Women's Running

Plus-size model Erica Schenk appears on the cover of the August issue of Women's Running. (James Farrell/WomensRunning.com)

Louise Green has been an avid runner for 12 years and regularly competes in half-marathons and triathlons, but she has never once seen any woman who looks like her featured in a sports magazine.

That is, until Women's Running featured plus-size model Erica Schenk in its August issue.

"The first thing I thought was, 'Hell yes, it's about time,'" said Green, founder of The Body Exchange, a studio for plus-size women in Metro Vancouver.

Green says the Women's Running cover would have been unheard of back in 2008 when she first started her business. Since there are limited representations of plus-size women in advertising related to athleticism, fitness or health, people are always surprised when they see plus-size women in magazines or television, she said.

"It was even like that for me when I started [running]," Green told CBC's Radio West.

"I remember going to the Running Room, walking in terrified because I didn't know that plus-size people ran, and lo and behold, this woman walks out and introduces herself as our run leader and she was a plus-size woman.

"I had never seen a representation of a plus-size woman in a leadership [role] or even as a runner. It's because we're not seeing it, we don't have the visual landscape for it."

Green says the latest issue of Women's Running, and ESPN's recent feature of U.S. track and field hammer thrower Amanda Bingson, indicate that perceptions about plus-size people are changing.

However, such representations in the media are still few and far between, and misconceptions about plus-size athletes remain, she said. 

"I don't think people are accustomed to people being plus-size and happy with themselves," she said.

"There's very much, 'Oh, you're a bigger woman, you're obviously on a journey to lose weight,' when that's not so. I'm happy with my body, my body serves me really well in my athletic pursuit."

The magazine's cover has got positive feedback on social media from all corners of the world.

Listen to the audio: B.C. runner weighs in on Women's Running cover