for most of my life, I’ve heard the societal belief that people who have curvy bodies “eat too much” and “don’t exercise enough.” I have heard that if they change these habits, they will lose weight. So when I gained weight recently, I felt like people were judging me, thinking that I adopted those habits and that doing so made me somehow a “bad” person. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t.)
I knew, logically, that weight gain was not a moral issue. When I joined a social justice-oriented eating disorder organization in college, I learned the myths that plague our society — and the truth behind them. For example, I learned that food doesn’t have moral value, that people can be healthy in many forms, and that you can’t assume someone’s habits or health just by looking at them. I also learned that many factors can affect health and weight, including genetics, medications, your income, where you live, and more. But despite that knowledge, I struggled. Many people around me did not know or share that perception.
Then, I found out Sports Illustrated Models Ella Halikas and Laetitia de Caruffel on my TikTok “For You” page. These women are body-positive creators and influencers who post videos about how they exercise regularly, get fit and have curvier bodies. Some of these videos are responses to TikTok users’ comments, and others are regular videos.
health & fitness isn’t a one-size fits all kinda thing.. remember that
For example, in one of his gym workout videos, Halikas typed: “When people tell me I hit the gym not knowing I’ve been an athlete all my life and can beat them any day.” “Health and fitness is not one size fits all…remember,” she wrote in the caption.
In one of De Caruffel’s videos, he talks about how people expect him to hear that he works out five times a week see That she is “super fit”. She then says, “Yes, actually, I am” and pans over her body, explaining that a healthy, fit body doesn’t always mean visible abs and reduced body fat. My response: Go away, girl!
But on a more serious note, it means a lot to me to see this kind of presentation. While I know exercise doesn’t automatically make someone a “good”, “good” or “healthy” person, and we don’t “hate” anyone for working out, it’s nice to see how real people prove that a curvy body doesn’t equal a lack of fitness. As a curvier woman who enjoys dancing and playing volleyball occasionally, it helps me feel less alone or that something is “wrong” with me or my body.
These TikToks also educate people who haven’t heard yet how weight and health aren’t as strongly and directly linked as we previously thought—which hopefully leads to less fat bias and judgment. This is not only important on a small, societal level, but can also (hopefully) affect systemic issues like weight discrimination. If you haven’t heard it, people in big companies are often given less health care and denied jobs or higher salaries simply because of their appearance. Clearly, this is ridiculous, dangerous and needs to change.
“The day I decided to be confident and live life to the fullest in the body I’m in, regardless of size, was the day my life changed forever.” – Ella Halikas
And change is happening, slowly but surely. Registered dietitian and intuitive eating consultant Sammy Prewitt is an example. In some of her TikToks, she talks about how she used to advise her clients to lose weight and “eat clean” and how she learned from health in every form and how she no longer does because of similar movements. Weight is not the only indicator of health and all. Food is fine.
I know creators like this often have a lot of hate for their content—something I’m not entirely immune to, as someone who writes articles online—and I admire the passion that drives them to keep posting anyway.
“I think it’s important to post this message because people need to understand that health and fitness come in all shapes and sizes,” Halikas said when we spoke. She mentions how she has been overlooked because of her size, despite being as healthy as her thinner peers. “I would even argue that this is physically the biggest I’ve ever been, and yet I’m my healthiest and strongest,” she adds.
Halikas aims to inspire confidence in others. “I hope that by posting my workouts, talking about my meal prep, and being open about my life, other people can feel confident to post and live their lives the way they want, regardless of their size,” she says.
He’s been successful with that too, as evidenced by his comments section. Some of the comments that stood out for Halikad were “Thank you for showing that you can be healthy and strong even with a curvy body” and “You inspire me to focus on being my best self.” Such words encourage him to post.
Halikas gets the hate, but thankfully, he’s able to handle it. “The negative comments I get are basically people fat-shaming me, telling me I need to lose weight and saying I’m unhealthy because of my size,” she says. “Dealing with negative comments is not necessarily easy; However, I’ve gotten really good at not letting them get to me.”
He knows how important his message is and where those comments are actually coming from “I now realize that these negative comments are really just insecure people trying to bring me down to their level,” she says. “If anything, I try not to take these comments personally because I know these comments reflect them and not me.”
He also wants to clarify that fitness is not always about losing weight. “I want people to stop assuming that just because I like to work out every day doesn’t automatically mean I want to lose weight,” she says. “There are many other reasons why people lose weight.”
Halikas’ decision to live with confidence regardless of her size changed her life profoundly. “When I was younger, I spent a lot of time trying to fit societal beauty and fitness standards and wishing I was younger,” she says. “The day I decided to be confident and live life to the fullest in the body I’m in, regardless of size, was the day my life changed forever.”
I see the impact of his passion in my own life as well. Now, thanks to Halikas, as well as de Caruffel, I am able to argue with the voice in my head that tells me I am not healthy or worthy of respect because I am “too big”. I wear a bikini on the beach and don’t suck my belly. I try to exercise without doing it for weight-related reasons. I care less about what others think of me and how I look. It’s a process that takes time and acceptance, but I’m getting there.