I’m in the gym on the spin bike doing pretty hardcore intervals. There’s a dude in the room who keeps waving at me and giving me thumbs ups. Whatever. He’s finished with his workout before me, he cleans his bike then walks over to me. I gird my loins (I’m honestly not even sure what that means, but I feel pretty sure it’s what I did.)
“I’m so proud of you!” he gushes. I roll my eyes, but he is undeterred. “We’ve all got to start somewhere right? You won’t be a before body forever, keep going like this and you’ll have that after body in no time!”
Insert record scratch noise.
The way he said it was so practiced that I immediately felt like this was not the first time a fat person had been subjected to this little diatribe. For that reason, I really felt like I needed to shut this all the way down in a way that would hopefully ensure that he never says it again.
“Don’t make guesses about people based on how they look. I’ve been an athlete all my life, played sports all through school, and as an adult I’ve done competitive ballroom dancing, marathons, and a triathlon. This IS my after body. ”
He kind of stammered “I’m sorry, I just…” and then I put up my hand and used one of my favorite phrases in situations like this:
“I’m going to stop you there. I’m sure that you meant well, but that matters less than the fact that you are operating on stereotypes and commenting about my body without any kind of invitation. Don’t do that.”
He apologized and walked away.
As I continued my workout (which he had interrupted with his unwelcome wild guesses about my abilities and goals) I started thinking about how often fat people are only seen as “before” pictures, and I realized just how much this is my “after” body.
After all the failed diets (which, had I bothered to read them at that time, every study about diets would have predicted.)
After trying to end the fatphobia I experienced by trying to become thin (even though I know better – since I would never have tried to end the homophobia I experienced by trying to become straight)
After giving so much of my time, energy, and money to the diet companies who make more and more money every year selling a “solution” that is such a failure that they are legally required to tell us that it doesn’t work every time they advertise it.
After learning not to care about the opinions of people whose opinions don’t matter.
After hating and blaming my body for refusing to conform to some manufactured stereotype of beauty.
After discovering Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.
After using them to heal my relationships with food, movement, and my body.
After shutting down some dudebro in the gym who thought he had any right to talk about my body.
This is my before body.
This is my after body.
This is my only body, and I will love it, care for it, give it my full-throated support, and wield it as a beautiful, unbreakable weapon against fatphobia.
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Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!