Responding to body shaming

Responding to body shaming

Last week, some douchebag who was booted off The Bachelorette in the States posted this lovely Tweet:

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Let’s not even get into the fact that CrossFit and powerlifting are not interchangeable and both types of workouts are done by a variety of differently-shaped women, but let’s instead focus on the blatant misogyny encapsulated in this tweet. I know it can be hard for people like Chad to believe, but women do not exist for the sole purpose of being attractive to men. And, shock horror, many of us lift for reasons that have nothing to do with appearance. Finally, for Chad to assume that all men hold the same terrible belief is ignorance at its finest.

Many female lifters responded with cries of outrage and pictures of their “not sexy” bodies all sexed-up (see #tryagainchad on Twitter). While my knee-jerk reaction was also to defend my body type, I didn’t respond until now as my initial burst of anger was merely fleeting. I realised that I didn’t care what some douche who I’d never heard of thought of my – or any other woman’s – body. By responding to him, he’s only receiving more publicity and more money.

Yes, she's hot, but she doesn't need to prove that to anyone.

Yes, she’s hot, but she doesn’t need to prove that to anyone.

And yes, I realise the irony of stating the above while devoting an entire blog post to him. Moving on…

When you are confident in your body and have a strong, healthy self-esteem, you don’t need to justify your appearance to anyone. You shouldn’t have to send pictures to a random asshole, begging him to recognise your sexiness and femininity. You should never wait for validation that will never arrive.

The best way to deal with these kinds of scenarios is to ignore them, and let these C-list celebrities fade into complete obscurity.

I am far from being a celebrity, but I still receive criticism about my body. Once a week or so, someone will pop up to leave a negative comment on one of my old blog posts.

Most memorably, someone recently told me that the only reason why I am confident in my own body and proud of my lifting achievements is because I’m too lazy to get a six pack. Uh huh. And, a week ago, someone left this comment on Is Weight Lifting Manly?, which I posted all the way back in 2012:

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Reading the article back, I don’t see how anything I said comes across as being insecure. What’s funny is that four years ago I had significantly less muscle mass than I do now! And, for the record, I have no trouble getting guys in my “manly” state, haha.

While I always publish all the comments I receive, I generally don’t bother responding to comments such as the above because my time is too valuable for that. In my experience, those who are the most critical of others usually have low self-esteem themselves and getting into arguments with them really doesn’t accomplish much.

Speaking as someone who has suffered from poor body image in the past, the only thing that really helps to change such destructive opinions is time and self-love. When you are confident and happy, you don’t spend your time tearing down others.

Aside from online negativity, I also receive a seemingly never-ending stream of comments about my body in my real life. I spend the majority of my time in Europe, where it is still highly unusual to see women lifting weights. I don’t think a day goes by where someone doesn’t comment on my muscle mass or “bizarre” training style.

95 per cent of the time I just shrug it off, because I don’t need to defend myself to anyone. At various times in my life, I have been told that I am too fat, too thin and, now, too muscular. I only stopped taking those comments to heart when I started lifting, as doing so filled me with confidence and a new-found appreciation for my body.

What’s funny about the whole scenario with Chad is that he later tweeted this, somehow thinking it would improve the situation?! (And also note the hashtag – this boy ain’t dumb!)

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Not that it has ever been done, but I see nothing negative about “chicks” squatting 1000lbs. Women throwing around heavy weights is freaking awesome (not that I’m biased or anything!). Powerlifters come in all shapes and sizes, and their appearance doesn’t correlate with the amount they squat. Someone is obviously scared of having his ass handed to him by a woman.

There will always be ignorant assholes making comments about women’s bodies, both online and in the real world. If that person has no relevance to your life, ignore their comments and move on. Own your confidence and don’t engage with them. Trolls love drama and you only feed into it by responding.

Never feel like you have to justify what you look like to another person. If you don’t fit in with society’s ideas of conventional beauty, recognise that you are beautiful in your own right and understand that embracing your appearance with no fucks given will help to progress women’s place in society.

Every man and woman on the planet has their own opinion as to what they find attractive, and we shouldn’t try to dictate how others feel. However, we can hope that no one shames another person because they don’t fall in line with what they personally find attractive.

Of course, if you are close to someone in real life who is making negative comments about your body, that’s a whole different issue entirely.

If you find yourself making disparaging comments about others, ask yourself why you might be doing so, and make a conscious effort to be more mindful. I can almost guarantee you that you will feel happier about yourself when you stop critiquing others.

Have you ever dealt with body shaming? How did you deal with it?

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