Dear Narrow Minded Yoga Dude and Other Fat-shamers at the Gym, You Suck

Me Doing Yoga circa 2002

Me Doing Yoga circa 2002

Recently, I took a private yoga class with my family – mom, uncle, husband, father – we were all there. I haven’t taken a whole lot of private yoga instruction in my life but I have been practicing yoga on and off for a number of year, so private instruction sounded like a good time. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Basically, this yoga dude showed up to our hotel room, stripped down to his skivvies and proceeded to tell us that most people practice yoga for all the wrong reasons – which in all honestly is probably true – but his presentation of these ideas was off putting and a little pretentious – mostly because he presented himself as a yoga genius and treated us like idiots. Because of his belief in a universally flawed perception of yoga – this dude would not lead us through a series of asanas. Instead, we had to start from scratch and re-learn the poses we already knew with him as our guide. Fine.

My Bulging Tricep

My Bulging Tricep

After a few rounds of sun salutations, which honestly felt the same as all the other times I’ve preformed sun salutations, we moved on to warrior pose and the yoga dude explained that the first sign of aging is the flabby wings that we get under our arms (<— not true), and that obviously, we all fear this flab (<— not true x 2). His “solution” for this flab was flexing one’s palms towards the floor so as to tighten the triceps – he explained that he practiced by pressing against the shower soap dish for years and now his arms aren’t flabby. In response to this explanation he asked us all to flex our arms and he went around touching our triceps, proving that “horrible flab” was easily eliminated.

Eliminating the flab under my arms, which by the way is unnecessary, cannot be accomplished by flexing my triceps. In family – I am the fattest; I am also the most fit. I work out all the time – I train 3 times a week for an hour and I do cardio on the other days. I am super strong and while they are covered in fat I have huge bulging triceps, which regularly sling stuff around. When the jerk-faced yoga dude got to my tricep – he pinched the fat under my arm and said “I don’t think there is a tricep in here.” Fat-shaming douch-bag.

News flash: Fat people work out too. Just becasue I’m fat doesn’t mean I lack muscle tone or that I don’t go to the gym to work on my health. (Check out these awesome images of fit fatties!) My health is mine to define. Fat can be fit or maybe it isn’t but either way another person’s arm flab or level of fitness clearly none of yo’ business. Furthermore, shaming me in from of my family or shaming others wherever isn’t doing any good. It’s clynically proven that fat-shaming does not encourage this fat person to become less fat.

Fat Gym Rat

Fat Gym Rat

Clearly, this yoga dude – is just one jerk but this is not the first person to give me a hard time about being fat and wanting to exercise my body. Regularly at my gym strangers come up to me to express their joy that I’m working out. “Good For you,” they say – which really means “Good Job Fattie – proud to see you trying to overcome your fat.” Another comment I hear frequently, is “You really work hard” expressed with a startled awe. Whether they know it or not these beasties are expressing their hard held beliefs that if your fat you must be a lazy, un-fit slob who sits around and stuff your face all day. This is fat-hate and their comments are fat-shaming because they believe that a fat person is only valuable when trying to get thin. To be clear – I’m not trying to get thin. I’m trying to stay fit. I go to the gym because it makes me feel good. I go because I know that pursuing fitness will help me live the life I want to live. Despite this choice that I make for myself – no one should tell you how to care for your fat body. It’s yours to do with as you please.

Top Five Feminist Bits I Would/Should Have Mentioned… if I had the time.

Lately, I feel like every time I’ve sat down to write up a little something for the loyal followers of feminist cupcake – my attention is immediately diverted to something more pressing – like my students or my dissertation or the multitude of doctors that help me deal with my Hashimoto’s disease (Bastard! – and also a plague. If you haven’t had your thyroid antibodies checked and you’re feeling a little wonky, I suggest you bully your MD into ordering you some tests. And if you find you have heightened antibody levels see a functional doc – a lot more help there for hasi than an endocrine doctor. Just sayin’ ).

Finally, Summer is here and this cupcake is back! (I have high expectations – expect posts from me every week).

So without futher ado here are the top five feminist moments I would/should have shared with you recently if I had the time:

1. Boycott Abercrombie and Fitch. I don’t know how many, if any of you shop there, but if yoprotest-400x267u do refrain. A&F’s CEO has recently spouted some really ugly comments about fat women. boo-hiss. Check out Virgie Tovar’s interview on CBS NEWS.

2. Some super TED videos out there recently – have you seen Jackson Katz… or Courtney Martin…?

real-life-anime-girl-with-barbie-girl

3. Did you run into the images of the real life Barbie and the anime girl? For me, this is a little creepy. Plastic Surgery is one of those issues which feminists from different waves debate ad nauseam. I think these two women ask us to consider this issue just a little deeper or differently. If nothing else, I think you find this unsettling.

4. Licia Ronzulli – the Italian MEP who brings her daughter to work – inspires me. The Guardian wrote a piece recently about her – and if nothing else the mere images of this woman doing her job and being a mother at the same time allow us to recognize that perhaps it is our conceptions of what is acceptable in the workplace that limits all people’s social positions. Licia Ronzulli

5. The New Dove, “Real Beauty Sketch” videos were highly problematic so much so that I hate to share them – but if you didn’t see it here it is:

The best discussion I saw on the issues with this video was written by Golda Poretsky – “Why Dove’s Latest Real Beauty Video Gets It All Wrong.” – Basically, as Golda points out – this video is racist, sizeist – reliant on the same old beauty ideas and most importantly tells women that they should base their self esteem on how others perceive them. Read Golda’s article – in fact, hang out with Golda for as long as you can. Her work is awesome.