America switching to healthier food options

By Keirsten Heckel, Student Writer

If a foreign exchange student were to come to America five years ago, what would they see? Two extremes would be presented to them upon arrival. On one end of the spectrum, they would see a world of fast food and calorie loaded meals with large portions. It was difficult to find healthy options at any restaurant a person dined at. On the other end of the spectrum, the fashion world was consumed with making the image of women thinner and thinner while editing out all of their flaws in photos. It was rarity to find an unedited picture in a magazine or fashion website. The runways were filled with stick figures and the designers would erase the models flaws with makeup. The real image of women was rapidly spiraling downward.

What would this same foreign exchange student see today? Most restaurants now carry healthier options, even fast food joints. The media is constantly putting out stories on healthier lifestyles and you see more health success stories every day. America seems to be on a health kick, providing people with a better way to live and more options to change their life for the better. Even the fashion world is coming on board with this current trend. Designers are choosing to display women with more “flaws” and showing young girls that they aren’t supposed to be rain thin. Local stores are choosing pictures that are unedited to display on their websites and in their shops.

The point of the matter is that body image impacts individuals and the nation as a whole in terms of how women are perceived and in health consciousness.

Recently, during the New York Fashion Week, a few designers featured models with disabilities to walk in their show. Displayed were models that were in wheelchairs, models that have Down Syndrome, some were missing a part of their arm, and some were amputees. That is a big change from the familiar gaunt looking women that normally walk in these shows. The fashion industry is recognizing that women are beautiful in all forms, regardless if they are skinny or have a disability.

Corporations value a positive image, so they are steering away from false advertising. Aerie by American Eagle has recently taken on the pledge of not digitally enhancing the photos of their models for the website and inside of their stores. The campaign is called Aerie Real and it was launched in hopes to make women love the bodies that they have and to feel good about themselves. Aerie took to Instagram with this campaign and urged young women to post an unedited picture of themselves that they felt good in. They would then hashtag #aerieREAL to be featured on  Forever 21 and H&M have also promoted a new plus-size line for women. This is a refreshing new take on body image and is highlighting that women need to embrace who they really are. These changes are especially appreciated because women are constantly critiqued for their weight which can cause severe depression and even suicide for women and young girls. Society is creating a more accepting atmosphere that is changing the way the world sees women forever.

As far as a healthier option in restaurants, Applebee’s has stepped up to create a more diverse menu for its customers. They offer a Pub Diet section of the menu that recognizes the number of calories in the meal and all of the nutrition facts desired. They do a great job of promoting the Pub Diet on social media to help gain awareness for people struggling to find a healthy meal. They are taking advantage of the health kick America is on and they are trying to grow and expand with the country. People want healthier options, but don’t want to pay more than what they do for the not so healthy options. The Pub Diet does exactly that. It offers customers healthy, low calorie options, with prices as low as $10. They are responding to what America wants, which will improve their relationship with their publics.

Fast Food restaurants are always altering their menu with healthier options. According to, restaurants that increased their low calorie offerings sold nearly nine percent more products, while those who have decreased their healthier options witnessed a 16 percent drop in sales. From a personal standpoint, I don’t eat anywhere unless there are healthy options available. Companies need to realize this and understand this because if they continue to stay where they are at in terms of nutrition, they are going to lose business and lose it fast.

So, where do we go from here? How do we continue this progression? Advertising and marketing are the key to keep this progression going, as well as social media. People use social media as their primary source of information, so if they constantly see healthy foods and people working out or being motivated, they will follow. It only takes three times for someone to see something before they really notice it. Advertisers and marketers need to target the right audience. If you target the college students, they will learn a new and improved lifestyle that they will want to continue throughout their life, which will ultimately lead to them teaching their children the same ideas to secure the future beyond their own lives. Offer better restaurants on campus, provide more group activity classes at the recreation center, and give seminars on eating disorders and depression; all of these ideas will help get college students to understand where the country needs to grow in order to be the best that it can be.