With the rise of social media highlighting body image, and waves of advertising campaigns geared toward embracing bodies of all shapes and sizes, we've come to celebrate that all bodies can be fit and active.
Fitness magazines, however, continue to feature only the fittest models on their covers, which is discouraging to say the least — especially when the majority of readers represent a broad spectrum of body sizes.
Fitness magazine Women's Running might just have broken this mold. The notable publication made waves on social media this weekend when it released its August cover featuring 18-year-old plus-sized model, Eric Jean Schenk.
Looks like @womensrunningmagazine and I have stirred the pot. First Plus size model on the COVER of a RUNNING magazine. #killingit #running #curvywomenruntoo #love #curves #model Look for the 5 page spread inside too! The issue is out July 21st. Photographer: James Farrell @jrfphoto Make up and hair: @christiecaiolamakeup
"Honestly, I was astonished," says Schenk to People, unaware of her cover feature. Originally, the model was just a part of the issue's inside story on body diversity, but the editors were so impressed with Schenk that they gave her the coveted cover slot.
Editor-in-chief of Women's Running, Jessica Sebor stated that the decision to put Schenk on the cover was a perfect fit with the issue's feature on athletic brands producing clothing in all different sizes.
"There's a stereotype that all runners are skinny, and that's just not the case," Sebor said. "Runners come in all shapes and sizes. You can go any race finish line, from a 5K to a marathon, and see that. It was important for us to celebrate that," Sebor told "TODAY."
As an avid runner and fitness lover of swimming and volleyball, Schenk encourages those who feel isolated or shamed about their bodies while exercising to "do what you love" because they are not alone. Though still in the beginning stages of her modeling career, having signed with Wihelmina at 16, Schenk hopes her apperance inspires others.
"Our generation has taken leaps and bound towards less judgement and more acceptance. It makes me proud to see people responding positively to a curvy and proud woman who wants to lead a healthy lifestyle," Schenk told People.
The congratulatory feedback from the cover has young women everywhere rallying for body diversity in the fitness world and reminding us that when it comes to setting our own standards, #YourBodyRules.
Photo Credit: Instagram, James Farrell/Women's Running