My latest essay for Everyday Feminism is a go to guide on how to discuss your fitness regimen without engaging in fatphobia:
I’ve had a very strained relationship with fitness.
I learned about exercise as I imagine most girls did: in relation to weight loss. Fitness and exercise were never explained to me as ways to reward my body. I never learned that exercise could be fun. Because I was fat as a child, I instead learned from the adults around me that exercise was primarily a punishment for eating — a punishment I deserved because I was fat.
To put it simply, the fitness world is full of fatphobia. It’s how the capitalist structure of the weight loss industry has managed to operate for so long. You don’t have to look all that hard to find fitness “experts” insisting that “now is the time to lose that belly fat for good.”
Because of this landscape, it’s sometimes difficult to discuss being active and working out without engaging in fatphobic rhetoric.
Fatphobia refers to the systemic oppression of fat individuals. Fat people are constantly told that our bodies are a social ill that must be eradicated. It’s very difficult for fat people, especially feminine-presenting fat folks, to get through a day without being reminded that our bodies are (supposedly) diseased and must be cured through weight loss.
Because we have all internalized fatphobia, this reflex to encourage fat people to lose weight isn’t entirely our faults. There’s been a long history in our culture of equating fatness to ill health. And these ideals take an active (pun intended) effort to unlearn.
That being said, there are certain ways that people who wish to discuss their fitness regimen can minimize the fatphobic rhetoric that’s been normalized within the fitness community.