Fit Shaming explained

‘Fit shaming is claiming that people who are active and healthy are terrible, shallow people’ – Urban Dictionary

Whilst I fully accept that I may be stepping straight into the lion’s den here, and if the whole Mumsnet debacle taught me anything it’s sometimes really tricky expressing your opinion on the internet, but you can’t have a go at me for something I’ve directly experienced myself can you? Surely? Let’s see…

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For the last few years, usually in January, and mostly on Twitter, I’ve noticed that if I dare start to talk about January diets, my Santa delivered gym gear or that fact that I’ve eaten nothing but Toffifee for the last 10 days, then I get a load of barbed comments accusing me of fat shaming. In fact one year in a (since deleted – which is a shame since would make an ideal screenshot) tweet, I was tagged in a post that said ‘I’m sick of blonde skinny bitches stealing our #BOPO hashtag’ For those who don’t know or can’t remember, #BOPO stands for ‘body positivity’. So apparently ‘blonde skinny bitches’ aren’t allowed to display any kind of positivity about their bodies, or have any hang-ups or insecurities whatsoever. Just so you know. It also made my laugh because if you use the picture above as exhibit A, them thighs ain’t skinny by anybody’s definition.

This kind of stuff is now known as ‘fit shaming’. The term was initially coined by a dietary supplement company, who had these adverts on the London Underground. People, were, quite rightly, angered at these, because, well, who says for a start you have to look like her to have a bikini body, and since when were diet supplements the right way to achieve any type of healthy lifestyle? Anyway, the morons at Protein World didn’t like this backlash and accused the nay sayers common sense as ‘fit shaming’. But since the phrase entered the vernacular, I feel like it’s grown into something more, something different from the furore that these adverts caused. And quite frankly I’m not all that keen on people I don’t know being mean to me on the internet because I want to go to the gym a few times a week.

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Here’s my take on the whole thing, for what it’s worth. If you want to be a size 8, 18, 28 or 80 and are happy and comfortable and confident at that size then that is a-ok and you won’t hear a peep from me about it. You go Glen Coco. But the fact of the matter is, when I’m on the heavier end of my own personal spectrum, that makes me unhappy. And I don’t like being unhappy.

Despite what anyone may think, exercise isn’t all about aesthetics to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when I’m leaner and my clothes fit me better and I don’t have a million chins on a side profile picture. But that’s not the whole deal for me. My friends mock me all the time because on a daily basis I will start a sentence with ‘so I was at the gym and I was thinking…’ or ‘it struck me when I was on my run…’. Exercise is like therapy for me. It’s when I do most of my problem solving or anxiety exorcism. Weight loss is just a happy by-product of that.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about passions and how certain passions are deemed less worthy than others, and really it all boiled down to just accepting people and being tolerant of differences. I feel like the same message applies here. I can’t help but think that if someone is so offended by me going to the gym after Christmas they feel it necessary to tweet insults at me, there’s some kind of insecurity there on their own part.

Or maybe they’re just a dick. Don’t be a dick people.

3 Comments

  1. desbuckley January 8, 2020 / 7:33 am

    Nice one Helen. Tell it like it is

  2. Kayleigh Pickersgill January 8, 2020 / 5:37 pm

    I love this so much, especially the line about anxiety exorcism! That’s what running is for me too and exercise totally helps me deal with my demons. I get it the other way, because I keep fit and eat healthy all year round, everyone takes the piss, I’m fit and healthy shamed all the time ha! Honestly people need to look at themselves a bit more, instead of targeting others! Great post Helen, loved it!

    Kayleigh x

  3. Nuala January 8, 2020 / 10:07 pm

    I like how exercise makes me feel. I do want to be in better shape, but if that never happened I’d still exercise for me and my mind.
    I got the the gym every day….sometimes twice, and people roll their eyes and make comments but I’ve decided I don’t care I like it. It’s taken most of my 38 years to comfortable in my choices….but it feels good now.

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