Is Fit Shaming A Thing?

I was discussing my training with a family member this weekend. I mentioned the fact I’m weight training and the response I got was ‘you need to be careful, you don’t want to get bulky,’ I actually would like to get bulky. I love the look of women that lift, unfortunately I don’t have the dedication and commitment required to achieve that look, and as I have discussed before, I like cheesecake to much.

I’ve had other unsolicited opinions on my body to, mainly when I was in shape, no one seemed to comment much when I stacked on weight, but I used to get comments like ‘you look to skinny,’ ‘your ribs make me feel sick’ and ‘you have man shoulders’.  I was never quite sure what to do with the information. I used to like the way I looked and I would love to have that figure again.

I don’t ever remember a time when I think I looked skinny, I was fit and I trained a lot, and at times I had visible abs and quite big shoulders.  I understand that isn’t to everyone’s taste but I liked it.  I did struggle with eating disorders in my late teens, but even then I never really looked skinny because I have very observant parents who noticed fast and steps were taken to get me help and control it. However the constant comments did make question what I was seeing in the mirror and on pictures, especially when it was from friends or family. It made me more self conscious.

I was never particularly skinny!!

Its not just me who gets the unsolicited advice about how to look either and it seems I’ve had it relatively easy compared to some.

I have a student who comes to aerial classes, she trains hard both in class and with weights at home. She has an incredible physique. She’s strong, fit and has very defined muscles. She told me not long ago that she won’t wear vest tops or show off her shoulders or back outside of class because people judge her. She’s had strangers ridicule her while out for dinner with her kids. She has had a family member insinuate she isn’t feminine enough for jewellery, and another has jokingly impersonated her but suggesting she talks with a gruff man voice and has no intellect and only wants to lift weights. So despite training hard for something she wants and enjoys, she feels she can’t show off her achievements because of ridicule and judgement.

A friend of mine was recently featured in a local newspaper article about their body building achievements with her husband and their vegan lifestyle. The article was shared online here and the abuse the couple got was atrocious. The only people that defended them were their friends and colleagues. Most of the general public seemed to consider the personal attacks about their appearance as acceptable. So rather than being able to celebrate their achievements, they instead had to defend their life choices and tolerate abuse.

Another friend, a strong, graceful and very talented aerialist recently told me that it’s very rare for anyone to tell her she looks beautiful or good. All anyone ever comments on is how slim she is, and they usually do so in an apologetic manner, insinuating she must either be ill or have an eating disorder.

Body shaming, despite all the media attention, seems to still be a rife and an accepted part of social interaction and it seems no physique can escape it. Apparently the shape we chose to be isn’t a personal choice and that we should expect the rest of the world to judge us on it. And there is always someone who considers you so repulsive that they feel obligated to inform you and expect you to change.

I’m well aware that fat shaming is far more prevalent than any other form of body shaming and I can’t imagine how difficult it is to have to deal with the comments and attitudes on a much more frequent scale. But it does seem to me that people are much more aware of fat shaming than they are of any other type. I know it still happens but people are aware fat shaming is wrong. People do try to stop it, and will speak out against it. But with other forms, people are more likely to ignore it. It’s seen as a harmless joke, and it’s assumed that a skinny or strong person must be more confident in their body shape, and somehow not get offended or upset by the derogatory remarks.

So this post is basically to say body shaming isn’t ok towards anyone. Another person’s negative opinion on my body is none of my business, and I don’t need to hear it. I don’t want to hear it so feel free to shove it where the sun don’t shine.

I don’t understand how or why people think they can say the things they do. I’m pretty sure if I was to have replied to the relative telling me my shoulders are to manly, that I felt their ass was to squishy, then I would have got pulled up and told to stop being offensive by other family members, yet people just nodded in agreement with the opinion on my shoulders. But it’s no different and equally offensive.

So if you’re about to give a negative opinion on someone’s body shape, or about their appearance – don’t! It’ll only cause awkwardness and upset. If you feel uncomfortable about your own body, shaming other people won’t help. There’s no one ‘right’ body type, there’s only what’s right for each person.

Published by aerialemma

I'm a 40 year old aerial arts and pole dance instructor who has recently been diagnosed with Graves' Disease

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