One of the times I’ve had trolls come after me was when I posted a picture of myself all sweaty and gross after a boxing class. It wasn’t the hateful bigots that bothered me, though. It was some of the people trying to “defend” me.
While there were plenty of awesome people who would just tell the troll where they could stick it, there were also many who said it was OK I was fat because I was “trying.”
There are a few layers to peel back here.
- I’m only worthy of defense if I’m attempting to change myself. Someone made that comment (basically). They said I should be left alone because I’m “trying” to lose weight/”get healthy”/”improve myself”/some other horrific euphemism and I replied that I practice Health at Every Size. This actually led to them commenting that they would no longer defend me. So I am not a human being worthy of dignity unless I am engaging in some fruitless attempt to make my body more socially acceptable (something that isn’t possible long-term for almost everyone who tries)? Apparently.
- I must not be an expert at anything physical because I’m fat. I must be new at boxing, new at running, new at swimming, new at Aqua Zumba, and so on. Now, in some cases, that’s true. It was an intro boxing class. But I didn’t mention that anywhere. That was an assumption based solely on my appearance. Which was barely visible in my picture, but whatever. The assumption is that I’m trying any physical activity I partake in, not that it’s something I’ve done for years. They’d make the same assumption if I was poolside, and I was on swim teams from elementary through high school.
- That I must “undo” my exercise somehow, probably through food. Yeah. There have been comments that I must immediately drown myself in ice cream the second I finish a workout. If I did that, what difference would that make? Would that mean I deserve abuse? After a grueling expenditure of energy, my body needs fuel. That’s just how it works. So yeah, some days after I work out I want to eat everything that isn’t nailed down. And I listen to my body for cues about food. I’m not going to deprive it of nutrition when it needs it most.
The takeaway is that you can’t assume you know anything about a person’s lifestyle or habits from their appearance. They could be a size 2 couch potato, a fat marathoner, or anything in between. It doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse for harassment.