I recently saw this post on Instagram: “Body shaming any body is bad for everybody…” It’s been years since I have touched upon the topic of body shaming, but last Wednesday evening after Cardio Fun class, one of our new members shared a very bad experience she had at work that day, and I knew our conversation called for a Blog…

With eyes brimming with tears, she told me that someone called her a hippopotamus! I was really at a loss for words, and although I didn’t really know how to comfort her at the time, I now wish that I could have been there, witnessing that conversation. I would have so much to say to the bully, because that’s exactly what body shamers are. Big.  Bad.  Bullies.

…It’s time to remind ourselves that words matter, and they have the power to hurt. Making negative remarks about someone’s body, fat or thin, IS bullying, and I think it should actually be punished by law! But since that would never happen, all of us should weigh our words, because words weigh!

Nah, not reading any further because you’re not guilty when it comes to fat shaming, I presume? Maybe, but wait, one moment please…

Okay, so maybe you have never called anyone an elephant or hippo, or made remarks like, “You would be a knockout if you lost weight”, or “There’s no way that is going to fit you”. But maybe you’ve asked someone, “Are you really going to eat all that?” Not? Good for you!

But haven’t you ever said to a skinny person: “You are nothing but skin and bones”, and are you sure you’ve never asked a thin person, “Don’t you ever eat?”

I have been in the fitness industry for many years; working with women’s bodies is an integral part of my day. My instructors know that I have strong convictions about the example we need to set with our lifestyles and choices, and how important the image is that we project when we are on stage. Unfortunately, looking good is part of being an instructor’s job description. But I try to refrain from commenting on my clients’ aesthetics. I try to encourage and support as much as I can, but at the end
of the day their bodies are not my business.

Our bodies are our homes, with scars, triumphs, tragedies, and countless stories. And it’s important to remember that a fit body doesn’t necessarily tell the story of a healthy person, nor does an overweight body tell the story of a lazy person. It’s simply impossible to know everything about a person’s behaviour or life by simply looking at her body.

In the last few years social media and the internet have brought body shaming to an all-time high. “Keyboard courage”, as it’s called, plays a major role in this regard, simply because it’s so easy to shame someone when hidden behind a screen. Some shocking examples of recent body shaming include a Fox News host saying that Kelly Clarkson should “stay off the deep-dish pizza for a while”, and then there was the cruel photo of a pregnant Kim Kardashian being likened to a whale. Luckily, you and I, we aren’t in the limelight like celebrities, but we are hard on ourselves, as it is. We definitely don’t need negative commentary from others too!

Pointing a judgmental finger won’t encourage anyone to take loving, earnest steps toward improving their health or changing their bodies. The other side of this fat shaming coin, namely thin shaming, is also note-worthy, and one I can deeply relate with. In her book “The Ministry of Thin”, English columnist, Emma Woolf, writes: “Fat is still an issue, and a fraught one at that. But I’m fed up with being judged for being physically disciplined, for watching what I eat, and for exercising five times a week.” 

Yes, I often get ridiculed and criticized for exercising 11 times a week, and I have often heard comments like “you’re unbalance and obsessed” and “you should act your age…” A few members have also mentioned to me in the past, that they have also dealt with harsh comments, like “you are addicted to exercise”, “you spend way too much time at the gym”, or “it’s so stupid – why on earth do you want to do another challenge?!”

Blah. Blah. Blah. It comes down to this – BODY SHAMING ANY BODY IS BAD FOR EVERYBODY. We simply cannot look at people and decipher if they are making healthy choices in their lives. What we can, and should do, is be encouraging, or otherwise, simply mind our own business.

Like “Bridgerton” star, Nicola Cloughlan, who took to Instagram in January 2022 to ask her followers to stop commenting on her weight, saying: “So, just a thing – if you have an opinion about my body, please don’t share it with me.”

American singer, Lizzo, also spoke her mind on social media, about “tired” beauty standards and the constant pressure she, and others, are put under to achieve them: “Do you see the delusion?”, Lizzo questioned. “Do you realize that artists are here to make art, not to fit into your beauty standards? And this body is art, and I’m gonna do whatever I want with this body…”

…Let’s learn to practice gratitude for a healthy body, even if it’s rounder than we’d like it to be. Let’s feed our bodies, admit our hunger, look our appetites straight in the eye without fear or shame, practice grace, demonstrate grace, and make peace with our imperfections every time we look in the mirror.

In her book “The Tapping solution”, New York Times bestselling author, Jessica Ortner says: You can’t criticize yourself thin. You can’t hate yourself happy. You can’t shame yourself worthy.”

I would like to rephrase – You can’t criticize me and feel thinner. You can’t hate me and feel happier. You can’t shame me and become worthier… No one has the right to demand that your body be something other than it is.

My body is a place of war, of death and suffering, of triumph and victory, of damage and repair, of blood and tears and sweat. YOURS TOO.
My body is a place where memories go to find purpose of their existence. YOURS TOO.
My body is a place of growth. YOURS TOO.
My body is a blessing. YOURS TOO.
My body is just trying to figure out how to live a beautiful life. YOURS TOO.
My body is a challenge, not for the faint of heart, beckoning me to face it with eyes wide open. YOURS TOO.
My body is a temple. YOURS TOO.
So, pretty much the strongest, most badass thing that we can do is to love our bodies in this world that screams at us that we shouldn’t.

Yours in fitness

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