Columbus Park Eating Disorders Expert Calls New Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover and ‘Curvy’ Barbie Signs of a Positive Shift Toward Healthier Body Images

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Much has been said and written about the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Issue and one of its cover stars, model Ashley Graham, who is the first
‘plus-size’ model to be featured on the cover of the magazine’s iconic
and annually best-selling issue, currently on news-racks nationwide.
Now, Melissa Gerson, therapist, eating disorder treatment specialist,
and founder of Columbus
, Manhattan’s leading outpatient treatment center for people
with eating disorders, is calling Graham’s high-profile photos
“culturally significant.”

Describing Sports Illustrated’s move as “much more than a gimmick or
publicity stunt,” Gerson has described the magazine’s decision to
prominently feature Graham and other models with atypical body types as
a landmark show of support in the ongoing battle against unhealthy body

“We were pleasantly surprised by Sports Illustrated’s decision to
feature a variety of different body types in its latest swimsuit issue,”
said Gerson. “In recent years, the annual issue of the magazine – which
is seen as something of an iconic benchmark for current beauty ideals,
has tended to focus on particularly thin body types that reflect only a
tiny percentage of the female population. To expand from that view to
include fuller figured, athletic, older, and ethnically diverse models
is a welcome change as it presents young women and girls with a greater
scope of body types to identify with and an overall healthier view of
what is perceived as beautiful in 2016.”

Gerson added that she is also pleased with other, similarly responsible
and high-profile attempts to reflect and celebrate a more diverse view
of physical role models, such as the new ‘curvy’ Barbie doll from Mattel.

“The SI Swimsuit Issue and the new Barbie are examples of what we in the
eating disorder treatment community are seeing as a huge proactive step
toward the promotion of healthy lifestyles among young girls,” said
Gerson. “You could argue that Barbie has come a tremendously long way
since the first doll to carry the name was launched in 1959, but it is
just this year that has seen a transformation that could be a
significant difference maker in the self-esteem of young girls all over
the world.

“We see girls every day who have carried an unhealthy sense of what a
woman should like since they were small children,” added Gerson. “It is
deeply reassuring that Mattel has taken proactive steps to creating a
more realistic and womanly looking doll that the girls can imagine
growing up to look like. In an age when girls as young as five years old
are worried about the way they look and their size, what Mattel, Sports
Illustrated, the Pirelli Calendar (whose 2016 edition features women of
diverse physiques), and other forward-looking, healthy-minded
organizations are doing this year is a giant step in the right direction
and will likely have a positive effect on our culture at large. We are
hoping the trend continues.”

At Columbus Park, Gerson leads a multi-disciplinary team of experienced
specialists who share a mission to provide help for adults, teens and
children struggling with eating issues.

Learn more about Columbus Park via its website at
or call 646/798-5914.

Media: To arrange interviews with Melissa Gerson, receive media
backgrounder material or to learn more about Columbus Park, contact Paul
Williams, at 310/569-0023 or via


for Columbus Park
Paul Williams, 310/569-0023