Have you ever felt embarrassed due to what someone else has said to or about you? Ever questioned if you should eat more - or less - or workout more - or less - because someone else said you were too skinny, too fat, too muscular, etc.?
Or let's flip it around, is it possible you've caused that same embarrassment in someone else? Perhaps you said something hurtful and perhaps it didn't even dawn on you. Maybe it wasn't meant to harm, maybe it was simply an observation or an opinion.
There's a phenomenon taking the country by storm. Many people are offended by it, some are causing it, and others still have no idea what's going on. The term "fat shaming" is increasingly being applied in our world, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
For reasons like feelings and opinions, this is an extremely delicate subject. I've battled with how to properly write this article: as a simple explanation, as a means to shame the shamers or as a call to stop being overly sensitive. In the end, I have no grand illusions of settling this inferno with a mere 400-500 words, but perhaps I can at least bring the subject to the forefront and get people talking.
I've seen people snicker and laugh as a slightly overweight, new member at our gym tries to find their way through the jungle of new machines and overwhelming exercises. I've even heard them share comments, within obvious earshot, about the need for the member to wear more clothing, "what in God's name does she think she's wearing?"
Interestingly though, I've also seen a group of overweight girls snickering at a skinny girl as she walked by, "that skinny ------ ain't sexy, she needs to put on more clothes!" I think this would classify as "skinny-shaming," don't you?
Could it be that instead of shaming, maybe we all just need a little more empathy? Is it possible that, for the majority of us, if we're not living in someone else's shoes we have no idea what they're really dealing with?
Could it also be that we are, as a society, becoming too sensitive? Too politically correct? Maybe we all need to toughen up? Or maybe we all need to be more empathetic?
By now it should be obvious that this isn't going away any time soon, but it should be equally clear that we can't continue to ignore it either. I would think that openly discussing any type of shaming is quite possibly the best way to handle it.
Understand just because you disagree with someone's current state of living or their current beliefs does not mean you have to dislike them. If you're bigger or smaller, stronger or weaker... none of that truly matters.
If you're living your life in the best interest of helping each other while focusing on your own health and self-growth, I think that's where true happiness lies. Maybe if more of us did that, we would stop partaking in the shaming altogether and forget what being ashamed feels like.
If you're interested to hear more about shaming of all types, visit FreshEvolutionFitness.com, click "blogs" and select "Shame, shame, shame" to read more from yours truly. I'd love to have you join the page and the growing community (it's free!) and share your thoughts.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com