Body Shaming – Needs to stop! My personal weight journey

For anyone that follows me on my socials, may be aware that I have spoken out about body shaming before. While I have spoken about body shaming in passing on previous posts, it isn’t something that I have really wrote a whole blog on, bizarrely. Well until now that is.

This is a very personal subject for me because I have been a victim of body shaming, regardless of how I look (I shall explain more later). In return, I have had to deal with eating disorders and body insecurities. Something that I am still dealing with now.

What I want to get through from this post is two things mainly. Firstly, don’t be a dick, and shame people for the way they look. Secondly, we all have different body preferences in the people that we are attracted to. Just because you don’t look like the photoshopped Adonises that appear in mags or Joe Bloggs on Insta, doesn’t mean that people don’t find you attractive.

Fat shaming

Fat shaming is the most common that everyone has heard when it comes to body shaming. And society thinks it’s acceptable to tell a stranger that they’re fat and need to do something about it. But at the end of the day, it is none of your fucking business!

You’re not helping the situation (even if you think you are). It’s not your place to fat shame anyone! This is a conversation for the said individual and their doctor.

We don’t know this person’s background. There could be a medical reason for being that weight. There could be a mental illness, that has caused them to be overweight (food being their comfort when low). But I have something to tell you, they know that they are overweight. They don’t need you to tell them.

And here is something else, not everyone wants to be slim or muscular. Some like the additional padding that they have, and people are attracted to that too.

In the same respect people who are overweight, might not be happy and if they want to improve themselves then they can. However, I’ve seen and heard disgusting toxic comments when they go to a gym or out running. We all need to start somewhere, support them; not laugh at them.

Gymshark

While strolling through the socials, I came across a post where someone was commenting in disgust about a recent Gymshark Instagram post. Not the post itself, but the disgusting toxic body shaming comments being added to the post. People said they would unfollow or no longer buy from Gymshark because of it.

Now, I’ve looked at Gymshark’s profile and its posts are part of the issue too. However, if we are going to start seeing additional posts like this, then I have to applaud them. Because not everyone who buys their gear looks like their images.

Now, let’s not lie, there is an issue with obesity in society. The World Health Organisation confirmed that there 39% of adults are overweight and 13% were obese. And this does need to be tackled, but it a more respectful way that calling someone out.

But it should be highlighted, that these stats use Body Mass Index (BMI) to class people’s weight status. So people who go to the gym and are nice and muscular can technically be classified as overweight.

Chris Hoy, Olympian Cyclist with his 2012 medals

Chris Hoy, an Olympian cyclist, who we would say is fit and athletic, but is overweight! Using the stats on his Wikipedia page (as a guideline), I calculated his BMI to be 26.8. Anything over 25 is overweight. It’s ridiculous because we wouldn’t turn round to Chris and tell him to lose weight!

BMI is not the best thing to use to calculate if someone is obese or not. Your body fat percentage is what you need to look at!

I was fat shamed

I have been fat shamed. Several times! In fact, post lockdown where I have added a little bit of weight, I was getting some body shaming happening. The comments weren’t always meant as an insult but taking into account everything else, it really affected me.

In 1999, I went from an active job to a desk job. Within months, I piled the weight on. In fact, I was close to 13 stone, and the heaviest I have ever been! And while some people would argue that this isn’t heavy, I was clinically classed as overweight!

I remember just being made permanent and going to meet my new team and manager. While speaking to my manager, I overhead one of my future teammates say ‘Maybe for Christmas his parents will buy him new clothes, because he can’t fit in the ones he has now!’.

I was mortified! It knocked me sick. I knew after Christmas I was joining this team, and this is what they thought of me. And I needed to do something about it. So is started dieting, and at Christmas, I faked being ill so I didn’t have to eat Christmas dinner.

For the new year, I went to Gran Canaria, and when I got the photos back from the developers (remember, this was pre-smartphones) I felt absolutely disgusted in how I looked in them. I knew I lost some weight, but I was still overweight.

This is where I started to have issues with food. I started cutting out meals and having less every time that I was eating. I lost the weight and I started to feel good in myself.

In March I went to Gran Canaria again, I felt a lot more comfortable in my body. One of my friends asked if I worked out because I have a v-shape body, I said no. And another friend joked ‘shame it’s covered in fat’.

And though this was meant in jest, because on my underlying weight issue due to the previous body shaming, it made me really question my weight and how I looked. So much so, that my eating habit was just one slice of toast a day. Within a year I was nearly 7 stone!

My belly is where I have the biggest issue. When I put weight on, this is where it goes. It’s also the first thing people point out. I’ve had people poke it and tell me ‘you’ve let yourself go’ or the best one, while in a club someone came up to me pointed to my stomach and went ‘what’s that?’.

Guys this is not acceptable. I’m not overweight, yet people still think they can comment on my body and belittle me like that! Fuck off!

Skinny shaming

Skinny shaming is a thing, and while it’s probably not as common, or recognised, as fat shaming it still happens. And you aren’t necessarily underweight to be a victim of it.

Just like some people who are overweight due to health or mental circumstances the same arises for people on the other side of the weight spectrum.

One of my old managers was on the thin side due to a medical condition, and regardless of what she ate, she could not put weight on. People would tell her that this is a good thing and she was so lucky, but it’s not. Being ill and not being able to put weight on is not a good thing!

Or you can get the blatant rude comments where people tell you to eat something.

@breelynn44

Reply to @jamescanterbury19 No hate, just want to clarify and update those on my page ❤️ #fuckcancer

♬ original sound – Bree Wilson

Additionally, how people perceive and see their bodies is none of your business. If someone puts weight on and makes a comment that they feel fat, this is because they’ve consciously seen changes that they aren’t happy about. What they don’t need is someone, most likely with more padding than them, telling them to shut up and stop looking for attention!

A lot of body shaming when it comes to being skinny, is this subtle type. Like back-handed compliments, or playing down people’s feelings. Obviously there are some outright rude comments too.

What you see, isn’t what I see

I mentioned earlier that due to my eating disorder, I went down to an unhealthy weight. But I didn’t feel like that I was skinny. In fact, I still thought I was overweight. I was offended when people called me a twig because I didn’t feel like I was. I still felt that I was 13 stone and I needed to lose more weight. I didn’t believe my clothes or scales. I felt like I was being lied too.

My relationship with my weight took a horrible turn, and when I started to gain weight again, I was still conscious of how much I put on. As soon as I went over 10 stone, I would stop eating to bring it back down. I would call myself fat because I felt fat!

At the beginning of 2018, and looking through Timehop I came across a photo from 2013 and when I saw the photo I instantly remembered what I was thinking when I took the photo. I felt fat! I was so unhappy with the way that I looked. And this wasn’t at my lightest!

Then and now image of my body when I was skinny, and now I'm more muscular

5 years on, I was now looking at that picture and thinking how skinny I was. I’d conditioned myself to believe that I was fat. And for the first time, I was able to see the truth, and that was because I felt more comfortable in the way that I look. Hence me feeling comfortable in topless pics.

Roll on post-lockdown, and I’m not happy with the way I look. I’ve put on about a stone, and my belly is not forgiving. I’ve purposely never said I was fat (because I would get attacked) and that I have put some lockdown padding on. However, whenever I mention I’m not happy, I’m told that you’ve nothing to worry about. That’s not the point.

Am I the biggest person? No! Am I the skinniest? No. Is it valid that I’m not happy with my body? Yes. Just because someone may have more weight than me, doesn’t mean that my concerns with my weight aren’t valid. Stop trying to downplay how I, and other people, feel!

Fit shaming

The latest body shaming trend that I have seen on recent is people being having muscles or going to the gym. And it’s quite an interesting area where this is happening now. It’s not new, we all know the stereotypes that ‘jocks’ are thick-as. Basically no substance to them apart from muscle.

First of all, let’s discuss the fitness freaks who are body shaming other people. They’re dicks! Not gonna argue with that – just look above to see my view. However, not everyone who has muscles or goes to the gym is like that. So stop treating them like they are.

We live in a society where we are to believe that a toned/muscular body is the desired look. And people are striving at this at all costs. In return, we are seeing an increase in people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). It’s estimated that 1 in 50 people suffer from BDD, and men are least likely to seek support.

We have seen many people posting thirst traps, and as much as this is about narcissism, it’s also about gratification. People post pictures to make themself feel good and have someone say they are, makes them think they are doing something right.

Now, in return, you get people who dislike this and call them out. And this is just as damaging as telling someone they’re fat! Because we don’t know what is going on in their head.

If you don’t like the way that someone looks, do you really have to say you don’t like that? I’ve heard/seen it all. “I don’t like people with 6 packs”, or “I prefer ‘dad bods'”.

The irony of dad bods is that people are using Zac Efron as an example, but he doesn’t have a dad bod. And that can also have a damaging effect on those who actually have dad bods.

People’s body are their own, and while some people play on the thirst (let’s not deny they exist), there are people out there who, despite having a good body, still feel insecure about themselves. So comments can cause additional damage.

You go to the gym, and you will kill people!

I have actually been told by someone they don’t like 6 packs. While I have my 4.5 pack out (yeah I don’t have six). I mean what was the point?

I was in a situation that I stopped mentioning that I was going to the gym, because a certain someone would continuously make fun of me for working out. “For someone who works out, you can’t tell!”, “How can you tell when someone goes to the gym? Because they tell you they’ve gone to the gym”, “People who go to the gym have less time for things that matter!” These are just some of the comments that I received. And at a time where I was starting to feel good in my body, it just made me feel worse.

During lockdown, my gym was doing zoom classes. I tried doing them, but I just felt superconscious. I tried working out on my own, and I just didn’t have the drive. It didn’t help that where I live, also became my workplace. Let alone try and make it a gym too.

So not exercising, affected me mentally, and when it was announced that gyms could re-open, I’ll be honest I couldn’t wait to get back. Being somewhere where I can be pushed is what I need, and I missed.

However, someone that I know decided to give the two-cents by saying people can wait:

Look, for everyone who “can’t wait” to get back to the gyms as they’re re-opening.

A thought: Yes. Yes you can. You absolutely can. You’ve already waited. How is today different? It’s not.

You should be swayed by not wanting to get very sick and/or die, or contribute in causing this for others.

You should be swayed by this shit show of a biased unsafe incompetent psychotic government giving you sudden permission when nothing has materially changed (see: science & health) to use your brain to know This Is Not A Good Idea.

You can exercise literally anywhere else in the world that isn’t a gym. Go do that, if you aren’t already.

Oh, it’s not the same? Get over it. Your muscles/vanity/feelings aren’t more important than a pandemic.

I’ll still be friends with you, even if you’re slightly less jacked.

I’ll still think you’re hot, even if you’re slightly less jacked. I’ll still want to hang out (when it’s safe), even if you’re slightly less jacked.

I won’t think less of you as a person, even if you’re slightly less jacked.

If you’re heavily emotionally invested in gym going, let’s talk about your feelings so I can support you and help you find alternative stuff to do.

You going is you being a Karen. Don’t be a Karen. Or a Garen.

They then left a few spaces before adding…

If I was a bitchy gay I would say certain gays could exercise working on having more of a personality and not just coast on being a hot white cis dude. But I’m not, so I won’t. 😘

I called out the body shaming for what it is, and they didn’t see where I was coming from. Instead, they continued to say that if I went to the gym, then I am killing people I know! This is just toxic, and vile, body shaming.

Fact is, I wouldn’t have returned to the gym unless I thought it was safe to do so. The communication that I had with the gym, showed the steps that they have put in place to make everyone feel safe. And it hasn’t been an issue.

However, my mental state of being locked up was affecting me, and working out with like minded people, helps me de-stress and is a pick-me-up mentally. And it’s proven that exercise is good for your mental health.

Additionally, now I am back at the gym and I’m struggling. I’m definitely not as fit as I used to be, and I mentioned on social media that I’m feeling extremely unfit…because I am.

Someone replied basically telling me to be quiet, as I have abs. First of all, I don’t, that’s the issue! Lockdown has covered them for protection. However, they didn’t know because I haven’t posted a picture with my stomach on show. My bad!

Media

The media, including social media, is extremely responsible for body confidence issues that is in society.

Let’s be honest, a lot of what we see is unrealistic for everybody and sometimes, just not healthy. Models would become anorexic so they could book work. Women’s magazines would continuously criticise celebrities bodies making you question your own.

Men’s magazines are just as bad. These ideal bodies are athletes who watch everything they eat and do. And most likely photoshopped. It’s not realistic for everyone, but we are forced into thinking this is what we need to be like. It sells. And don’t get me wrong, those that work out and have good bodies; good for them.

But I’ve learnt that it will never be me. It just isn’t achievable. Yeah, I would like more than 4.5 abs, bigger arms and a chest to die for, but my relationship with food means I just won’t eat enough to gain the required growth. Now, I just want to be happy in my body.

And when we add being gay into the mix, it’s heightened even more. In a survey by Attitude magazine, it stated that 84% felt under pressure to have a good body. And only 1% considered themselves ‘very happy’. Think about it! That means that there are a lot of people within the LGBT+ community who have good bodies but aren’t happy. That’s scary.

But there is a thin line, we need to be promoting healthy living, but we have to do it in a way so everyone feels good. For years, I would look at these images and want to look like them, but the truth is it’s unrealistic for me. I know now, that I want to be healthy and confident in my body, I’d like to be muscular but I don’t want to be jacked!

Can things change?

But what can be done? Well, we need to start normalising all body types. People should not be made to feel like putting a few pounds on, is the end of them. Or not have the muscle sculpted bodies that you see throughout the press and media, which have most likely been photo-shopped/edited to fuck!

We need to see more advert campaigns, such as Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. We need to see better representation of other body types, such as what we saw with the Pit Crew on Canada’s Drag Race.

But the thing is, this isn’t the norm. And sadly it doesn’t sell. While I was reading Matthew Todd’s Straight Jacket (which I still haven’t finished), he mentioned while editor of Attitude magazine, that the ones that sold less were the ones that didn’t meet this ideal body. We can’t say that what a magazine is offering is toxic, and then not support it when it does change? They have to sell their magazine!

Media also needs to be responsible for what they publish. I remember reading an article on Pink News when an advert popped up in relation to weight loss (I can’t remember if it was pills or surgery). What I found extremely jarring was the size of the model. They were thin and pinching their skin, highlighting how little body fat they had. It felt extremely irresponsible.

On reflection

However you look, you will never be able to please everyone. So stop trying. I’ve said this many times, if you are happy with how you look, then good enjoy and post away. Be confident in who you are. And post away, be proud of you and your body.

If your not, only you can change that. It can take time, and there is correct support out there to do that. Don’t listen to people (which is ironic coming from me, as I still do), but also don’t put yourself in this mantel that you need to look like what you see in the media.

If you’re body shaming other people…you’re a dick! What I’ve learnt, when people are calling you out because of the way they look, it’s because they want to make themselves feel better. There is no other reason for calling someone out unless that is what it’s about. End of!

They are trying to make themselves feel better for that 5 minutes, but the fact is after that time has passed, whatever is eating them up, will still eat them up!

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