While we are tip-toeing around fat-shaming, being sure not to hurt anyone’s feelings while attempting to inform them of the risks that come with being overweight and obese, we have no problem shaming people who choose to take care of their bodies and eat well.
In the last month, the media has all but lost their mind between Lea-Ann Ellison (“Should Pregnant Women Lift Weights”) and Maria Kang (“Fitness Mom Maria Kang Defends Herself After The Internet Attacks”). There are mixed feelings about the pictures these women posted to their Facebook, and whether or not they are sending out the right message. Based on many of the negative comments, the general public seems to think they know these women’s medical history and personal lives, therefore, it is there place to comment on how these women live their lives.
Meanwhile, no one is going onto the Facebook page of people posting pictures of oversized desserts, pizza parties, and boxes of donuts, telling them that consuming those foods, especially in large quantities, leads to obesity. Obesity can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Sleep Apnea, Coronary Heart Disease, and a slew of other health issues. The cost of obesity related diseases is an estimated $75 billion annually.
According to the March of Dimes, being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause complications with getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and for the child. Complications during pregnancy include miscarriage or stillbirth, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. Though these complications can happen to pregnant women of normal weight, the risk increases for obese and overweight women. Complications for the baby include birth defects such as Neural Tube Defects, shoulder dystocia, death after birth, and obesity during childhood.
Conversely, working out while pregnant has many health benefits. Being fit before and during pregnancy increases energy because with strong and toned muscles, you are using less energy for everyday tasks than an out of shape person. Other benefits include reduced pregnancy discomfort, being better prepared for childbirth, and reduced stress. Furthermore, someone who remains fit during pregnancy is able to get their pre-pregnancy body back easier than someone who is not. This makes everyday Mommy tasks more manageable because you are in a body you are used to maneuvering, as opposed to carrying an extra 10 or more pounds.
Ellison and Kang chose to use science to their advantage and exercise before, during, and after their pregnancies. Once their pictures went viral the fit-shaming began. The negative comments take away from the hard work it takes to be fit, and the immense amount of discipline it takes to make healthy choices. The naysayers fail to grasp that vanity is not always a driving factor and hard work can overcome genetics.
Fit-shaming Kang comments
“ps… asian ppl stay thin much easier than many other races.” Elisheva Kamshad
“This is disgusting. Not every mother is a power worker, or has lots of help offered to even have time to think about exercise. My God.” Nicole
Fit-shaming Ellison comments:
“Beyond moronic” Ben Crawford
“Umm that looks unsafe” Su Nai
“This is idiotic. I guess your pregnancy is all about you. And not your baby. And you’re impressed with yourself while you’re doing it. Bravo.” Shannon Lado
Ironically, taking care of yourself is perceived as not taking care of your family. Are these women not taking care of their families best by making sure they are their healthiest self? No one is saying that you have to be fit after having three kids, or a size four. Nowhere on these women’s pictures is there a caption that says, “unless you look like this you should be ashamed of yourself.” These women are proud of their hard work, and want to motivate others to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The issue at hand is, with all of the knowledge about the health risks of being overweight or obese, and the benefits of eating right and exercising, what is your excuse not to take time to take care of yourself. More importantly, why are the people who are putting in the effort to be healthy for themselves, and set a positive example for those around them, being shamed?
“Fit-shaming” needs to stop, immediately http://t.co/62azmqBzwa
While I completely agree with most of this, the offense I take from Kang is not with the picture, but the caption. It’s implying that those who are exercising and taking care of themselves but still don’t look like her, are doing something wrong. They must have an excuse, otherwise they should look that amazing. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is one thing, but this tells me that it’s all about how the end result looks, not feels.
I think we will all have different interpretations to that picture. She had it in a fitness forum, and I think her message was that she has a lot of things that could hold her back, but she still makes time to take care of herself. Though her intent was noble (inspiration), I agree with her that we put our own baggage into the interpretation of that, and other captions. Nowhere on the photo, nor on her page, does it say “unless you look like this you have an excuse.” To me she’s basically saying, “I did it, you can too!” That picture was on a fitness forum that people choose to follow. If they do not agree, they can choose not to follow her forum. Just like when I see people taking shots on gorging themselves on pizza, I choose to keep scrolling. I do not comment about their lifestyle, because it is their life that they are welcome to lead as they please.