Physically Fit Person has a body fat composition of 21-24% (women) and 14-17% (men).  These people are thin and have some muscle definition.

The Average Women has a body fat composition of 25-31% and the Average Man 18-24%.  The average adult has a higher body fat percentage than is optimal, although it is still at a healthy level.

Anything over 32% for women and 25% for men is considered Obese.

These charts from Built Lean puts things into perspective:

So we really want to strive for a body fat of 21-31% for women and 14-24% for men.

While exercise is important for us, the absolute best way to improve your body composition is through your diet.  I don’t mean going on a crash diet!  But rather by eating a healthy diet which can be summed up as:

  • Eat foods high in lean protein-rich (fish, lean cuts of grass fed beef and farm raised chicken, fermented soy products, beans, nuts)
  • Eliminate, or greatly reduce, added sugars and refined carbs (cakes, candies, ice cream, desserts, white bread, white rice, white pasta)
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Eliminate or greatly reduce trans-fat, and saturated fats from animal sources (full fat or 2% dairy, ice cream, beef, sausage, etc.)
  • Eat healthy omega-3 rich, healthy fats (organic salmon, avocados, almonds)

As far as exercise goes, cardio workouts such as brisk walking, running, cardio equipment at the gym, and cycling will help burn fat.  Weight training will help build muscle.  I will be sharing more information on cardio and weight training in future posts.

If you want to see some more examples of what skinny fat looks like, check out these photos:

BodyBuilding,com

Photos of Skinny Fat Stomach