Recently Twitter user and former award-winning news journalist turned corporate communicator, Lauren Cohen-Mendoza tweeted the following: “No fat lady, your workout doesn't mean you can have that extremely large @KauaiSA - why does this size even exist?
It’s a tweet that rightfully received backlash for its gross fat-shaming, and it’s one that, as seen in the responses to the tweet, highlight a fear that many big girls feel (myself included) when going out in public.
The fear that they can’t gym in public without being judged for their efforts.
Not only that, but the disingenuousness of that tweet dismisses many factors that could and should be taken into consideration here – the first one being that she knows absolutely nothing about the woman in question’s routine.
She doesn’t know the woman’s history (she could have medical reasons for all we know – there are many medications that require you to eat well in order to be able to take them), she doesn’t know how many calories she burned and she makes the assumption that the woman is completely unhealthy based on one large meal.
Beware, judgement zone! Let’s just try to be kind and validate each other as women, this is next level mean-girl!— Amanda Reekie (@moozir) February 13, 2019
This tweet also plays into the damaging assumption that fat people in general, are unhealthy.
It also assumes that the gym-goer in question wants to lose weight when for all we know, she could simply be exercising to keep fit, and not necessarily lose weight.
Yes, we’ve read the reports that fat people are generally considered at risk for heart disease, but according to Faaizah Laher, spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, who provided commentary for Drum magazine, there is no perfect weight, but rather tailor-made health according to an individual.
She suggests that if the person just so happens to be overweight but they exercise regularly and eat healthily, the key would perhaps be looking at abdominal fat instead of actual weight (that is if the person was inclined to want to lose weight).
To get back to the shameful and shame-y tweet, the huge problem with the attitude that’s conveyed in that tweet is that it makes it harder for public spaces like gyms and health restaurants to be safe places for fat women.
Health spots don’t solely belong to the fit and toned, but they are places that fat women and men should be able to visit without being gawked at and shamed for, ironically enough, wanting to be at a place that helps them to work their way towards living a healthier lifestyle.
You shame them for being fat, but then you shame them for being at the gym too? You can’t do both.
And personal trainer, Louise Green agrees.
In an article featured on The Guardian, she says that in a society where fitness culture means that you're only represented if you fit the "thin" mould, walking into a gym, for a fat person is pretty much like walking into a snake pit.
And she’s right. Because it takes a lot to work up the effort to walk into gym – a space that’s always been viewed as a place to enhance what’s perfect, and not what needs a little work.
And fat people are so aware of that. Their insecurities about whether or not they'd be welcome at the gym would go a long way in being drowned out if support and acceptance were offered instead of criticism and judgement.
As a fat person, I would never tell someone that they’d need to eat a little something to put meat on their bones because it’s none of my business and people have different metabolism rates.
My first instinct was to be mean to you and swear at you. So I’ll say this:— ShortyPam (@ShortyPam) February 13, 2019
1. You have NO idea what that person is going through
2. You have NO idea what their battles are
3. Next time, keep your small minded fat shaming opinions to yourself.
4. @kauaiSA - keep doing you.
Unfortunately, what made this even worse is that despite many people pointing out why this was problematic, Lauren continued to double down; first by claiming the tweet was meant for Kauai (quickly refuted by a user who said she wouldn’t have mentioned the fat woman in the first place), and then by claiming that a dietician told her that she should only have small veggie smoothies.
And that’s totally fine for her, but it’s not a model she should use on other people whose lives are completely different to hers.
No one should be made to feel ashamed of going to the gym, nor should they be ashamed of their meal portions after gym. Most importantly, no person who sees that tweet deserves to feel like they can no longer go to the gym for fear of having this kind of commentary lauded over their heads.
Lauren has neither deleted her tweet nor apologised for it.
At time of publishing, attempts to get comment from Lauren had been unsuccessful.