I know I'm late in the game in responding to Nicole Arbour's "Fat Shaming" video. It seems as though news and social media moves at warped speed. It's tricky to keep up sometimes.
However...better late than never, right?
I heard my husband watching the video the other day and I asked him what it was. He flashed his phone at me and I saw Nicole's face and immediately waved my hand with disinterest. I wasn't a fan based on previous videos I had seen floating around.
The days following I started seeing news stories and backlash regarding the video on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. Wondering what was up, I decided to sit down and watch it last night. I was mortified, offended, sad, outraged, pissed, and a whole list of other emotions.
I was also surprised that I hadn't seen anything on my main social media platform, Instagram. As a fitness account following other fitness accounts, I scrolled back for a long while fully expecting to see someone touching on Nicole's video. But no. I just saw people posting their booty selfies, mirror shots of their abs, and pictures of their protein pancakes. And I was one of them because that's what I do. I was also oblivious to what was going on. I feel strangely guilty for not being a part of the discussion sooner. I hope this encourages more of the fitness accounts on Instagram skip the selfie and shed light on this soon because it's important.
As a personal trainer and having a [small] presence in the Instagram world of fitness, I aim to do three things: motivate, inspire, and promote self-love. Yes, a huge part of my page is gym selfies and the photos I described above. I enjoy posting my content and I don't feel embarrassed or guilty for it. Besides the highlights, I pride myself on sharing the struggles and the "human" moments. I, too, have insecurities and I often choose pizza over a salad. I love sharing photos accompanied by short or lengthy captions that can hopefully brighten someone's day, or make someone feel less alone, or motivate them to workout.
I encourage women to be their best selves, no matter the shape or size. We aren't all meant to look exactly the same and there shouldn't be just ONE bikini body to strive for. The fitness industry is very visually driven. I get that and I am a part of it, but if I can incorporate self-love and encourage others to strive for their own version of healthy then that's rad. And that's what I plan to do.
I also plan on speaking up about what I feel is right. The "Fat Shaming" video was not right. It wasn't clever or comedic. It was insensitive trash with an ending disclaimer of "I'm just trying to help people." The way she described "fat" people with such a level of disgust was honestly scary to see. To see hate so easily spewed off her tongue for all the world to see is downright abusive, even if it was supposed to be "comedic."
I've never been what people would claim to be "fat." I've never been obese. I have been unhealthy and uncomfortable in my skin. I've suffered mentally, emotionally, and physically based on what others had said to me during that time. I starved myself and over-exercised to be a version of myself that I misconstrued as beautiful. I still struggle in feeling confident some days. I still opt for loose-fitting tees and dresses most days because that's what I feel comfortable and "safe" in.
What my past and what I've seen online and in the news have taught me is this...
The words that people say TO and ABOUT others can be extremely damaging. They can change lives. They can hurt, crush spirits, create tears, and do much worse.
To anyone who watched that video and felt crushed or hopeless or ugly or wrong or unworthy. Don't buy into that bull shit. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING. Don't let some bully comedian who knows NOTHING about you make you feel any less than you are. Also, remember that social media is mostly people's highlight reels. Everyone struggles. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I encourage YOU to think before you speak, type, or press send. It starts with us. If we are kind then maybe it will encourage others to be kind.
I applaud YouTube in taking down the video and shutting down Nicole Arbour's account. I am so glad to be a part of a site that knows what is right from wrong. Also, please watch Grace Helberg's video response.
I believe there are ways to bring a situation to light. I believe there are those who genuinely care and are hoping to promote a change in a sensitive way. There is a right and a wrong way, and I hope to remain in the right as I spread my message for health AND self-love.
Oh, and Nicole, my Instagram allowed me to quit my job and start my own business. Consider me an "internet bitch." - in response to your "Dear Instagram Model" video.