How Being “Fit-Shamed” Made Me Feel
How Being “Fit-Shamed” Made Me Feel. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
These last couple weeks have been kind of a shit-show. It all started when I injured my back, triggering a chain reaction of chaos in my life. I’ve been dealing with a lot between scheduling and figuring out childcare in order to see multiple medical specialists. On top of actually going to all the appointments, and taking the kids on a number of more stressful, bigger-than-usual trips. All while dealing with a painful back injury that has made it impossible to train. Throw in starting to take birth control pills for hormonal issues, and I’ve had quite a lot going on in this body and mind of mine lately! These last few weeks have been HARD.
I am tired despite getting decent sleep. I am hungry despite eating as much as I did when I was doing intense exercise. I’ve just been in a mopey, frustrated, annoyed, exhausted little funk.
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I rely on habits and routine a LOT to keep me sane. The wrenches thrown into the works really drain me. And make me crabby. I like things predictable. Boring, even. My love of predictability and control is a huge reason why becoming a mother was, and continues to be, so horribly challenging for me. But that’s a whole other post.
What little, mostly child-driven routine I used to have is basically non-existent. Working around these out-of-the-ordinary factors all at once has really disrupted my life. The perfect storm for throwing myself a pity party.
It was a welcome surprise when goddess SWEAT trainer, Kelsey Wells, featured my mental and physical progress using her PWR training program on her Instagram account!
Maybe this was the boost of confidence and energy I needed to get out of the shitty week I’d been having alive. And maybe it would even propel me out of my crappy mood and give me some much needed motivation in lieu of my beloved routine.
And it was fun to have the queen herself recognize my physical progress through displaying my “before-and-after” photo, along with my caption listing the positive mental gains I’ve made through fitness.
Note: Before-and-after is in quotes because both photos were simply taken at a point in time during this journey. Neither was taken as a “before,” and neither was taken as an “after.” Both are just me, being proud as hell of myself and loving the heck outta my body and the process that brings me joy. The legit, utter, overwhelming joy that taking care of my physical and mental well-being gives me is a beautiful fucking thing.
But I digress…I’ll admit I was a little giddy when I opened IG to the feature. It helped me connect with some new friends, and I even got a “follow back” from PWR Program creator, Kelsey Wells! But my excitement was short-lived. It dwindled away when I took a glance at the comments left beneath my side-by-side photo on Kelsey’s feed.
While I’m grateful the majority of messages were positive, an overwhelming amount were shocking. And not in a good way. Read on for the rude, disgusting, hateful comments left under my photos. And for how being fit-shamed made me feel.
The comments were NOT pretty…
This lady does not look strong or healthy at all.
Sorry, but she looks sick, thats [sic] not an amazing and healthy body.
Sorry this is ANOREXIA. Seek help please, it’s really for your best.
Way too skinny…not attractive.
This lady’s BMI looks dangerously low.
This screams anorexia.
She definitely doesn’t look healthy.
This lady does not look better “after.”
Those pics don’t look good at all.
No me gusta el resultado.
Actually she looked better before [sic] this world is sick seriously.
She looks so much better and healthier in the left pic!
How Being Fit-Shamed Made Me Feel
Now, I know who I am. I know what I do. I know these comments are unwarranted and wrong, and stem from the unhappiness in the hearts of the people who wrote them.
Yet they still had me feeling some kind of way after reading them all, one after another. It was an uncalled for, baffling amount of negativity after an already challenging couple of weeks. Far beyond how insulting and insensitive the messages themselves were for me to read personally, the comments revealed deeper problems on a cultural level. The source of the hateful comments goes far beyond the people who wrote them.
I Was Saddened
It’s amazing and important that women of all shapes and sizes are embracing and celebrating their bodies. I am heartbroken that people at both ends of the spectrum, and every fractal in between, are shamed for looking “too this” or “too that.” There is literally no way to win when it comes to societal expectations, standards, opinions, and norms.
Long-term moderation, balance, and consistency is so rare it’s perceived as obsessive and extreme. Even impossible. For so many women and girls out there, the mere thought of dedicating years of effort to something as important as their own health is blasphemous.
Diet Culture Has Destroyed Society
It’s gut-wrenching that in today’s society, women and girls are brainwashed into thinking anyone with a lean, muscular body could only have achieved it through unhealthy methods. They falsely believe that if someone manages to look extraordinary, they couldn’t possibly feel extraordinary.
It’s deeply unsettling that the importance of mental health, and the positive effects physical activity imparts upon it, is still not properly recognized. Women are criticized for empowering themselves through mental strength and discipline. The happiness, pride, confidence, and calm that fitness gives them is given no credit or significance. It is completely disregarded…based on appearance.
It saddens me that women and girls look to bring others down rather than find their own power. They teach the impressionable that it’s okay – normal, even – to bully others out of fear, jealousy, maliciousness, and ignorance. I found myself trying to figure out why so many women chose to *pause* and take the time to say such disrespectful things when they could have simply kept scrolling and moved on with their lives.
Turns Out, It Was Just a Lot All At Once
After processing, I realize now that my crummy mood was mostly, almost totally, unrelated to the Instagram feature drama. The feature just happened to post on the same morning I was told I essentially wouldn’t be able to workout for the remainder of the year. After an already excruciating 2-week hiatus.
I felt like I was being kicked while I was down. I wasn’t so much affected by the words in the Instagram comments, themselves. They were more like salt in my back-injury wound. With everything else going on, my mind struggled to shake off the noise like it normally would. I had some negative comments with similar themes on a previous repost by Kelsey in May and at that time I didn’t give them a second thought! Being fit-shamed made me feel much more self-conscious and attacked this time around because of all the other BS floating around.
Be Kind. Always.
Let this serve as a warning to always be mindful with your words, regardless of your opinion. You truly know nothing about a person or, more importantly, what’s going on in someone’s life, by briefly glancing at a picture that randomly pops up on your phone screen.
And even if you think you do, ask yourself if your words and opinions truly should be shared with the person in the photo, and world in general. Even if you think they should, go a step further and ask yourself: if they were directed at your dearest friend or family member, would you still share them? Would you share them out loud, to their face? If you think you would…would your chosen words be perceived as helpful and kind, or rude and hateful? Consider all of these things so you may identify your intentions, and do the right thing.
Teach Kindness. Always.
One thing I know for sure is I will raise my children to be better than those trolling the internet. They will know seeking out ways to bully others and spread hate not okay. They will know it does not serve them or speak to their purpose. And therefore, it is certainly not a constructive use of their valuable time and energy.
May I teach my children that who they are will not be influenced by the opinions of others. May they have the strength to stand up for themselves with tact.
May they know their worth is infinite, and independent of their opinion of others, so that they may always choose kindness, understanding, empathy, and love – for themselves, as well as others.
May they comprehend the power of their words, as well as the importance of their silence, and have the wisdom to know when each is appropriate.
May they live gracefully knowing they can never judge a book by its cover.
Whether or not you are a mother, you wield the power of influence. Just like a superhero, you have the choice to use your power for either good or evil. Join me in choosing good. Let’s raise a generation that sees incredible value and finds overwhelming joy in the good. So much so that there isn’t any energy left over to spend in the evil.
Just for a Laugh…
Speaking of wasting energy on evil, by the way…remember those evil comments my before-and-after photo elicited? Well, I chose to reply to each one with a heavy dose of kindness and understanding, and just a bit of sarcasm. Because no matter how being fit-shamed made me feel, I choose kindness. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading How Being “Fit-Shamed” Made Me Feel. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments and, as always, please connect with me on Instagram!
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