Body shaming is definitely a hot topic in mass media today and it comes from past programming that’s been embedded in our brain to make us think and act a certain way about body image. We judge other people and are quick to come to conclusions about what we think people need or want or are struggling with.
Unfortunately a lot of people who are talking about body shaming are actually doing just that with their message; shaming.
How so you ask?
Well the majority of times when you hear someone talk about body shaming, they are talking about someone who is overweight getting “shamed”. Or how it’s not right that someone who is “fit” should be “bragging” about it. Well, I think that statement in itself is the very definition of the concept of body shamming to begin with.
I mean honestly, how is it not? The text book definition of body shaming is the practice of making critical, potentially humiliating comments about a person’s body size or weight. It doesn’t say anything about only being critical to people who are overweight.
What about the people who are PROUD of the fit body that they built? Should they not be allow to talk about it because it may be construed as “bragging”?
What about people on the opposite end of the weight spectrum? Or that are struggling every single day to gain weight? Should they feel “ashamed” because they are skinny? Should they not talk about it because it may make someone else uncomfortable, even though it’s a major part of their life?
I’m a hard gainer and for the majority of my life I felt like I had to apologize for being skinny. Which is complete bullshit. I was born this way and just because it’s not what the majority of people deem to be a “health problem” or something to be concerned about than I’m supposed to be ashamed of it?
No- That’s not how it should work and quite frankly I’m sick of it. If I hear the response “Maybe you should eat a cheeseburger” from one more person when I tell them that my health struggle is gaining and maintaining weight, I might just lose my shit.
Trust me, you don’t want my problem. Being forced to eat a certain way in order to keep from being physically ill isn’t a fun issue to have on your plate. Just as having to eat less food to keep from gaining weight isn’t too much fun either I’d assume.
So why is it so much more acceptable to “shame” the skinny girl or guy than it is to “shame” the overweight person standing next to them?
It isn’t. The struggle is real on both sides of the spectrum. Both problems suck so why are we even comparing in the first place? It just so happens that the struggle of overweight people is socially acceptable to discuss and sympathize with. Well, I’d like to fill you in on a few things about what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the weight struggle. Here are some confessions of a hard gainer;
>Eating is not an enjoyable experience. It gets to a point where you don’t enjoy eating anymore. It becomes a chore. It’s something that you have to do way more than you want to. It’s something that you have to do even when you’re not hungry at all. It has literally ruined my love for food. And that is just sad. And as much as I would like to simply “eat a cheeseburger” like so many people are so quick to suggest, I’m trying to remain healthy while gaining so no, that is NOT the answer I’m looking for. It’s not that easy.
>You don’t talk about it. Because the moment you do, everyone looks at you like you’re insane. They roll their eyes and 9 out of 10 times will say “I wish I had THAT problem”. Do you know how discouraging that is to hear? It’s probably the equivalent of someone telling a person who’s overweight “Ya, you’re probably just big boned”. Seriously though people. Stop it.
(This is also why if we DO happen to find someone who has the same problem gaining, we get REALLY excited about it. )
>We binge. When you are forced to eat 6-8 times a day, more calories than a normal human should eat just to MAINTAIN your weight, your constantly being controlled. You don’t necessarily have the luxury of “Hmmm what sounds good to eat?” or choosing to only eat half of your meal because you get full. So every once in a while, we binge. But we binge in a very different way. We stop eating. We’ll go one or two days with only a couple small meals. And it’s like the equivalent to eating a gallon of ice cream to someone who’s on a strict, low calorie diet. It’s a gigantic, shameful release, but a release none the less. And real talk; it happens from time to time, but not without consequence. Which brings me to my next point…
>We lose rapidly. That little binge issue has a really terrible side effect because most hard gainers tend to lose weight rapidly. We can literally take 10 steps backward with just 2 days off our regimen. 2 days of wanting to eat like a normal person and we have lost all of the progress we had to work weeks to gain in the first place. And the other terrible side effect of that is getting physically weak and sometimes ill. Which both can set you back even further if not handled properly… it can be quite a slippery slope.
>Cardio is our enemy. We decline your invitation to go running or hiking because honestly, we can’t afford to burn the calories but we can’t tell you that because again, you’ll “wish you had that problem”. On our off days, we rest. Simple as that. When you’re busting your ass to turn every single calorie you eat into lean mass while NOT losing any weight in the process, extra cardio is just not something you’re looking to fit into the mix. It’s counterproductive for us and it sucks.
>It’s expensive. If you’ve ever been on a diet or eaten clean, whole foods than you know how expensive it can get. Now think about incorporating protein supplements into the mix and doubling the amount of food you’re purchasing. It gets costly to say the least. But when you can’t keep weight on, you don’t have a choice. The cost is part of it all, along with the massive amount of time you have to spend not only preparing your meals but actually stopping to eat. It’s time consuming as AF.
If you made it all the way through this article and are still thinking that being naturally skinny is a luxury than I’m not so sure I can help you realized the hypocritical aspects of that concept. This article is in no way, shape, or form written to make you feel sorry for me or anyone who has this same issue in their life. Keep in mind that this is my spin on things, this is written based on my own experiences and those of a few close people I know who have the same problems as I do.
This is simply shining the light on the side of fitness that most people DON’T talk about or really even see as an issue.
Just remember, we all have our struggles. We all have things that are more difficult for us than it is for someone else. So next time, before you go brushing off the fact that someone “doesn’t get it” or “has it easy” stop to think for a moment and remember that YOU DON’T KNOW THEIR STORY.