It’s just more body-shaming as far as I can see.
One group of people judging a different group of people and making comments designed to shame the other group. This time though it’s the “fat group” coming down on the “fit group”.
In my recent post on fat-shaming I covered how unhelpful and even destructive it is to shame people based on their size and body shape. When overweight and obese people are “fat-shamed” it rarely leads to a helpful change in behaviour. Indeed, it is more likely to result in the opposite.
As I’m sure you know, the emotion of shame is intensely painful.
It brings up feelings of helplessness, incompetence, inferiority, and powerlessness – all stemming from the belief we are flawed to a degree that means we will be shunned and abandoned.
When people and animals are in pain, we do whatever we can to reduce the it. When the pain is intense, we are likely to react unconsciously, often withdrawing or hitting out. Both strategies are an attempt to protect ourselves from further pain. This is be true whether the pain is physical or emotional.
The pain caused by fat-shaming comments results in many people withdrawing; it feels safer staying away from social situations. Others have begun to hit out…
Fat-shaming leads to fit-shaming
Can we be surprised then that there’s a backlash against fat-shaming? Now we observe “fit-shaming” – making deliberately shaming comments towards people with a fit physique. This includes comments like:
You must live in the gym. Seems kinda shallow to me. I have a life.
I have better things to do with my time than go to the gym – like looking after my kids
Real women have curves.
Women aren’t supposed to have muscles / Men don’t like women with muscles
You’re getting too thin
You’re really gonna pass on the birthday cake? You must have an eating disorder
Of course some comments are more damaging or hurtful than others. I don’t want to get into an argument about which is worse – fit-shaming or fat-shaming comments.
The point is to stop making comments designed to shame. Drop the shaming. Any shaming. Stop shaming others and stop shaming yourself.
3 ways to change the focus
1. Instead of looking to shoot people down, try a little compassion. Think of this quote, often attributed to Plato:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle
Everyone is struggling with something. Look for ways to encourage and support others and yourself.
2. Instead of insisting on compliance with restrictive standards for shape and size, focus on health. The messages about what is an okay size and shape for a woman’s body are often restrictive. “Real women have curves”, for example. Oh really? Some women have curves for sure and others not so much. Recognise that there are huge variations in frame size and limb length, muscle density and distribution, as well as metabolism among women. Women come in all different shapes and sizes. Focus on being healthy and understand that having thin thighs and a flat stomach doesn’t necessarily make you healthy but neither does having a muffin top.
3. Instead of shaming, try celebrating. Celebrate the responsiveness of the human body. When this is your focus, if you want to change things you become curious about how to create the change. Now you’ve stepped into problem-solving mode and you are being pro-active. This is the opposite of the helplessness experienced when you feel shame.
Fit-shaming, fat-shaming, body-shaming… Surely these are activities only carried out by people who are unhappy with something in their own lives. If you find yourself shaming others or shaming yourself, it’s time to look within and find out what is going on.
Just imagine the world if we replaced all the body-shaming with encouragement and body-celebration! Different, huh?
Until next time