44 thoughts on “I want to clear up something:

  1. I agree that it’s not bullying. That’s fucked up. I do think that perpetrating the idea that the only reason that people are fat is because they’re lazy is sad & wrong. Did you ever see a pic of Jerry Lewis when he was temporarily taking steroid medications? All the captions were “wow, what a fat fuck, time to put down the Twinkies”.

    Of course, I **would** say that, considering that I tripled in size after losing my thyroid to cancer, lol. In the 12 yrs since I’ve lost about half of it — only one more decade of healthy living until I’m not a fat jealous loser any more!!!

  2. If she hadn’t used the words “What’s your excuse” it wouldn’t come off as bullying.

    Some people are fat for medical reasons. Is that an excuse? Some people are fat because psychological reasons. Is that an excuse?

    My mom’s handicapped – she had major back surgery for spinal stenosis and cysts inside her spinal cord. Parts of her vertebra had to be removed and her spine is no longer attached to her tailbone. She can only stand for about five minutes and can barely walk. Is that an excuse?

    By saying “What’s your excuse” this woman is dismissing people with thyroid problems, medicines that make them gain weight, PCOS, emotional scars, etc.

    So yeah, in that sense, it is bullying.

    • Only if you extrapolate way, way beyond the actual content and context of the actual picture, which is a woman who is proud of the work she put in to get fit despite having three small children, and who is trying to encourage other people to move past *perceived* obstacles to physical fitness, such as “mothers don’t have time to work out.”

      This does not have to translate to “No one has a legitimate reason not to have or want washboard abs.”

      • Actually, it does mean that. The whole point of the term “excuse” is there is no legitimacy to anything someone would say as to why they don’t exercise a hour every day. The term “excuse” instantly means illegitimacy. Different term minus the pejorative: reason. What’s your reason. Would have changed the meaning completely.

        • Excuse = perceived obstacle or rationalization
          Reason = an actual, like, reason

          This is NOT aimed at people with reasons — excuse is the correct term. The problem is that, because this is a touchy subject that people feel very judged about, many people are reading into it that the legitimate reasons not to be super fit (their own reasons, and the reasons of people they know) are all being labeled as excuses.

          It doesn’t say “There is no reason you can’t work out, only excuses.” People are projecting that.

    • Actually, the context of “what’s your excuse” is directed more towards the women who say that they are fat because they had kids. I hear that one all the time. “Once you have a kid, your body will never go back,” or “once you have a kid, there’s no time to exercise and diets won’t work.” The photo is directed at the women who really do make excuses when there isn’t a valid reason, not women who have actual conditions that keep them from losing the weight.

      • Actually, as in everything, everyone’s body is different. I managed to lose the baby weight both times I was pregnant, but my stomach does not look anything like hers because of stretch marks and saggy skin. The only thing to fix those is plastic surgery. Some women do not suffer from those things (like this woman apparently) but for others, we will forever have saggy skin hanging over whatever pants we are wearing.

        Also, I might point out that her *job* is fitness. Some women work long hours at desk jobs to feed their families. We can’t all exercise 3 hours a day and also spend time with our kids before they go to bed.

  3. Gosh, Facebook. Which means the only way you could encounter this is if you searched out the page yourself or a friend shared it (in which case you could hide it from your feed). That fat-shaming bitch, how dare she try to motivate a nation of overweight and obese people to excercise!

    And for the record, if you’re one if the maybe 1% of people who have a genuine medical condition that makes you obese, guess what? That’s your excuse, duh! “What’s you’re excuse?” is directed at the guy or gal citing “slow metabolism” and “genetics” while eating their third cupcake of the afternoon, not you.

      • Easy for Bronc to claim this isn’t bullying with his gigantic arms!

        Haha, seriously, I’m guessing she can expect a few more of those kids about every single year if she keeps looking like that. Props to her.

    • I dunno what my problem is. Diet and moderate exercise worked to keep me in a decent size for a long time, but now nothing seems to work. I’m only in my early 30’s, and I might cut a bitch if it meant I could eat even ONE cupcake ONCE a year without gaining 5 pounds, but, apparently, that was not meant to be. And the worst part of it is, I get the judgey-judgey over everything. My salad dressing is too fatty (oh, I’m so sorry that I’m over here eating V

      • Crap…(eating a BIG PILE OF LETTUCE WHILE YOU EAT REAL FOOD!), I’m ONLY working out 7 days a week (BUT APPARENTLY WRONG SINCE I’M NOT RUNNING A TOUGH MUDDER TWICE A YEAR), I’m drinking too much (which, apparently, means at ALL, since I only indulge in a beer – and I do mean A beer – once or twice a month). I’m so incredibly sick of it. My doctors can’t really find anything wrong, and I’m not asking any of these judgey mofos to look at me naked, so PLEASE JUST LET ME EAT MY VEGETABLES IN PEACE!

  4. Good for her for being active and taking care of her body (especially with 3 kids to take care of!)

    Having said that, people can live a happy, healthy life without looking “fit” or weighing a certain amount. We’ve come to view fitness and health as a certain body type, or absense of most body fat (or at least only body fat in the right places) but each individual is so unique and health comes in many different forms.

    Propaganda and mental illness play a huge part in obesity and I think that if you are looking to blame someone in this society, it’s not the individual you should be looking at but rather the poison underneath. One of my favorite quotes by Emerson, “The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out.” Our country (and world) is producing some fucked up people, I think this says more about the people in charge than the people who are suffering from lack of education and resources.

    Regarding the comments some of you have made, please people, try to be understanding, not everyone is fortunate enough to be brought up to know how to care for their health and not every person is able to gain to resources to be able to do so. Shaming and mean comments do not help, ever.

    What you’ve said though, that to me seems to be bullying. How can you type in your post “put the gun in your mouth and be done with it” and think that’s okay? I think it a bit fucked up that you would say that when in fact people who are that sensitive do have serious issues and need help! The world is a tough place but just because someone might be more sensitive or in a mentally fragile place doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to live or that you should encourage them to kill themselves.

    Also, pussification? What does this mean?

    • Pussification is whining like a gigantic baby because you don’t like someone’s inspirational photo on Facebook. Feeling personally attacked because an in-shape mother (who may be a bit full of herself, true) puts forth the revolutionary idea that having kids doesn’t mean your life is over. Maybe her message was a wee bit in-your-face, but it’s not even close to the kind of stuff a personal trainer would say to you.

      Great. Now people are going to claim their personal trainers bullied them. I opened up a whole new can of worms.

  5. PEOPLE. Oh my gosh. I’m totally chubby right now and I don’t find this mean or insensitive at ALL. Of course, I’m a firm believer in tough love anyway, so I like this kick in the ass. If you have a legit medical reason that you aren’t “thin”, this isn’t about you. It’s about people like me who buy Halloween candy with the intention of passing it out to trick-or-treaters, but ends up eating all of it because fuck it, it’s chocolate. My excuse is that I’m “too busy” or “too tired” when in reality, I browse the internet all day and then take a nap. Quit being so damn sensitive.

    • Your attitude about your weight and the fact that you aren’t finding reasons that it’s perfectly okay to be totally offended by this ad would indicate you probably aren’t as fat as you think you are. :p

  6. Might not be bullying, but posting this image does make her children fair game for mock, all three of them look like the suffered from oxygen depletion similar to fetal alcohol syndrome probably due to mom’s obsession about her “fitness”.

  7. The 2 year old looks like he’s totally not into this photo gig. I think they didn’t have the obscure Belgian imported cookies he liked in the green room and the milk wasn’t cold enough.

  8. Not sure what the point of her posting this with the caption “what’s your excuse?” There is an epidemic of eating disorders out there and things like this only fuel the unrealistic (for some) expectations and body image problems. Be proud of how you look, fine. Shaming others who don’t look like that, not fine.

  9. Regardless of her intentions, this image with this caption sends the message that 1) there is something wrong with people if they don’t look like this and 2) they could fix it if they just tried harder.

    Most people could never look like this at any age, let alone at 32, no matter how hard they worked. In fact, I’d be a little surprised if this woman really looks like this… It’s rare to find a shot like this that isn’t ‘shopped at least a little.

    Just posting this to her site isn’t really bullying, but I’ll wager it got reposted, reblogged, linked to, and otherwise used in ways that clearly were bullying. It’s not really surprising that some of the people who felt attacked by the image went back to the original source to complain.

  10. Posting the picture, not bullying. Posting the picture and asking an indirect question of everyone who sees you why they aren’t as good as you? That’s when it starts getting a little “i’m better than you”ish/”i need the validation and attention of total strangers”ish, the core values of bullying. It’s not a classy move.

      • You’re entitled to your opinion. And as far as “real” bullies falling through the cracks, probably not, bullying is being taken considerably more seriously now than ever before.

        • So you think it’s actual bullying for someone to simply post a picture of themselves on Facebook with an accompanying self-satisfied comment?
          How do you ever find the strength to leave the house, with all that bullying out there?

          • Probably the same way you find the strength to get through the day while you’re so upset that someone disagrees with you on the internet. Again, entitled to your opinion.

          • Agreed. It would be closer to bullying if she was going around posting the image on her fat friends’ pages.

            Bullying is personal. It’s someone in your face saying “what’s *your* (you, personally, right there in front of me) excuse?”

            It’s not a general ad aimed at nobody in particular.

  11. I don’t see it as bullying (I wish they would fix “run an fitness focused”), however… some of us don’t have the luxury of being able to run a fitness program. I have a 9-5 job and a quadriplegic adult son who I care for before and after I get home from work. I’d LOVE to find the time and the added energy to get into top physical shape- but the bills have to be paid and not everyone has the time or start up money to afford their own little club from home. Perhaps she should put, “Yo, stay at home moms/dads of healthy-abled children who have absolutely no health/mental conditions what-so-ever, who sit around complaining that they’re out of shape and won’t do anything to change it…” Better?

  12. She’s not a bully. But you have to wonder whether small children are in a position to give consent vis a vis being used in publicly available promotional materials.

    Also, it’s guna be awkward when they’re grown up and their teen friends are drooling over a pic of their mum. Jus sayin…

    :D

  13. Nobody should feel shamed by a photograph of a woman they don’t know and have never met. I doubt she put this together to make anyone feel bad; seems like more of a “look at how hot and fit I am” moment, with a peppering of “I’m probably better than you” that she most likely did not intend. Nobody’s worth lies in what they look like, especially since a lot of that is decided before we ever meet a soul.

    Any one of us could put together a similar picture with some area of our life where we’re really excelling: doing a lot of volunteering? Putting time into learning more about the world? Treating your loved ones with respect and kindness? Taking care of someone with an illness or physical limitation? Eating healthy? Driving carefully? Using proper grammar in your Facebook posts? Pick anything you’re doing well at, slap a graphic together and ask the world “What’s your excuse?” And then try not to come off as holier-than-thou. Why would anyone want to try to put herself above anyone else?

    I’m reading a book of the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, and this really struck me:

    “So what do you want? Does what happens inside show on the outside? There is such a great fire in one’s soul, and yet nobody ever comes to warm themselves there, and passersby see nothing but a little smoke coming from the top of the chimney and go on their way.

    “So then, what to do? Stoke up that fire inside, have salt in yourself, wait patiently, yet with how much impatience, wait for the hour, when someone might want to come and sit down by it — and to stay there, how should I know?”

    He goes on to talk about how we are prisoners in what we have the ability to do, and what we are unable or unwilling to do, how other people make judgments based on the little bit of us they see. And then he says:

    “Do you know what makes the prison disappear? It is every deep, genuine affection. To be friends, brothers, to love, that opens the prison by its sovereign power, its powerful charm. Someone who does not have that remains bereft of life. But where sympathy is reborn, life is reborn. Sometimes the prison is called prejudice, misunderstanding, fatal ignorance of this or that, distrust, false shame.”

    Kurt Vonnegut said it more succinctly: “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

    (If you’re interested, the Van Gogh book is “Van Gogh’s Letters,” and it’s wonderful.)

    • I’m pretty sure she posted this to motivate people. The question is whether it crossed a line from “motivate” into “shame.”

      re: Van Gogh, maybe don’t spend too much time contemplating life advice from people so bat-shit crazy that they cut a chunk off their head and send it as a love letter.

    • I still think there’s a crucial difference between something like “you can do this, ladies,” and “so why are YOU fat?” I have a friend who just battled depression, a bad marriage, and PCOS, and one of the things she did was bust her hump getting back into shape. She’s always posting inspirational shit about exercise and eating well, but I don’t find that offensive at all. She worked her ass off – literally! She’s not, like, “hey, fatasses, why don’t you put down the fritos and look like me?” For her, it’s a PERSONAL accomplishment of something she wanted, and she gets a “you go girl” for that. It’s also something so visible. We don’t hand out “bad driver” or “kicks puppies” scarlet letters. The only way to hide my fat would be a burqa, and even that still would reveal my size to be larger than acceptable to society.

      I’m also frequently posting about organic food and how terrible our agricultural practices are. I’m somewhat qualified to speak on this topic, since I actually worked in agricultural policy (in an official capacity – not as an advocate or non-profit wonk or think tank bloviator, but as an honest, on-the-ground, negotiate agricultural trade policy capacity) for a number of years and, to this day, one of my specializations is agricultural trade policy and the science behind why half the world won’t accept most US agricultural imports. I was actually charged with *defending* our practices in most cases, and writing those defenses made me believe we’re doing it all wrong. You know how much hate I get for that? I recently posted an article summarizing a summit where a whole bunch of scientists slammed our livestock practices, and every. single. comment. I got was “STOP TRYING TO STEAL MY DELICIOUS, ANTIBIOTIC-LADEN, HORMONED-UP BEEF, YOU DIRTY HIPPIE!” Last year I got in a very heated debate with someone because I posted about a certain, not-very-responsible, company’s marketing gimmick, and he accused me of being a liar and unqualified to speak on the topic, despite having direct education and experience to speak on it. And I’m often ridiculed for skipping certain menu items at restaurants, or declining to eat at certain restaurants at all, because they just don’t have anything I consider healthy, sustainable, and safe. I don’t lecture my fellow diners at the table, just quietly skip most of the meat at most places, and I still get heckled. By people who are well-educated and know I have the background to make a cogent decision and arguments on the topic. The knife cuts both ways, but one (fat shaming) is acceptable and the other (calling for policy solutions and personal choices that would make us all healthier) is asking for abuse. Oh, and of course, one of the people blasting me for the recent article lead with “it’s hard to take food advice seriously from someone with a weight problem.” Real nice, and lots of likes for that guy, too. It’s really insane that it’s okay to scream “PUT DOWN THE ICE CREAM TUB AND GET ON THE TREADMILL, FATTY!” but not say “hey, you know, our agricultural policies are probably killing us slowly and making the obesity epidemic worse. We should so something about that.” And before you slam, affordability is one of my topics. Yes, today, organic – or at least sustainable, unpoisoned – foods are out of the reach of many consumers. We can fix that, but we have to want to. Funny how “eating right” is considered such an easy choice, but the real food-related things harming our health are considered insurmountable hurdles…

  14. Meh. I will be fat if I want to be fat and fit if I want to be fit. A picture wouldn’t offend me nor motivate me. It’s a picture with some words on it and that’s all it will ever be. It’s the internet, are people new? It’s full of far more offensive crap and if you don’t like it don’t look at it. I don’t agree with horse porn so I don’t seek it out. If someone shared it on Facebook, I imagine I would hide it or delete the friend. If you are going to get your panties in a bunch, do it about something that matters.

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