Dear Media: Stop Exploiting Our Fear of Fat
I did the thing you're not supposed to do before you go to bed and I checked Twitter. And then I saw this tweet from Shape Magazine that made me want to light things on fire.
I looked at the picture and then the caption...Then back I looked the picture again...And then I re-read the caption.
And I felt my blood start to boil.
And my fingers started typing and before I knew it, I was using the F-word and wagging my self-righteous and enraged body positive finger Shape Magazine. Shaming them for perpetuating the idea that if you're larger, you aren't healthy or strong.
Look, the article itself isn't terrible: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid stress, and take care of yourself. It's pretty sound advice.
Here's what I find frustrating:
Publications capitalizing on our fear of fat.
For decades, we've watched a multi-billion dollar weight loss industry change the way we see perceive health. Honestly, the health vs. weight debate became so exaggerated and abused that we stopped leading healthy lifestyles and we became obsessed with thinness.
And we're still falling for it! Honestly, I'm tired of watching the mainstream media do little to stop the abuse. I'm tired of seeing women who are already showing up and leading healthy, active lifestyles shamed for not being thin.
When I look at the picture Shape used to promote that reckless tweet, I see myself.
I literally see a body that looks just like mine. The only difference? The body you see on your right no longer buys into the fear and shame that the one on the left is selling.
For over a decade, I was consumed with my weight. My body image was so warped that when it came time to actually learn what health and strength looked and felt like, it took years to unlearn the fear and shame I associated with my weight.
Today, I run marathons and I still struggle! That's one of the reasons why I started the #SportsBraSquad. The only way we'll redefine what strength looks like is if we see the diverse range of body types kicking ass and taking names.
I'm tired of seeing publications portray a body type that isn't conventionally thin as unhealthy. Weight isn't the issue, health is. And health looks different on everybody.
I'm sure this tweet was scheduled by some overworked editorial assistant or even a social media intern. They probably didn't think twice about grabbing a stock photo of a woman who isn't conventionally thin running. But we have to do better. We have to stop capitalizing on our fear's of fat.
Change doesn't happen unless we have these conversations. Obsessing over your weight is the fastest way to develop unhealthy habits. But eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting active in ways that empower you? That's what health looks and feels like.
Stop using my body type to exploit our fear of fat.
Come hell or high water, we will redefine what strength looks and feels like.