I’ll never forget the first time I was Ess Jay DoubleYou’ed. Of course I’m referring to social justice warriors: SJW’s. Back in 1998 I had no idea, nor did I care, what that was. I was the Group Fitness Director for a large chain of fitness clubs in Calgary, Alberta so my focus was on……well….group fitness, not virtue signalling.
I had just finished teaching a class and was chatting with some straggling participants, while simultaneously packing up all my gear. There was fifteen minutes between each class, so that gave all instructors plenty of time to get themselves organized and depart so that the next class could begin on time. I greeted the next instructor with a big smile. I really liked her. A tall blonde with an athletic build, she was a great hire. The members loved her and she never gave me any problems with lateness or subbing.
This was her first class since she had flown to a small Asian country for a two week holiday. She looked fantastic. All rested and brown as a berry. As we had a few minutes, I asked her how her trip was and she was so enthusiastic in her reply. She explained how she went backpacking, hiking, and camping. She described how the people lived and worked, and then told me about the infrastructure. Bad roads, spotty electricity and questionable sanitary conditions in many places. I was horrified. I told her how awful that sounded and how lucky we were here in Canada. She paused for a second (probably wondering if it was wise to potentially piss off her boss) and then said, in an indignant voice that only a twenty something can muster, “Gail, it’s not awful, it’s just different.”
I remember smirking and saying, something like: “Okay, if you mean AWFULLY different.” And that was that. I left and thought nothing more of it, other than to recount the story to my husband that night at dinner. To me it was simple. Clean water is better than dirty water. Not different, better. Having a working toilet inside my home is better than an outhouse. Not different, better. I could go on, but you get my point. I felt lucky that I lived in a country where all those things, and more, were available. When I said the conditions were awful, I certainly did not mean that the country was awful. Far from it. Where she went was, and is, a gorgeous country, but with severe socioeconomic and infrastructure problems. That is just a fact. A fact that persists to this day.
I was thinking about this today because a friend sent me this article. I should have realized the piece would be of the whackadoodle variety as soon as I saw that it came from Everyday Feminism, plus my friend inserted a large string of “rolling on the floor laughing” emoji’s in the message as well. Everyday Feminism currently has a special header on it’s home page that had me hysterically laughing, which pissed me off because I spat out some of my delicious hot latte in my ensuing mild convulsions.
For those of you curious, but not enough to expose yourself to the eye bleaching you will need after going to their website, allow me to show you their earnest pleading: “Dear Beloved Reader, we’re going to be real with you. We’re asking you to join our membership program so we can become fully financially sustainable (and you get some cool perks too!) With dropping ad rates across the media industry, we’re at continuous risk of shutting down. AND WE DON’T WANT YOU TO FACE TRUMP AND HIS KIND WITHOUT THE UNIQUE RESOURCES WE PROVIDE. If everyone reading this only gave $10, we could raise enough money for the entire year in just one day. That’s right, with the price of a single lunch out, you can save us. We’re an independent feminist media site, led entirely by people of color, and that pays everyone who writes for us. If Everyday Feminism has been useful to you, please take one minute to keep us publishing the articles you’ve come to rely on us for. Thank you! Click here to join!”
Oh Lord! That alone should have prompted me to just text my friend to tell her not to send me links that inadvertently expose me to neurotically overblown tripe. Honestly, those poor employees at EF must work in a constant state of agitated nervousness.
After I cleaned up my slight coffee spill, I went ahead and clicked on the article, which is called 6 Ways to Respect Your Fat Friends While Discussing Your Fitness Regimen. I saw immediately why she had sent it to me as we had just been discussing how SJW’s think it is perfectly fine to tell us fitness Neanderthals how horrid we are when we truthfully tell someone they are fat, but they can fix it. Apparently their opinions are the only ones that count, and the fact that we have science based evidence backing up our opinions means nothing because we are not being FAIR. We are Fatphobics who don’t care about feelings while we systematically oppress fat individuals.
If you can slog your way through the opinion piece (because I really should not call it an article as it has not one bit of science based evidence within it) without rolling your eyes hard, congratulations. Just the headings alone are breathtaking in their arrogance.
1. Get Consent Before Beginning a Conversation About Weight, Fitness, or Food
Ermm…..noooooo. Human beings have conversations all the time about unremarkable things. For the vast majority of people, weight, fitness and food are unremarkable subjects. For a large number of people, those same subjects are actually interesting to them and they want more knowledge about them. If for some reason you don’t want to talk about those things, simply state that. The onus is on YOU, not me. YOU are the one with the issue. Not me. I’ll get consent from you on a release form before I start coaching you, but that’s about the extent of it. I don’t assume every overweight person I come into contact with are delicate snowflakes that will be triggered into a meltdown should the subject of Zumba be brought up. In fact, most of my friends and family that are overweight are extremely resilient people that would look at me weirdly if I asked them permission to discuss my latest 10k PR. Again: You are the one with the issue, learn to vocalize politely if the mere mention of a turkey burger with fries catapults you into a conversation you’re tremendously uncomfortable with. I won’t care. I’ll shut up.
2. Be Careful of Equating Weight Loss to Health
According to the author, merely suggesting that you should be a healthy weight is a form of violence. Yes, let that sink in for a bit. That’s how far off the rails commonsense thinking has gone, at least for progressives. Apparently when those dumbass doctors focus on weight loss, it leads directly to the harming of fat people. Those doctors are upholding the social STIGMA that assumes a fat body is unhealthy. Well, silly me, but I’m sticking with science based evidence, and it is overwhelmingly in favor of a healthy weight being optimum for a thriving and productive LONG life. If you’d care to read articles that are based solidly on fact, science, and reality there is this one from Science Daily, this one from the International Journal of Epidemiology, this one from the British Heart Foundation, this one also from The British Heart Foundation, this one from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this one also from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and this one from Imperial College London. The absolute gall of those limeys! What do those British bastards know anyway? They eat deep fried fish and chips, right? Regardless, for me, I’m going to stick with renowned journalists like Alex Hutchinson who writes regularly about the monumental body of research around health and fitness. Sometimes that means he calls bullshit. I’m SO good with that. Clearly someone has to.
3. Don’t Play into the ‘Good Fatty’ Trope
I don’t know anyone who thinks being fat, or not being fat, is a moral issue. That doesn’t mean people don’t exist who do think this way, as clearly the author does, but once again, political correctness is trying to make a very simple issue into a complicated one. Occams’s Razor anyone? I run. A lot. When I’m out running and pass other runners, I always wave. I always smile. I completely understand the dedication and determination it takes to decide to take care of your body by exercising. Running is one of the hardest ways, both physically and mentally, to do this. I’m a fitness professional, so I get to say that. Also notice that I wrote ONE of the hardest ways. I did not write THE HARDEST way. If I pass a runner who is clearly overweight, I smile a little harder (hoping at the same time I’m not creeping them out), I wave a bit more enthusiastically, and my mind is flooded with positive thoughts and goodwill. I love that person at that moment. I’m not going to apologize for that or attach an electric collar to my neck and zap myself every time I have those feelings. The author states that an example of a comment that is “Good Fatty” trope is: “It’s always so encouraging to see overweight people at the gym.” Why yes, Yes it is. I’m always filled with a sense of admiration and a renewed determination to put in even more effort with myself. I am not going to say sorry for that. It also absolutely does not mean I am sneering at those fat folks who choose not to go to the gym. It’s none of my business, unless they ask for my help. Just because you admire a quality in a thin person, doesn’t mean you hate all thin people without that same quality. Why do ALL feminists have to suck? (See what I did there?) Other examples of “Good Fatty” trope are: “I never cheat, and I work out every day, but I’m still not losing weight.” LIAR!!! “I’m going to have to go for a run after this meal!” Big deal. I say this all the time. Who cares? The fact is that if I want to maintain the body and fitness level that I have, when I eat an indulgent meal, I know exactly what I must do. Go for a run! I don’t sneer at people who eat an indulgent meal and then don’t work out. It’s called having a choice.
4. Think Twice Before Posting Before and After Photos on Social Media
Whaaaaatttttt? Now the author is coming after my social media? Is nothing sacred!!!??? Apparently before and after pictures are are a form of fat-shaming and they imply that the thinner body in the after photo is better than the fat body in the before photo. OMG!! I officially need a google spreadsheet to keep track of all my horribleness! Personally, I don’t post before and after pics. Not my thing. I have plenty of Instagram friends who do post them, and I enjoy looking at them. If I did not enjoy looking at them, I’d simply stop following them. It would not occur to me to order my friends not to post them. See, the onus is on the person who doesn’t like “before and after” pictures, not to look at them. According to the author, who apparently has some sort of major insight into the human psyche, by liking to look at my friends latest before and after pictures, it shows that I’m harboring some internalized fatphobia. Meehhhh. For me, it’s exactly like so many other things in life. If you don’t like the programming, turn it off. If you don’t like the restaurant, don’t go. If you don’t like the store, don’t shop there. It doesn’t have to get all melodramatic. Simple is best. You score extra points for keeping your opinion to yourself. Clearly, I never earn extra points……To give the writer her due, she does point out this: “Whether consciously or not, you believe that a thinner body is somehow more desirable than a fatter body. Otherwise, why would before and after pictures that show shrinking bodies motivate your actions?” She’s completely correct. While I don’t speak for other people, because I can’t, I do believe a thinner body is more desirable than a fatter body. Your mileage may vary on that one.
5. Emphasize Why Wellness Is Important to You (Aside From Your Weight)
I unreservedly agree with the author here, at least until the first part of her last sentence. She almost completed me….
I think it’s a great idea to talk about how you feel during and after your workout, though for me, I am more positively effusive in the after phase. Sometimes during I want to stop and smell some roses, which is NOT good for my VO2 max. The author thinks it’s a great idea to talk about beating your PR in your last race! Eureka! Turns out that I am a PR dropper. That’s like a name dropper. Equally obnoxious at times, but hopefully more motivating because it’s about health and wellness! If anyone even shows a smidgen of interest, I’m always mentioning how I usually come in first, second or third in my age group in every race I enter! Yes, it actually does sound obnoxious! I can’t help it though. I’m 57. I NEED this. In all seriousness, I am entirely down with discussing progress and goals, how aches and pains are starting to wane, and how stamina is increasing. However, as I mentioned at the top of this section, the author had to ruin it by writing that this kind of behavior will make fat people feel safer around me. Le sigh….Everyone can feel safer around me because I’m not going to murder them. I’m just talking, and they can walk away if they find me offensive. Hey….come back!!!
6. Recognize That People Who Choose Not To Prioritize Wellness In This Way Aren’t Wrong
Well, no kidding. Why would they be wrong? If you choose not to make health and wellness a priority, that’s your business. However, keep in mind that you reap what you sow. There are consequences to not prioritizing wellness, the least of which is being wrong about your decision. The main failing of this entire article is that the author
implies explicitly states that the onus is on everyone but the fat person to make the fat person happy and comfortable. The author goes completely Kim Jong-un when she states that “Saying things along the lines of “It’s everyone’s responsibility to exercise and take care of themselves” dismisses those who are taking care of themselves by not exercising or counting calories.” Whaaaaaattt? Let’s make this simple. If you choose, which is your absolute right, not to exercise and to eat whatever you want, then you absolutely are not taking care of yourself. The author postulates that it may be that the mental health of a fat person is dependent on avoiding exercise altogether because “it can remind us of a time in our lives when we felt helpless or terrorized by our weight. In some of us, exercise may even trigger eating disordered thoughts or behaviors.” Hmmmm, perhaps that is true, but isn’t life about overcoming obstacles? Isn’t life about achieving healthy and positive changes to our wellness and health so that we can participate in life? Doesn’t participating in life make us happy and productive human beings?
If I sound like a psychiatrist that’s because even though I’m not one, I could easily play one on TV because this is exactly what a psychiatrist told me when I was overcome with depression after my cancer diagnosis. I withdrew from life. I stopped exercising. I ate like crap. I was useless. Even in the depths of my despair, I knew that my decisions were not good ones. I allowed no one to “trigger” me. I did, as all people are capable of doing, pull up my big girl panties and sought help. I got it. I overcame it. You know how that made me feel? Powerful. I wish I could bottle that up. I’d only give it to people who WANT to be healthy, though. Clearly it is wasted on those who would rather blame others for being terrorized by the toxic health and wellness culture.
I’ll leave you with the authors opening remarks followed by my rebuttal. She wrote that she learned about “exercise as I imagine most girls did: in relation to weight loss. Fitness and exercise were never explained to me as ways to reward my body. I never learned that exercise could be fun. Because I was fat as a child, I instead learned from the adults around me that exercise was primarily a punishment for eating – a punishment I deserved because I was fat.”
Here’s the hard truth. If that’s the way you learned about exercise, I have GREAT news for you. You are now an adult, and you can change your thought patterns, if you truly desire to. It is not easy, but as individuals we can all seriously address the issues leading to our current levels of obesity. As a fitness expert, I’m going to continue to make every effort to advise as many people as possible to make positive lifestyle changes and to let people know that the idea that you can be healthy when you are overweight or obese, even if your blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol levels are normal, is a big fat myth.