Every Body is a Beach Body: Chronic Illness and the Media, Representation, and Inclusivity

by Ariela Paulsen
Every Body is a Beach Body: Chronic Illness and the Media, Representation, and Inclusivity

We live in an exciting moment in which advertisements and social groups are moving past the expectation and portrayal of “perfect” bodies in favor of inclusivity.  Diversity — of size, shape, race, culture, etc. — is finally being celebrated! Creative ads break down the gender expectations perpetuated for decades by the very same industries.  Beauty product suppliers now question what we mean by “beauty.” LGBTQ+ actors are finally being cast as beloved characters on TV. Stigmas and body shaming are being replaced by ads celebrating all bodies for what they can do. We see images of people who look shockingly normal and hear slogans like “every body is a beach body!”

It is a breath of fresh air for those of us who have felt left out, or even pushed out, of the mainstream.  Chronic illness has a way of magnifying one’s differences, and creating new ways for you to stand out from the crowd.  It feels amazing to finally be included.

And yet…

For all the celebration of diverse body shapes, multiracial hair, and non-patriarchical gender expression, where are the spoonies?  Where are the bodies with scars, hypermobility, feeding tubes, bald heads, and wheelchairs?  

Even in this, we are starting to see change!  Adaptive wear is becoming more prominent. Brands like Aerie are actively seeking spoonie models for mainstream products.  Beyonce’s fashion line currently features a model with muscular dystrophy.  Prominent figures like Selena Gomez, Yvie Oddly, and Dan Reynolds are opening up about their conditions.

Representation is an integral part of Mighty Well’s mission.  Our products are not only created for patients, but designed and modeled by patients!  You can read about the medical intervention that led to our PICCPerfect PICC line covers here and our models’ stories in our Meet Mighty Model series.  More than this, our products are specifically designed so that they are not only functional, but also a fashion statement you can be proud of!

Let’s take this moment in history to be honest with ourselves and those around us, to boldly wear the gear we need and not feel the need to hide our experiences!  The more visibility we gain, the more the world will accept us for what we are — mighty!

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