An Open letter to Women’s Health on ‘Shrinking’

Dear Women’s Health,

Yesterday you sent an email to all your online subscribers with the subject line ‘How to Eat, Drink & Still Shrink’ because everyone knows that during Christmas the number one thing women think about is shrinking.  Your December survival guide had the answers to questions I had never asked – How To De-Bloat Ahead Of Your Christmas Party, Your Guide To Eating Everything At Christmas…, The Low Cal Drink Everyone’s Ordering In LA, and How To Lose Weight By Eating More. Maybe lots of women pound your office doors begging you to tell them how to shrink over December, but I doubt it.

Here’s the thing Women’s Health, I think you are hugely problematic on days when you don’t tell women they need to shrink. Your cover star of this month is Clean Eating Alice, a woman who has made a massive success of her lifestyle by separating foods into ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’. There is enough guilt around food without this being something else – food is food and never dirty. I can’t remember the last time you had a brown woman as your cover star. Actually, now that I think about it I don’t think you have ever had a brown woman as your cover star. It’s very clear that diversity isn’t all that important to you. You have called yourself Women’s Health yet my health really doesn’t seem to be something you care about.

And that takes me back to the email you sent yesterday. Someone in your office must have been so pleased that they came up with a rhyme for the subject line – Eat, Drink, & Still Shrink. It’s catchy, it’s memorable. (Oh, how memorable it is.) However, you are not a seven year old child in school that’s just discovered poetry. You are a world-wide known women’s magazine staffed by adults with the word ‘health’ in your title. Did no one in your offices realise that the word ‘shrink’ has everything to do with what women are told to be every day?

Maybe you genuinely don’t know what the connotations to the word ‘shrink’ are. Let me enlighten you. Here are some of the ways that I, as a woman, have been told to shrink:

  • Be less dominating
  • Be less loud
  • Be less charismatic
  • Be less clever

And there are probably so many more that I don’t remember because being told to shrink is very, very normal.

And then there is you Women’s Health, a magazine which is supposed to care about my health telling me that this December I should really worry about physically shrinking because food is the enemy and I need to constantly be on my guard. Constant vigilance!

You seem to be very stuck in the past. There has been a shift in attitude and maybe it’s because I surround myself with like-minded people or maybe it’s because I have never bought into food being evil thing, but most people I meet in all the classes and fitness shindigs I go to believe that balance is the key to health based success. That includes their mental wellbeing. That doesn’t include deprivation. That means there is a difference between shrinking and being healthy.

Don’t worry, I completely understand that as a ‘health’ magazine you survive on scaring people to give you their money so that you can then give them the solution. And so I understand why you sent this email. But I hold you to a higher standard than that. I am one of those eternally optimistic people who believe that one day you will actually support and champion me and my health. So far, you haven’t.

To be completely honest, I don’t think that my letter to you will make any difference. But I need you to know that telling me and all your subscribers to shrink is not OK. I need the people who read RoshETC to know that I am not going to be quite at emails like the one you sent. I will not become physically less of myself and nor should anyone.

Be better than your email Women’s Health.

Yours sincerely,



  1. Rachel 13th December 2016 / 11:58 am

    Hey Roshni, this is a great letter. Did you actually send it to their editor?

    • Rosh 13th December 2016 / 12:23 pm

      I haven’t! I tagged them on twitter and social media and even if they read it I am pretty sure they won’t acknowledge it. I didn’t actually consider sending it to them – but i shall now!

      • Rachel 13th December 2016 / 12:30 pm

        Yes you definitely should. I have often read that magazine and dismissed a lot of the ‘fat-busting’ talk in there, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. Women should not be shamed in this way!

      • LycraLover 14th December 2016 / 4:35 am

        Please send it. Go the brown women!

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