In one of my online groups, a woman told a story about working on the leg press at her gym and caught some teens filming her and laughing. She felt such shame, she wasn’t able to confront them nor report them to management.
A couple years ago, a playboy model took a snickering selfie in the locker room of her gym with a larger older body in the background and the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”
A few years ago, a woman who had been coming to my fitness (not yoga) classes for years was talking about a family member who was large and seemed to have a difficult time moving. She then said to me, “At least you’re not so big that you can’t move.”
A trans friend was told they were not welcome in a gym – that their body in transition made others uncomfortable.
Although I rarely talk about it, it’s not a secret that I live in a large body. I have always lived in a large body. I will likely always live in a large body.
Let me tell you, it has not always been easy to live in a large body. But, I don’t want to make this about me and my experiences. I want this to be about the right for every BODY to simply exist in public spaces without being harrassed, shamed or unwelcomed.
Bodies of Color
I could go on. I am sure that there are more types of bodies that have been shamed I could add to the list. If you live in a body that differs from our current cultural expectations, then you have likely experienced body shaming of one kind or another.
I am thankful that I have not experienced a deeply shameful event like I hear about from so many other larger bodied people. But saying I’m thankful I have not been deeply shamed in public for my body is like saying I’m thankful I haven’t been sexually assaulted. NOT being harmed in the way so many people are is not something to be grateful for. It’s something that should be the norm.
Here’s the thing that we all need to understand, without any qualification:
ALL BODIES ARE WORTHY.
A smaller body is no more worthy than a larger body. A blond body is no more worthy than a redhead. A male body is no more worthy than a female body. A muscular body is no more worthy than a fat body. And vice versa. I know plenty of people who have been shamed for being too thin, with similar comments.
Every BODY is worthy
As it is now. At this moment. At every and any moment.
And if every body is worthy, that means YOUR body is worthy. Now. Without inches lost. Without being taller or blonder. Without going on keto or intermittent fasting or any other bullshit and dangerous diet. Your body is worthy with or without exercise. Your body is worthy. Period. No qualifications necessary.
Unfortunately, much of our culture seems to take issue with the idea of body positivity, which means that some people have designated themselves the body police and use whatever platform available to publicly shame strangers and celebrities alike.
The body positivity movement simply says every body has the right to live without shame, harassment and hate. Every body has the right to love themselves as they are.
I know I cannot control other people, only myself. I have made a commitment to not comment on other people’s bodies. That doesn’t mean I’ll never tell people they look nice or let my friend know she’s rocking her new dress. I mean, I will not comment on people’s weight, shape or size.
I beg of you – when you see a different body, refrain from commenting on that body. Thoughts or opinions about that body may bubble up – examine them. Where did those thoughts come from? Are they based in fact? Do they contain any cultural bias? Our job is to examine our own biases of people and not put the burden of our issues on them. It’s my thought that’s bothering me. Why do I need to make it someone else’s problem?
Despite our social media obsession, not every thought needs to be shared.
When negative thoughts arise about a body, either your own or another’s- remember this one thing:
ALL BODIES ARE WORTHY.
Even mine. Even yours. His. Hers. Theirs.