Last week I overheard the personal trainer say: "Another rude boy about snap", as we crossed paths on the stairs at my local gym. "Yes, deffo," replied his female colleague he was with. Both spoke out loud deliberately and intentionally for me to hear. I have no doubt they were referring to me being the only one in the corridor at that time...
Without question I am angered by the incident, though it's not the first time subject to comments about my appearance. Throughout school I was ridiculed for my 'mullet like' hair and looking effeminate often being confused for a girl. During the years of my eating disorder I was told I looked 'ill' (and possibly rightly so). In recovery I ran everyday and got told I looked 'healthy' despite looking gaunt in the face.
Now after two years of going to the gym and paying attention to diet, nutrition and rest I get told I look 'buff.' People who haven't seen me in a while usually make positive comments to my defined but not overly muscular physique.
The personal trainer who insulted me at the gym clearly thinks differently and I'm intrigued to know why? I guess it's because his simple mindedness assumes one thing: muscularity means the bigger the better.
Fortunately, I have a healthy relationship with my body and comfortable in my own skin. Up until a couple of years ago I was most insecure and having worked through that I now feel better about myself than ever, thank-fully. For others the comment from the personal trainer could have gravely impacted on their confidence and general wellbeing.
Recently it's become apparent to me the 'skinny talk' is becoming commonplace as 'fat talk.' It seems any type of 'body shaming' is totally acceptable and rarely challenged. Is it about time we end this kind of talk altogether, for good?
Emma Woolf, writer and TV presenter, explains it perfectly in an article in the Guardian : "I have never been fat, but I know exactly what it is like to be judged for my size and hear unkind comments about my appearance. We need to shift the weight debate to health, rather than looks."
There's no point denying how person looks is often the basis of our first impressions we make and get hung up on. Whether it's a job interview, work meetings, social occasion, or even in the supermarket - we are constantly making judgements about people simply based on their appearance, particularly in relation to weight and size. We may think it but it's another matter when saying it out loud in public, even when it's not meant to offend.
Frequently I hear fat, chubby, lanky and other variant terms used to describe a person in daily life without any thought into the negative implication. Is it any wonder that body dissatisfaction, self esteem issues, exercise addiction, extreme diets and full blown eating disorders are becoming increasingly common in modern society?
Needless to say, if any of this is to change for the better we must be prepared challenge people and ourselves when using shameful body talk.
My response to the personal trainer: perhaps it's worth thinking before you speak, rather than let your ego do the talking...