A Classy Way to Respond to Body Shaming

SELF
by SELF
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A Classy Way to Respond to Body Shaming

Fitness instructor Megan Ellis is the co-manager of the Barre East Fitness Studio in Frederick, Maryland. When a newspaper clipping slid out of an envelope addressed to the studio, Ellis wasn’t particularlySelf surprised. The studio had just been featured in the business section of the local newspaper and she figured it was someone they knew sending them a copy.

But when she unfolded the clipping, what she saw brought her to tears.

body shaming newspaper clip

Photo courtesy of Taryn Sisco

An arrow pointing to Ellis’ hips reads: “You are fat, bordering on obese.” Another arrow connects co-manager and fellow instructor Taryn Sisco’s head to the words “You are overweight.”

Above the photo in scrawling cursive, the stranger wrote, “I’m tired of articles espousing fitness and health while those in the picture are neither.”

body shaming image 3

Photo by Brodie Ledford, courtesy of Taryn Sisco

And in the left-hand margin: “Pictures/articles like this give others a license to be overweight or obese.” It’s one thing if the sender was bashing barre fitness or their business model Sisco (left) explains. But this was an attack on the women’s bodies from “someone who didn’t know us, had never met us, and never set foot in the studio” Sisco tells SELF.

However, Ellis and Sisco weren’t about to allow hateful comments from a stranger bring them down. They were going to do something about it.

The next day, they published a blog post describing the incident, hoping to spread the message to their clients that body shaming is never okay and inspire them to stand up and say enough is enough. “Judging anyone based on their looks or a picture is just sad … and yes it is a form of bullying. It sends the wrong message to women everywhere. Women should lift each other up, not tear each other down. So nice try lady … but mission not accomplished,” they wrote.

body shaming photo 4

The post has since received a lot of attention, and women across the country have been calling to voice their support and share their own stories.

“It was hurtful enough to receive a piece of mail like that,” Ellis says.

And while Sisco and Ellis know who sent the hate mail (the name and return address were on the envelope), they’re not telling. “Putting her name out in public knowing that people would criticize and tear her down just didn’t seem right to us,” says Ellis. Nor would it jibe with Barre East’s mission—to provide a judgement-free zone where all women can feel comfortable.

The sender hasn’t taken Ellis and Sisco up on their offer to try one of their classes, but she did stop by to say she was sorry—an apology they readily accepted.

“I don’t know what led her up to this point in her life that she felt it necessary to write those things about us,” says Sisco. “But, honestly, I think she’s done us all a favor by starting this conversation.”


Feature image (at top) photo by Brodie Ledford, courtesy of Taryn Sisco

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106 responses to “A Classy Way to Respond to Body Shaming”

  1. Avatar Lmichelle says:

    Body shaming is an important motivator. I never would have got moving unless someone made fun of me. Yes a person may have had troubles of the past but that makes no difference. For the here and now I am still overweight. I must keep moving. When I stop doing the right thing someone shames me back into the right choices. Please stop shaming body shaming. A lot of people need the motivation including me.

    • Avatar Jill Steele says:

      Body shaming is not the motivation you need for long term weight loss. Kindness and positive feedback from yourself, family and friends works much better. You do not need perfection to reach your goals. Good luck as you progress in your journey.

      • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

        That sound ideal but the results do not match up. I’ve had kindness for the past two decades and the results were that I was loved anyways so why try. Getting shamed is a good reality check for me. It works for my personality type really well to help me live a healthy, not perfect life. If not for shame I would eat fast food everyday, never ever exercise and when someone was kind to me I interpret as, cool I do not have to do anything. Yes shaming is important to me and many I know.

        • Avatar barb says:

          therapy can help raise your self esteem up enough so that you do not need negative feedback to take action and love yourself enough to take care of your health.

          • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

            Then why is America, the most heavily treated globally in regard to therapy has a 2/3 obese or overweight rate and environmentals that shame like the military has every member in shape? The results don’t match up with your claim.

          • Avatar Jessica says:

            Actually, military members are in shape particularly because every aspect of their life is controlled and they are served healthful food. Their personal program of food and exercise is run by trained experts. If you ask them how much of it is shame motivated and how much is achievement motivated, I think you that would learn that achievement and pride are what actually get the job done. The actual daily job and routine of military personnel includes competent amounts of physical exercise. It’s not about the use of shame. It’s about the nature of the job. Nurses are often quite fit too. So are construction workers, farmers, and people who don’t do office work. Shame is not the key factor. As for America’s obesity and mental health numbers, that’s a bigger discussion.

        • Avatar Namaste0202 says:

          We need to do positive things for ourselves because we are worth it….not because we think someone else will judge us from our outward appearance. I really hope you are able to see the light here and hope you can continue to make positive changes in your life because you matter not because of some ignorant persons judgment

        • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

          You are an exception, not the rule.

          • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

            No, the rule is that 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. People in an environment where shaming is accepted are not obese, the military. That is the rule. Obviously this article is not geared towards people who are of that mindset so the contents will reflect otherwise. The real world results however show otherwise.

          • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

            The military doesn’t *allow* obesity. If someone is too fat, they get sent home. It’s not that everyone in the military can lose weight due to the Power of Shame; it’s that if you can’t lose the weight, you can’t be in the military.

            Also, a lot of soldiers ARE technically overweight or obese. That “2/3 of Americans” thing you’re citing is based on BMI, which is based on nothing more than weight and height, and does not control for body fat percentage. Lots of strong, athletic people have a BMI that is considered “overweight” or even “obese,” because the BMI scale is not designed to be applied to individuals.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            No, they don’t. They are put in the weight control program, where their commanders can order a restricted diet, and additional exercise (AKA, Remedial PT).

            They are not “sent home”, they are remediated.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Apparently, the entire US military is the exception as well… Fat shaming is a critical tool used to keep America’s fighting force in shape.

          • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

            Good for them, and good for you that you found something that works. But there are really a lot of people for whom shaming does not work, and it makes things worse.

            If someone wants to be shamed for their weight and that motivates them, I’m not going to tell them not to do that. It’s their body and mind, and I don’t know them better than they do. If you want to go on the fatboy program, do it. But, much like military service, it’s not for everyone– and I can say with confidence that telling random strangers (or gym owners) they need to lose weight, or mocking them for it, is not going to make the world a healthier place.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Actually, the less we make obesity acceptable for people, the fewer people will be. That’s sociology 101: Social pressures cause individual changes. We figured that out with smoking.

          • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

            Where did you take Sociology 101? Sure, social pressure encourages conformity, but shame is not an effective form of social pressure. It only encourages its targets to hide. And since when are we a nation of conformists, comrade? I thought this was an individualist society…

          • Avatar kurtsteinbach says:

            Actually, no it’s not allowed. I was overweight, but under BMI when I went in the military. I dropped the weight in boot camp, pretty quickly. I gained some back afterwards, but adapted and got it under control. Even after boot camp, you do PT in the military. I knew many people who did the remedial PT, and though I was not one of them, I encouraged them to keep going and never quit. You company commander yelling at you to keep going and excoriating at you not to stop and not to quit is not the same thing as shaming or bullying. Fat shaming and bullying was NOT allowed and was an offense that could lead to OIC and even CO Mast. Repeated offenses over time is an offense under the UCMJ that can lead to restriction, loss of rank, loss of pay, and other penalties. You do not bully or fat shame in the military. The person you bully or shame today, could end up being your superior in the future. And OICs, COs, and enlisted officers who allow it can get in a lot of trouble for allowing it. It is a morale killer, both inside and outside the military. The problem with the military and PT, is most people do not do that in civilian life. It is a very high standard of excellence that we actually pay them to stay in shape. PT is usually done during your work day, or just after, and most military units are paid 24/7. PT is done at least 3 times per week, and at least one day on the weekends. PT tests are done at least twice per year, no matter what branch you are in. Most people just don’t do that in civilian life. Most people do not get up at 5 AM and go to sleep at 10 PM, everyday. . . .

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Fat shaming isn’t a thing? The term “fat bodies” is quite prevalent in the military, or was 15 years ago when I was in…

            If it isn’t, that’s probably why our SecDef released a report calling obesity a national security problem. Didn’t kill morale with us, we used it as a training tool, and it worked.

            PT is not done during the work day. It’s done at 6:30AM to 7:30AM, which is a time of day most everyone can exercise on their own. I never had PT on the weekend, it was always Mon-Friday, 5 days per week.

            If people don’t do that, that’s on them, not on anyone else. I am no longer in the military, and I go for runs every day at 5:30AM.

          • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

            When in basic training it is entirely acceptable to tell a private they are a fat body. I realize the drill sgt and basic training is a different environment, but i am correct when I say that is part of military life, ie basic training. Active duty it applies still, but more subtle fashion. Look at the note that the over weight teacher was left. I think it is very comparable with a negative NCOER. “Failed to meet body fat standards” is common terminology in the military and it (heavily) implies shame. It is exactly what the anonymous note left in the gym is saying. I think of those negative comments being said on my NCOER and it makes me push, run and turn down the cake. It is effective.

    • Avatar Adia Hull says:

      Body shaming is an important motivator? Are you saying that if someone were to tell you that your breasts are too small for their liking, you’d be motivated to get breast implants to satisfy them and society? I think you’re forgetting that body shaming isn’t just weight shaming. Your body is your own and it’s no one’s place to tell you to change it, unless it’s life-threatening and a danger to your health. Body shaming is rude and unnecessary and you have little respect for yourself if you think otherwise. Maybe someone /is/ overweight; it’s none of anyone’s business but their own! Whoever is shaming you, confront them and let them know they aren’t worth your time.

      • Avatar Jill Steele says:

        Right on Adia, exactly my thoughts!

      • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

        It’s none of your business what I make my business. I am confronting you for shaming me for being pro body shaming. Take your own advice. It works for me. It works for a lot of people.

        • Avatar Jessica says:

          Wow. Confronting you for being purposely cruel to others is not “shaming” you any more than confronting a person for assaulting someone else. Your first comment with that “natural selection” nonsense clearly designated the difference between trying to offer helpful information and trying to just be inflammatory. I think you know this. You’re an intelligent person. I think you’re one of those people who likes to pick fights for your own particular reasons which would be better talked out with a professional than with a group of people who are trying to improve themselves. People’s wish for a kinder world includes you. I hope things improve for you.

      • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

        Breast size does not affect health. Excessive adipose tissue adversely affects health.

        Big difference.

        • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

          Not really. There are lots of things that affect other people’s health that are none of our business. Most of them, I think. Visible body fat is just one that people seem to really like to single out.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Obesity is up there in the top 10 killers in the US…

          • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

            Good to know you care! I assume you also shame tobacco smokers and reckless drivers. You sound like a fun guy.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Yes, I do. Notice the advertising campaigns on TV shaming people who smoke. Like the NICU “talk into the hole, so she can hear you better” ad? I don’t let smokers in my car, and smokers must smoke more than 100ft from doorways to public places, and aren’t allowed to smoke in many parks these days.

            And, reckless drivers? Yep, all of them should get their license revoked. DUI? Forget it, they should be locked up, 6 months minimum.

    • Avatar MK says:

      You are not a one size fits all. If it worked for you, it may not work for everyone else. That’s not how people work lol.

    • Avatar Karla Whitmore says:

      I am so sorry being verbally abused is your motivation. 🙁 I sincerely hope you don’t put others through that in order to “motivate” them.

    • Avatar Little Sir says:

      Body shaming doesn’t work for everyone as a motivator, and in many cases, it does the opposite. For a lot of people – women especially – one of the factors that prevent them from doing things like going to the gym or even just going out for a jog is the shame they feel about their own body. Reinforcing that only ensures that they’ll try to stay out of the public eye and do nothing about it – and that’s not even touching on other factors like anxiety and depression that contribute to weight gain and are exacerbated by things like body shaming.

      In other words, while being treated like crap might work for you, studies have shown – repeatedly – that it’s counterproductive for many.

    • Avatar Jessie says:

      It may have, by luck, worked for you, but statistically it is much more likely to lead people away from healthy change and fitness. We know from multiple studies that it will harm far more people than it could ever help.

    • Avatar Tyanna says:

      One day you will wake up and look in the mirror and like what you see. You’ll pick out some clothing that makes you feel joyous to show off how far you’ve come. You’ll leave the house happy and on top of the world b/c you put in a lot of work and kept on track and the pay off is finally there!

      And in that moment, someone you’ve never met will call you fat. That is fat shaming. You can say that it’s motivating you, but one day, when you’re happy with your body image it will hurt and bring you crashing down. Body shaming is meant to force others to not be comfortable in their own bodies.

      When I had lost 80lb and was at a healthy body fat percentage, getting toned and muscular, I was still fat shamed. It hurt even more then when I was at my heaviest.

  2. Avatar Jill Steele says:

    You ladies look gorgeous and healthy. I have struggled with a poor body image for most of my adult life but finally have come to a peaceful and positive place in my life. I so agree that we as women should spend more time on supporting each other and building each other up than critizing and judging each other. Love that this attack has resulted in positive dialogue and totally turned the criticism around.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Avatar Becki Rizzuti says:

    When I was a little girl, people called me fat. I was, at the time, slightly overweight but healthier than many of my friends. Unfortunately, I hit puberty early in my life (when I was nine, I had to wear a real bra) and people felt that the development of my body meant that I was “fat.”

    The shaming led me to put on weight. If I was already that fat, why should I work at staying at a healthy weight? The more people told me that I was fat, the more unhealthy my eating habits got, until I wound up over 300 pounds and in the hospital VERY sick.

    Body shaming didn’t cause me to lose the weight I’ve begun to lose: Listening to my body’s signals and wanting to feel better did. I disagree with Lmichelle about it being a motivator to lose weight. Shaming caused me to GAIN.

    • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

      The point lmichelle and myself are communicating is that shaming may not work for everyone. However, please don’t ignore that it works really well for some people. That will get it to where no one ever shames and strips away our motivation source. Be open minded to criticism even though it may be in a shaming nature. Take the comment and then take action to change. If the comment is never made us humble folk to can accept a negative comment and use it to change. Set the pride aside. Recognize the honesty. Change, yes we can!

      • Avatar Becki Rizzuti says:

        You seem to be under the impression that the rest of us, who are adversely affected by shaming, should allow others to shame us because it helps you in some way.

        Nobody can MAKE me overeat, but shaming can lead to depression, which can lead to poor lifestyle choices, which can lead to obesity and so on. If shaming works well for you to motivate you, that’s fine: But don’t tell me that I should allow others to shame me because it works to motivate you.

        If it works for you, then perhaps you should seek out an environment in which others use this form of motivation, but it is wrong to suggest that others should force me into an environment that works for you simply because it works for you.

        It’s illogical. Bullying should NEVER be encouraged, in my opinion. If standing by and allowing bullying to happen is passive bullying, then encouraging someone to bully (shame) another is just as much bullying as the original bullying behavior.

        • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

          I would rather be bullied than have increased risk of heart attack. Truth is better than thought policing for the sake of not being a bully. If you want to live in delussion, not listen to honesty and illogically pig out after getting called a pig then you will (or you first/second generation of offspring) will when natural selection comes take care of business. Those of us who are left will have healthier offspring and fat shaming will remain a norm. Survival of the fittest. I do not have to seek out the environment that supports fat shaming. I am preserving it.

          • Avatar Becki Rizzuti says:

            No, you are preserving a culture that bullies people because it makes them feel better about themselves, the way that you’ve chosen to bully me through the comments. How is this necessary, and in what way does it encourage growth for anyone, other than perhaps to make you feel superior?

            I was a fit child whose body functioned the way that it was supposed to when bullies began to fat shame me simply because I had reached puberty earlier than most girls did at that time, and you support that type of bullying, which often leads to suicide in pre-teens and teens because you require it in order to stop you from stuffing your face.

            You’re the one who can’t make decisions without someone else giving you an incentive by telling you that you’re fat. I’ve made those decisions and remained motivated by my OWN incentive without requiring someone else to bully me into doing it. Seems to me I’m the one who has the better will power here.

            From where I sit, it looks like you’re happy to be a slave to bullies, while I’m taking control of my own life back from the bullies. I’m empowered, while you require someone else to have power over you. You’re the type of person who would argue that shaming a child is the only way to correct their behavior instead of teaching them to manage their own impulses.

            If it’s survival of the fittest, those who can control their own impulses and pass that impulse control on to their children will be the ones to survive, not the ones who are slaves to the bullies and shamers and must be controlled by some external force or entity.

            I hope you find peace and the self-control that you need so that you can break away from that cycle and become one of the fittest you talk about. I refuse to engage further with someone who believes that bullying is a better way to go through life than learning to control oneself.

          • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

            Honesty will be supported by natural selection. America is too nice. Countries like China where obesity rates are low are nations where shaming is accepted. Their results speak. That is all the more I will say. Thank you.

          • Avatar CbfRider says:

            There is no correlation between obesity rates being low in China and shaming – unless you would care to point to where that is definitely linked?

            Having been there I would state that obesity is low because of the diet and food available, traditional ways of eating and poverty than anything else. Up until recently very few Western fast food chains existed in China which has far, far more foundation to the lower obesity rates than your attempt to justify being a bully.

            I watched as our local national staff in the office in Guangzhou I was working at went out EVERY single lunchtime to go and eat McDonalds or KFC that had just recently opened. It is a matter of time before China has an obesity problem like the West.

            It absolutely has sweet fa to do with shaming. You can keep deluding yourself all you like, all you are doing is justifying bullying which speaks volumes about you.

            I find it rather interesting how you don’t mind body shaming but you object to bully shaming though. Sorry but you can’t have your cake and eat it so to speak – if shaming is acceptable to you then you need to suck it up when people call you a bully and shame you for that. You cannot say one form of shaming is acceptable (because you think so) but one that you don’t think so isn’t. Last I checked that was the definition of hypocrisy. 🙂

          • Avatar Namaste0202 says:

            Thank goodness you are done with this ridiculous rant. It was exhausting and the ignorance in your arguments is beyond words.
            ….sigh

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            You keep using the word “bullying”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

          • Avatar Aubrey says:

            The way you’ve handled this argument just goes to show how strong you are, inside and out. Good luck on your fitness journey…you, no doubt, have the strength to go far.

          • Avatar Amber says:

            Dontax- You are clearly completely oblivious and should really think before you speak. Clearly you are just perfect and nothing could ever hurt or bother you; and if that’s the case you are one and a million honey and should sit the fuck down. Maybe SOME people will work harder with criticism with some things, but this is not one of them. This is not your father telling you you will never become a doctor and working your ass off to prove him wrong. This is body shaming, and no good comes out of it-EVER!! You think people don’t know what they’re doing may not be the best thing for them? You think you telling them will make them go through some stage of enlightenment and completely change their lives? It’s not going to fucking happen. We are all our own worse critics, justifying something that we tell ourselves in a self loathing state of mind is not going to push us to go further-its going to drag us back. You want to do something to help? STOP!

          • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

            Yea? And is by following this how you got your rocking body?

          • Avatar Amber says:

            Following what? Not bullying people? I am naturally just small, and this just does not run in my family. All of my siblings struggle with their weight every day of their lives and every single one of them are active and eat right. I don’t go to the gym, I don’t eat right- actually I eat horribly, wayy more calories than any of them, yet they all struggle with their weight and I can barely get over a 100lbs. But people look at them the way that you are judging these woman, assume that I’m the healthy one out of all of us and perhaps think they should “do what I do”, well you are wrong and so are they. Genetics play a huge part in everything from having a big nose to having issues with weight, but we are all beautiful and are all unique and NO ONE should ever be told they are less than based merely on their appearance EVER! The people that need to change are people like you, mindless assholes that think they are somehow better than everyone else and judge people superficially. You are ugly to me and I don’t even know what you look like.

          • Avatar Amber says:

            I’m sorry I’m new to this site (just signed up to reply to this bleeping bleeper) meant to reply to the conversation not to your comment specifically and failed. You are amazing!

          • Avatar Roeore says:

            Bullying puts you at a higher risk of depression and low levels of self worth. Depression is acutely linked to increased risk of suicide, so you are trading one risk (heart health) for another ( mental health)

          • Avatar Amber says:

            Dontax- Also, being at a healthy weight does not mean your children will be more healthy than anyone else, you are so nonsensical it infuriates me. So “skinny people” can’t get cancer? “skinny people” can’t get diabetes? “skinny people” can’t have heart attacks? Liver disease? Because if you believe that I urge you too pick up a fucking book. Anything we do can increase our risks of any of these things, from smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol/certain foods, environmental issues and again GENETICS! Clearly you don’t know shit about shit and you are just an angry lonely miserable little man that makes himself feel better by spreading his hate around- justifying your actions in your own mind by telling yourself that you are in some way helping these woman instead of bullying them.

          • Avatar Amy L Denton says:

            there are ways of getting a point out and being honest without shaming or bullying. some people have no control over there weight because of certain health issues. If you don’t know the persons story Don’t Bully you could be causing much more damage than is initially visible.

        • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

          Pointing out facts like,”Person A is obese” or “Person Y is really fat” isn’t bullying. It’s just calling it like it is.

      • Avatar Softball_Mom13 says:

        I’m sorry but you are so far from being right, it’s not even funny. The only person who can freely and openly tell someone that they need to lose or gain weight, is their doctor. It’s not your place or anyone else’s place to make that comment in any way. You don’t know their story, their hurdles, nothing. Leave it to the professionals who work directly with those that you THINK need it.

      • Avatar Namaste0202 says:

        Shaming is never okay…and only seems to be used by those ignorant to the damage of it. If they educated themselves on such issue and also educated themselves on issues of weight they would know this. The statement that ‘Be open minded to criticism even though it may be in a shaming nature.’ is a ridiculous statement.” One should never be inviting of criticism and shaming…besides, the person doin it has no rite to say anything about another- especially their appearance. It might be better that they educate themselves before criticizing another. For the record…positive reinforcement has proven much more effective in studies….I am sure someone that comes from the type of mindset that wrote the above would have no knowledge of that though…..educating oneself is primary…much more important than blurting out a bunch of negative statements and judging others appearance….which in the end is just a reflection of the person saying it. Here’s to hoping that people that have nothing constructive to say keep their opinions to themselves. So sad this morning ne of ignorance can exist in this day and age and little girls and women continue to be damaged by it. Smh…..:(

  4. Avatar Tierney says:

    Love the rebuttle article go girls!!!!! Barre is best!!!

  5. Avatar Max says:

    To says to a fat person: “You are fat” or “You are bordering obese” is not body shaming, it is just stating the truth. No one wakes up fat one morning, it is a long and slow process (im not refering to those with medical conditions here..) and the simple fact you let yourself become that fat should deserve a wake up call. Its ok to tell someone pretty “You are pretty” or to an alcoolic “You have a problem, go get help” so why the same isnt applicable to people with food addiction. You’re fat, do something about it.. If you dont you will be a burden on society so it is just not YOUR problem at that point. Go for a run Fatso.

    PS. I used to be overweight, still am by 15-20 pounds, but never understood the king-child-like attitude of people too weak to control themselves. At least be honest enough to yourself to give people calling you out credit.

    • Avatar michaela says:

      this is exactly the reason why this article was written. There’s not one person overweight/obese who is unaware of their body. I’m overweight, have been for a long time. I’m aware of it. I don’t need people who don’t know me to sit and cast hateful comments my way pointing out that I’m fat. I KNOW! This goes for every single person. I’m not trying to be rude and call you out for your opinion but it’s hurtful. Same goes for telling someone they are “too skinny” and “need to eat a cheeseburger”. Everyone of every body type is aware of it. No one needs comments on it to remind them because it’s HURTFUL. And saying things like “go for a run fatso” is the epitome of what I’m talking about. That’s not being helpful and encouraging someone to get healthy. That’s being downright rude.
      And I’m not sure how they are a “burden on society”…

      • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

        Especially since if some people actually see a fat person out on a run, they’ll yell at them/ mock them/ laugh at them/ throw things at them.

    • Avatar Tortrga says:

      How do you differentiate between those that have a medical condition and those that don’t?

    • Avatar barb says:

      is it ok to go up to someone and say “you are ugly, rude, crippled, stupid etc??
      quite possibly stating fact but shameful and anyway who makes some people the keeper and speaker of the truth??

    • Avatar Aubrey says:

      Fat people know they are fat, or at least women do. Maybe it is different for men, but when I was an overweight girl, I was hyperaware of my size. Calling attention to it, with backhanded compliments like, “you’d be such a knockout if you lost weight,” just made me hate myself more and think I was less worthy of taking care of my body. So it’s a lot more than “calling it like it is,” it’s cutting another person down. And that is mean.

      And as far as being a burden on society….unless you see that someone is on oxygen, you actually have no idea what their health level is. I know a woman who has dropped 200 lbs, and is still at least 50 lbs overweight, and she can outrun me by double my max distance. So I’m sure her CV health is far better than my own. I aspire to her level of fitness. Skinny doesn’t always equal health and fat doesn’t always illness. When you have a medical degree, you can make that call. But it’s only overstepping boundaries and making yourself look foolish when you claim to be an expert on someone of which you know very little.

    • Avatar Tyanna says:

      If you think the woman on the left is fat, there is something wrong with how you view female bodies.

      To say something to just to hurt someone you don’t know is not cool and is shaming/bullying. You don’t know their story or their struggles. I don’t understand why people feel the need to tare others down, even if it is a ‘fact’ as you say. If you say something you know will cut deep, you know will cause pain, you know will upset someone…then you are shaming/bullying them. B/c you aren’t doing it to help them, you are doing it to elevate yourself. End of story.

      Think of it this way; I see you have a daughter, how would you feel if a stranger insulted her, even if what that stranger said was a ‘fact’? How would it make her feel?

    • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

      I like walking up to random drunk people and telling them they’re alcoholics. I also like following homeless people around and telling them they’re homeless, just in case they didn’t know. It’s just stating the truth! Also, the women in my neighborhood feel a lot better now that they definitively know who’s pretty and who’s ugly. Lucky I was there to tell them!

  6. Avatar Wendy Schafer says:

    Makes ya want to challenge the sender to come to one class. have her put her workout clothes on “AND 5 6 7 8′ and see if she lasts.

  7. Avatar Liane says:

    I struggled with my weight most of my life, even my dad would ride me about my weight. He’d remind me that his mother died of a massive heart attack at age 49, with 300 lbs on her small frame. I was shopping for diet frozen meals one time, when two teenage girls came by. One looked at me and at the food I was picking out and said, “I’m glad I don’t need those.” What she didn’t realize that when I was her age, I had a body like hers too. Fat people know they’re fat. They don’t need it brought to their attention.

  8. Avatar Claudia says:

    At work there is a 42 yr old lady who always said to me, those girls with fat a$$ and big legs are disgusting. I was always ashamed to get up my desk. So my 72 yr old lady boss said one of these day’s I would not be able to get out of my chair. My lower body is bigger (pear shape). I am a 38 year old latina, my family all have big hips and legs. I went on a diet and went from 160 to 132 lbs. and I am still being criticized of my lower part of my body being bigger. It will always be like that. Its incredibly unbelievable that ladies are so harsh. Not even in high school was I picked on as now with Adult women. Did their mother not teach them respect or are they just that miserably that they need to make others feel bad to make themselves feel better?
    The funny thing is that this 42 yr old spends hundreds on a personal trainer to help her plump up her butt and legs. cause she was always flat as a board. How ironic!
    I am 135 now and we still have people like dontaxlikeudontnoitsme must have incredibly good genes to keep skinny. Let me tell you. I was 160 but I was healther and stronger then any 125lb. My sugar level, my cholesterol, my blood pressure was excellent. Now I feel week and like Im going to pass out at times. Although I lost weight the healthy way of eating right and exercising. So you cannot judge by weight.

    • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

      I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that dontaxlikeudontnoitsme isn’t thin. I think they tell theirself the same crap they told us here, every day. That makes me sad.

  9. Avatar Janice says:

    I am on prednisone 40 mg a day for lung disease. It has put the pounds on me regardless of my efforts to not gain. I also take a low dose chemo for the same lung disease that has spread into my joints and nerve fibers.

    Back in may I hurt my right ankle falling on a rotted step. I was in a cast twice and a cam boot twice then ankle brace. Compensating for the right ankle put stress on the left leg causing a fractured tibia.

    I was in the hospital for three weeks and sent home in a boot on the left leg. See the doctor in two weeks. Here’s the SELF part. I see the orthopedist which I only saw once in the hospital. He takes the boot off and tells me to go home without any protection on the broken tibia. I said I can’t do that. Doctor said well your legs are too big. I don’t have anything that would fit a leg your size. I don’t have anything that large. It would be a special order for a leg that big. I’m sorry I’m doing the best I can to help you but the size of your leg makes it difficult. We’re your legs this big when you hurt the right ankle?

    Now I am in tears and he is still going on about the size of my legs
    He humiliated me, made me feel the size of a pea, I told him I know they are big I see it every day I didn’t need him to remind me.
    Not a good bedside manner to say the least.

    Shouldn’t Doctors be better schooled on patient/people feelings, humility, just plain old making people feel bad. Terrible way to be treated. I’m suffering enough with all I have going on health wise without the doctor telling me my legs are big. My SELF esteem is shattered. I feel ashamed of how I look. Thanks dr.

    • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

      Prednisone didn’t put the pounds on you. Eating more calories than you burn put the pounds on you.

      Lots of people with PCOS, taking steroids (Like prednisone), and even those with Down syndrome have either lost weight, or kept it off. Blaming those things is just making excuses for yourself.

      • Avatar Babs says:

        Wow! Again, you’re shaming. Just stop being a total B.

        • Avatar Babs says:

          Just because you reacted a certain way to a medication does NOT mean that everyone else will too. I began taking a medication that they were trying for my PCOS, Metformin. Most people lose weight on it but I still gained. I went down to a 1100 cal diet while I was on it and still gained. So please, just stop judging someone you don’t even know.

          • Avatar Jenn says:

            I take prednisone and many other drugs for a double lung transplant and I have also gained weight (8-10 lbs)since that became a part of my daily regimen. My doctors say it’s not only the weight gain from prednisone but where you carry “prednisone weight”. According to my team, it tends to accumulate more in your belly and face. Its nit to “blame” it’s just a fact of life. I don’t like that I am heavier than before but I am active and alive and that’s good enough for me right now! I just for the life of me cannot understand how people can judge when they haven’t walked in a person’s shoes. Think before you speak. Why be so judgy? Take it from me LIFE IS TOO SHORT!!!

          • Avatar live and let live says:

            Taking prednisone in large doses, over long periods of time WILL make a person gain weight and as Jenn stated, prednisone changes where the fat is accumulated. I was a petite 105 lbs 5’1 woman with slight curves in all the right places. After being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing a transplant, I had to take large doses of prednisone. I will be taking prednisone for life. It keeps me alive. No amount of exercising or dieting will help my “moon face”, or fat accumulated around my belly, as opposed to my thighs. People have no idea what others go through and are so quick to judge.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Prednisone doesn’t make one gain weight. Eating more calories than your body burns does.

            While corticosteroids may lower your TDEE, the real reason is you are eating calories in excess of your TDEE. Them’s the facts.

          • Avatar Jenn says:

            I am wondering if you are a registered dietician or maybe even a transplant surgeon or doctor or any kind of medical professional who prescribes or works with people who are on high doses of prednisone for long periods of time. If so, I would like to PICK YOUR BRAIN, because I have spoken with every professional in the transplant arena about nutrition and drug interactions and if you really are the end all be all knowledge on prednisone and weight gain I would love to pick your brain about nutrition, drugs and saying “fit.” It never occurred to me after being under the care of one of the most prestigious transplant teams in the world that I may have missed something by not scanning comment feeds on the Internet. You seem to have one response for everyone that you post to so your argument must end there.

          • Avatar Jenn says:

            Congratulations on your transplant live and let live! I am sorry you have had to fight the cancer fight but it’s all worth it to be here and present and alive, isn’t it? I know when my family looks at me they don’t see moon face or slightly larger belly.. they see mommy at home in the land of the living and not on my last leg anymore! Merry Christmas! Congratulations again on your recovery!

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            Prednisone doesn’t make you gain weight. Eating more calories than you burn makes you gain weight. Pure and simple.

            Prednisone *may* lower your TDEE, but that just means you need to consume fewer calories. That’s all.

          • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

            If you didn’t lose weight on 1100 cals per day, there were one of three reasons:

            * You underestimated your consumption
            * You overestimated your TDEE
            * A combination of both.

            At 1100 cals per day, I’m leaning towards the first option. This isn’t “judging” this is pointing out facts.

  10. Avatar Mary says:

    I am over weight and I want to lose at least 50 pounds. I was told by a gentian at the bar one night I have a fat ass and I look like the Michelin man. I was very hurt and left the bar crying because it don’t matter what I do I can’t lose or I lose 10 lbs and gain 20

  11. Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

    Well, I do know one of the fitness trainers in the picture is obese. And, going to an obese fitness trainer is akin to taking your car to a mechanic whose own car has an engine that runs like crap, has a tail light out, and has bad brakes. Sure, s/he might do good work, but you really cannot tell.

    • Avatar Aubrey says:

      You can measure her BMI from a newspaper? Impressive.

      You have no clue where she started before she opened this gym with her fellow trainer. Her fitness level may be better than yours because she has been working at it for a while. The article said she has lost a lot since they started thinking about this venture…she is on her own fitness journey and trying to inspire others. You should try that, instead of just cutting people down.

      • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

        You can make a pretty good guess as to her BMI from the photo. She’s obese.

        Her fitness level isn’t better than mine. I have a lower body fat percentage, even accounting for different gender. Body fat is part of fitness, and a key part at that.

        She’s obese. And, going to an obese trainer, is like I said, akin to going to a mechanic who cannot maintain his/her own car. Maybe s/he’s a great mechanic, but you really cannot tell.

    • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

      So… every mechanic ever? *rimshot*

      Seriously, though, have you ever heard the saying “The cobbler’s children go unshod?” Or been to a carpenter’s weird-ass frankenhouse? Or seen some of the haircuts on hairdressers? The mechanics I’ve known (including my dad, etc.) have all driven the rustiest, weirdest, hooniest hoons that ever crapped up the highway.

      • Avatar Paranormal Skeptic says:

        My mechanic always has top notch maintained vehicles… I’m going to guess your dad isn’t a particular good mechanic…

        Carpenters, I’ve never seed a carpenter with a badly built piece of furniture. Never seen a hairdresser with a bad haircut, either.

  12. Avatar Josephine says:

    What a terrible thing to do. My mother always said that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. That woman should have kept her comments to herself. However, I am amazingly proud of how these two women dealt with her awful comments!

    • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

      Your mom’s mentality is what helped America have a 2/3 majority of obese and overweight individuals. Call out the problem so there is motivation to fix the problem!

  13. Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

    Is there anywhere in America where most people are height weight proportionate? I can think of one. The military. In any branch of the military you are going to get measured and shamed for being a fat body. A “disgusting fst body” to be exact. So if shaming does not work, why are our soldiers fit? It’s because they got publically humiliated and are going to do whatever it takes to get right. Consistent body shaming does make progress. Bet that far yoga teacher would be different ifbshe were in the military garunteed because they would shame her to the point that she would never quit until fit. Then there is a certain genre of people who it is very effective for. Fat shaming is not a bad thing. Being fat is not OK. Effective shaming = ppl won’t quit til fit. I was shamed. I turned my life around. I am glad I was shamed.

    • Avatar Kiera DeCanio says:

      Being in the military forces fitness onto a person. There’s no way you can do the things a person does there and not lose weight and gain muscle. It’s not about shaming a person receives, it’s about physical conditioning and the unavailability of anything but a specific diet. Besides, if you have decided to join the military, you have made a decision regarding your lifestyle. You have decided to commit yourself to a strict regimen. These people know what they’re doing and have made the choice for themselves. Please do not use this as proof body shaming works.

    • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

      Also Portland. Lots of fit people there. The weather is mild, everyone likes to go outside and do fun things. There isn’t a formalized program of shaming, as far as I know.

  14. Avatar Tyanna says:

    If people think the woman on the left is fat, their perceptions about body sizes is severely skewed in the wrong direction. That is crazy stupid. That is how eating disorders are born.

  15. Avatar Cathy says:

    Since when is a person’s body anybody’s business? Some people are just hateful and don’t feel good about themselves, so they feel the need to tear someone else down in order to prop themselves up. If they only had a clue. Don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked in their shoes. You have no idea what they’ve gone through in their life and how hard they might be working. Some people’s bodies may be thin, but could be very unhealthy on the inside. Since we can’t can’t see their unhealthiness, somehow we think they are superior to someone with a larger body. Crazy! I’d rather have a larger body than a mind as small as the some of the haters.

  16. Avatar Diana says:

    Bravo for the owners of Barre East Studio! You handled the situation like champions and turned it into an opportunity for yourselves and many of us who are struggling with weight issues. Your efforts make me want to join a gym and get started. Thank you for your courage.

  17. Avatar Shelia says:

    One thing I know is that God has made us all, some short, some tall, some thin, some over weight, some black, some white, some brown, some yellow. He declares in his word: That we are wonderfully made. When thinking about physical shapes we believe that they give us a certain power. The reality is that the power that we have and exercise come first from God and second from our thoughts. It’s our thinking that is the problem. What comes from your mouth first comes from your heart (mind). Let us not think to highly or to low of ourselves. Let us think of ourselves as God thinks of us. Precious in his sight. Have a good time re-thinking this discussion.

    • Avatar HorseChestnut says:

      Shelia, you have a wonderful attitude and a beautiful smile. You go do your Zumba, love it, be proud, and if some jerk is offended at the sight of YOUR god-given body, that’s between them and god. You’re wonderful.

  18. Avatar BostonRocks says:

    It is unfortunate that this type of response to a new business opening is acceptable behavior on the part of the sender; although her/his apology does send a message that she/he realized she/he did the wrong thing.
    It is so easy to be judgemental in society today; so easy to login and post a blog and state your opinions, a lot of times without any thought to how it will affect others. But this response took time and it appears that it was snail mailed bringing me to the conclusion that it was carefully crafted with all of the arrows and negative comments. I venture to guess that the apology came after the sender realized she/he was known and wanted to crush any future attacks on her/his person.
    In this season of giving, hopefully we can all come together and rid this world of the hatred, judgemental, self serving behaviors that were expressed in this instance,

  19. Avatar Herb Sewell says:

    The “classy” way to respond to “body shaming” is either to ignore it entirely, or consider the possibility that if it affects you so much, you don’t have a sufficient sense of self-esteem because you also believe that you are fat. Then, consider whether this insecurity is based on reality, and then if it is, work to lose those pounds, you fucking fatass.

    • Avatar dontaxlikeudontnoitsme says:

      Yes! Thank you. We must consider if the issue is based on reality and if so you better do something or feel the shame. Laziness and gluttony is shameful.

  20. Avatar Jenn says:

    I would just like to say that “Barre East” appears to be a great place of acceptance for all people to work out! I would love to find a place in my town that fostered this kind of loving accepting environment for all who are there to work out. I tend to avoid places like this because I never know what I am walking into and I have other insecurities about not being able to keep up or other stuff that I own. Thank you ladies for starting the discussion, we obviously have a long way to go!

  21. Avatar Cody says:

    I personally love seeing normal looking women at the gym or for advertising because it says to me ” Hey if she can do this so can I” As someone who has also struggles with their weight their whole life it takes a tole. If you have never been overweight you have no clue what its like so don’t even try to say you understand or we should take it as criticism. There is a big difference between a certified nutritionist saying ” Listen you are obese and something needs to be done” versus some punk ass teenager or adult making snide comments about how you look. I still believe this to be true those that criticize others are usually insecure in themselves and so they lash out at others. If you want to be encouraging next time you are working out go up to someone and say “Hey you are doing an awesome job I’ve seen you working hard keep it up!” You have no idea how much things like that help. Going to the gym can be scary and intimidating especially if you are just beginning a weight loss journey or have never been to a gym.

  22. Avatar Jessica says:

    Shaming in general (for anything) would go away faster if Americans remembered to just mind their own business. We have a culture that has to comment on everything and we think our comments matter because we are *so* right and our opinions are super important. In fact, I don’t think I have heard anyone say “just stay out of that…that’s this individual’s private business,” in at least a decade. I could stand to shut up more. I think most of us could. In the meantime….our easy access to food full of fillers and preservatives has made us sick. Our fast paced overachieving (on things that don’t matter) lifestyle has made us sick. Chemicals that permeate everything we eat or touch have made us sick. Packing our schedules so full of dumb stuff and leaving no room for exercise or healthy sleep has made us sick. Social media that encourages anger about everyone and everything has made us sick. These women in this article are trying to choose health for themselves- and anyone who decides to attack them for it is (you guessed it) sick.

  23. Avatar Amy L Denton says:

    wow Paranormal Skeptic. A lot of people gain weight on different meds. I personally know people with a super high metabolism that couldn’t gain weight until they went on prednisone, not all weight gain in this world is from over eating.

  24. Avatar Fitch says:

    I have a different problem, but similar…I belong to a Jazzercize studio. The owner, whom I introduced to Jazzercize, blatantly ignores me, does not allow me to count classes for contests if I am even a few minutes late for class, and will talk to everyone else in the class, and not me. Also she will ridicule what I wear while she is teaching. I am dedicated, go to class everyday, but do have to work around a busy business and volunteer work. When other students walk into class, she greets them by name but ignores me…I surely know what discrimination feels like! I refuse to quit even though I am treated this way…I am in great shape, I am strong, and I promote her program… Oh, the final straw is that if any students are in the newspaper, she posts the article on the door of her office. I was recently featured on the front page of our local newspaper and had photos inside the paper too. She did not post my article, and it was a positive story about my volunteer work in our community. What is wrong with this person, and how do I deal with an owner/instructor who is openly abusive toward me? The really ironic detail is that she is a minister’s wife!

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