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Fit Shaming = The New Fat Shaming

In today’s world we see a lot of body positive campaigns, encouraging women of all colors, size and backgrounds to love the skin they’re in and embrace their natural bodies, which is great considering that there's so much pressure from the media and magazines for women to feel they need to meet a certain standard.

I firmly believe and agree that everyone should experience the joys of self - love and self acceptance. It’s no doubt that fat-shaming and negativity towards obesity can tear a woman down, but fit shaming can do the same exact thing.

Having spent the last nine years involved in fitness , and recently competing for the past two years, I’ve experienced fit shaming at different intensities throughout my fitness journey, and a lot of the “fit-shamers” see nothing wrong with their actions and comments. For a long time and even now I still wonder why people feel so negative towards me doing something that makes me healthier and improves the quality of my life and others ... but let's hope this article gives the fit-shamers some insight.

They go out of their way to offer their unsolicited comments and opinions

I’ve read comments on my social media over and over saying “ you should stop working out” and “ you’re too much” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them having opinions of my body, I do think it’s wrong for them to go out of their way to share their opinions on my page- when I didn’t ask. Everyone would lose their minds and I’d be labeled as a monster if I were to go under some of the commenters photos and say “ Hey you’re morbidly obese, and will probably end up with a chronic disease” or “ Hey, you should ease up on the donuts, they go straight to your thighs” We as a society have become more accepting of fit shaming than fat shaming when they both can be equally detrimental to a person’s mental health.

Backhanded compliments roll off of their tongues easily

Entering the fitness world, one of the immediate things I noticed were backhanded compliments. Like “ wow most women who lift look manly, but you really rock those muscles” or “ I wish I had the time to make the commitment you do” and “ You don’t have a real job so you can dedicate your time to the gym” I’d imagine it’s similar to overweight people hearing “ You’re pretty for a big girl” or “ I wish I had your confidence “when a plus sized girl is wearing something revealing. There’s nothing flattering about backhanded compliments.

People assume that you’re taking extreme and unhealthy measures

When preparing for shows, people notice my fat loss and assume that I’m on some crazy diet or taking unhealthy measures so they make comments like “ You should eat some real food” and “ Why are you doing this to yourself” When in reality I’m eating very “real food” very frequently. I am a lot more disciplined in my portions, water intake and strict in my training but my health is always a priority like most competitors I know.

Women who lift have a tougher time than men who do.

Society has labeled men as strong and powerful , and women as frail and weak so when women with muscles walk in it’s usually a shock and a lot of people get offended. But if a man walks in and has no muscles- though it would be absolutely fine if he did- it’s still acceptable and he’s not seen as any less of a man. But the woman with muscles is immediately labeled as manly or less of a woman. Don't get me wrong, I know men in fitness who are subject to the stereotypes and undesirable labels as well but women still have a rougher time.

What fit shaming has taught me

Fit shaming has taught me that the “love yourself regardless of what you look like” has it’s restrictions for who society thinks should believe it .

It’s taught me to delete and block negativity often and to surround myself with people who appreciate me for who I am and understand what I do, and why I do it. People are often quick to assume and judge me based on what I look like, but have no idea what fitness means to me and has got me through, but they go on to make hurtful remarks and put me down. The best response to the negativity is to remove it from my sight and move on. I know I don’t stand alone in this, as a lot of women in the fitness community have faced similar challenges and some probably worst but I hope that this article brings awareness to people and makes them think twice before giving another backhanded compliment or writing hurtful words under a instagram photo, because under the muscles and gym clothes is a woman, with feelings and emotions and a heart of gold.

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