The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fat Vs. Fit: The Shaming of the Ignorant.


For Those who don't know me or are just appearing on this site for the first time -> Now, I know that people will read the following post and think that I'm a heartless bastard that is Fat shaming or Fit Shaming (depending on your own personal perceptions). You could not be more wrong. I haven't always been "in shape," in fact I've been lots of different shapes.

Ol' Yeargain through the years: 2007 - 2014

So now you're left with the task of actually looking through my work, my story, or just judging my thoughts on this subject without any context. Your choice, I care not. the article...

Fit vs. Fat: The Shaming of the Ignorant.

Although there is a vast list of shaming titled issues plaguing our society, there are two brands of body image shaming that have brought themselves to the forefront of society - Fat Shaming and the subsequent Fit Shaming.

Now, which came first, fat shaming or fit shaming? I can't point to a single instance that would indicate my conclusion, but if I were to use context clues and marketing schemes as my guide (something I will talk about more in a second) I would say that fat shaming drew first blood, and like Rambo laying waste to that small town, the "Fit Shaming" campaign picked up their M-60 and started tearing through all that dared raise a question of their health.

What ensued was an asinine trading of butt hurt comments that was hardly educational, logical or scientific in nature, but rooted in anecdote and emotion.

Fit Shaming -

As a dude, I don't experience a lot of fit shaming from other men. In fact, as a man you're in a perpetual state of fat shaming regardless of how fit you may be, and a lot of young men even suffer from eating disorders because of our ideas of what we should look like. There is always someone leaner, bigger, stronger, more cut and striated with the symmetry of Arnold himself (or so they say on the internet.) It's part of the "alpha" nature of our sex that we need to assert dominance, if it's not by physical means, it's by intelligence, or skill or whatever. But again, this may just be a human trait.

God damn the internet is full of idiots...

I can only assume people get a chuckle out of making fun of my actions, behaviors and lifestyle, but I give ZERO fucks. However, I get a lot of questions, thoughts, comments and complaints from women in the fitness community that experience this quite a bit. I have numerous theories for this, but my main one is the social and media induced pressures we place on women in our society. That the health welfare of the family is the "responsibility" of the mother. And, since there are "multiple ways to skin a cat," peoples methods are often questioned.

My usual recommendation to my friends is to "shake them haters off" because it comes off as jealousy (IMO) if it's just unsolicited random discrimination of your fitness lifestyle choices, rather than blatant bullying.

However, due to actions of a few, the whole of the female fitness community was put on blast. 

This caused a social uproar and a media firestorm. After posting this photo on her Facebook group it was flagged for discrimination.

I will talk more about Kang in a second...

I have no problem with people being upset, an individual has the right the feel any way they like. But, the retaliation that came afterward was just as discriminatory (again, in my opinion.)

My biggest issue: The Real Women argument.

What the fuck?

I'm all for being proud of your body and your sexual identity, but since when did that have to come with the obligation of putting down others?

First off, the above is hardly fair. The top are candid shots taken by paparazzi and the bottom are photo shoot style images, tapered to be the most sexually pleasing possible. Don't compare if you're not giving them the same variables.

Secondly, Last time I checked, it was sexual organs that dictated gender (although, even then what about transgender? Almost dug yourself into a hole, Ol' Yeargain. let's just say sceintifically classifies you as such) not your body shape that dictated whether or not you were a woman or not. And this "Men like curvy women"...yes, we do, we also like thin women or fat women, tall women, short women, some of us like men, some of us like men AND women. Some of us like animals... (Awkward.) I've personally dated women (not animals) of all heights, shapes, sizes, colors, and the honest truth is that I would not have dated them if I didn't find them attractive. No shit, right?

This isn't even fit shaming, this is just shaming. Taking the title "Real" from an entire gender alienates so many people that it's upsetting. It's along the same lines that only "Real Men" lift weights and eat meat and fart and watch football. Fuck that. Chemically and mentally I am a man, that's all it takes. I don't need to watch football, and I don't lift weights to be classified as a man. I lift weights for health, fun, and self empowerment. Try to take my gender from me and you'll pull back a fuckin stub.

Another issue that arises is when people post accomplishments online they are accused of fat shaming. But is it? Is my shirtless photo or bikini pic a mocking of your physical state or a celebration of my accomplishments and new found confidence? Is a picture of me eating this right here mocking your food choices?

Oh.. okay, yes, that one was...but what about this one?

May 2013...for context.

See, I'm just a bro with a belly enjoying himself one tasty burger...but with a little spin on it...

"Why, you no good son of a..."

It's all about perspective and presentation. Some things should not be taken as shaming in any regard.

This is a shirtless selfie

Just a little awkward, and just a little gay, but no shame in that.


This, is shaming you.

"Being a healthy everyday individual shatters the self-images of overweight people...demonstrating possibilities in one’s personal health should not be defined as promoting bullying, fat shaming or gloating."

1.) Gloating shouldn't even be on that list, because everybody gloats about one thing or another. Especially on Facebook. If it's not your "swim suit body" it's that baddass tray of cookies you made, or your puppies, or your kids, grand kids, nephew, life accomplishment, etc. It's okay to be proud in any and all the things you love in life.

2.) If this was merely demonstrating, it would not have the accusatory statement, "What's your excuse?" above it.

3.) Being "healthy" or a thin individual does not shatter the self-images of overweight people. It might cause envy, anger, or apathy, but most people are going to make assumptions about you and your weight no matter what.

I actually looked up Maria Kang's website, and although she isn't exactly super educated in the nuance of exercise and nutrition science, she's at least presenting some information from the perspective of a mother that is somewhat helpful. My issue with this Maria Kang thing is that it's the wrong way to go about inspiring people. She wanted to motivate, and she decided to make it into a form of martyrdom and presented it as an accusatory statement. Rather than a "It's possible!", She made "I did it, why can't you?" Two completely different tones.

Fat shaming - 

My issue with people who are blatantly fat shaming is they are usually the same fucks that believe in "eating clean" or hardcore restriction of food groups like carbs, fats, sugars, claiming they will never eat (blank) ever again because it will make them fat, that we were only designed to eat things that cave men ate inbetween bouts of fights with t-rexes (I'm being facetious, I know that the tyrannosaurus lived during the upper Cretaceous period where man wasn't around until the paleolithic era. Doooooiiiii) Martin Berkhan infamously called some of these people the Low Carb Talibans which wonderfully articulated flaws with this doctrine but also alienated a great deal of his readers. (Calling someone's dietary practices terrorist in nature will do that.)

They stem from a place of "your eating and physical behaviors are bad and mine are good." That's fat shaming...or diet shaming? The thing is, I would never do half the shit these aerobic psychopaths would do to get there bodies, I desire it not. I won't eat nothing but broccoli, chicken breast and brown rice, I won't do 2 hours of cardio a day, I hate classes or videos that have the words "ab" and "blast" put together, and the hell if I'm gonna spend what little of my hard earned money I have on diet pills, shitty supplements, anabolic drugs or cosmetic surgery. If I was presented with this kind of ultimatum, WHICH is how it is often presented, I would much rather be overweight. (Notice how I didn't say unhealthy.)

I'm not afraid to say that I do my fair share of plate shaming, but not in the way you would think. I know that fried foods, or things with fat, salt, and sugar taste really damn good and that to avoid these types of food isn't only psychologically trying, it's also completely unnecessary. (Check out my post about Eating clean) I try to call out the fools that think that only certain things will keep them skinny, or avoiding certain foods will keep them from getting fat. (Fools! Nothing can save you!) I try to blast away lies perpetuated by the fitness industry, media, or the dumbass bros (young and old) spitting out outdated bro-science doctrine in hopes of helping you find happiness and balance in this dietary jungle full of confusion.

Fat shaming as advertisement.

People who post these fat shaming photos are usually the same bastards that are trying to sell you something. Supplement, diet, training program. Not saying that these things are necessarily bad, they all have their place, but I'm just saying that shaming is also a marketing tool.

The thing is that it works and people let it work because that's how some people find motivation...they want to be kept accountable. If advertising like this didn't work, they wouldn't do it...yet, here we are.

The sad part is, if the industry wasn't doing it, people would do it to themselves. There are thousands of dudes who post pictures of professional body builders all over their bedroom walls, look at them for hours and ingrain that image disorder into their brain so that won't be happy unless they have those results. I've had so many people that said "I wish you lived nearby, you'd keep me accountable.

...I'm not into the shaming/accountability game.

Fat Shaming does not work in helping people lose weight. In fact, it causes people to fall back into behaviors that are potentially damaging towards their weight loss goals: Binge eating, increased body issues, refusal to follow a diet. Convincing people of stereotypes and shaming individuals is only effective in acquiring someone's money in hopes that you will be able to give them a "quick fix," but it won't actually help them towards their goals. Inspiration and education have proven time and again to be much more effective tools.


Fat Shaming: When I was fat I would often times be teased about what I ate, how much of it I ate, how much I could eat, my dietary choices on all aspects of the board...My thoughts on it now: The ignorance of basic social commentary and conversation and my personal insecurities that would manifest because of it. Meaning: Someone would comment - "Jesus, you eat a lot" in passing. I'd meekly respond "hehe, yeah." - Inside feelings hurt because they think me fat. I've also gotten "daaannng" or "oink oink, piggy piggy" from people with body compositions that are laughable to my standards now. Now I can still eat like a beast and look pretty damn decent, but at the time I didn't know I could have similar eating patterns in terms of volume and have the physique I desired.

Fit Shaming: My mother get's fit shamed all the time. She used to be 60lbs heavier, but now she is a beast-mode, weight lifting, svelte grandmomma. Because she would be called out for bringing salads to work, or saying no thank you to things, people would tease her. She get's "you're getting too skinny" a lot from people who have known her for a while, and a lot of assumptions that she is losing her weight by unhealthy means. Little do they know that she's been building up strength, endurance and one hell of a metabolism thanks to her boy.

The Perception of Health:

Just because you have a 6 pack doesn't make you healthy, but neither does having a gut. Being healthy is having the absence of disease, infection, or disorder. Under that classification, none of us are healthy, because we're all head cases in some regard.

Both camps on this issue point their condescending fingers at each other and claim the other is unhealthy because of x, y, and z. Ignoring the very unhealthy psychological activity they themselves are indulging in.

It's just as easy to put your self into the grave with a barbell and marathon running than it is with a cheeseburger, drugs and copious amounts of tasty tasty booze. Yet we have all of these studies that say all of these activities can actually be beneficial to your health if done in Moderation. (Weight Training, Booze, Drugs)

What a fuckin concept? Living in the extremes of the spectrum will bury you, but living life in the grey area will make you sexy, healthy, well rounded and a fuckin fun person to be around.

What to take away:

We all feel like martyrs, we're all walking around in bubbles of self conscious bull shit, that's the way of the world. It fucking sucks, but it's something that we all live in, how you react and adapt is your choice. Unfortunately, rather than seeking our own individual answers, what many of us do is find those who are like minded and form camps and teams to combat our insecurities with riot like ferver if necessary. It manifests itself in lots of ways and many issues, not just weight loss (politics, team Edward (twilight?), Pepsi vs. Coke, these are really lame examples.)

This idea that we'll only be capable of happiness, love and accepting both if we have an image in the mirror we approve of is bull shit fed to you by individuals looking to make money from you. But, liking the image you see in the mirror can certainly help find that balance I'm always yammering about. Whether it's by adapting your diet and training to fit your own standards, or accepting the being you inhabit daily is your choice, both will help you get to where you're goin.

Until next time,
Lift Big, Sing Big, And look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro


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