When Michelle Elman, a body-confidence coach who regularly shares inspirational posts with her 121,000 Instagram followers, scrolled past a post on social media encourageing people not to laugh at fat gym-goers because "they are bettering themselves and that should be encouraged," she didn't find it as uplifting as others. Which is why on Thursday, Elman took to the app to explain with a thorough caption why fat shaming shouldn't be conditional. "Never laugh at a fat person. Full stop. Not in a gym, not anywhere," she started before going on to discuss how harmful it is for people to associate being skinny with being "better."
"When you oppose fat and 'better,' in a sentence like that you have already made the assumption that the person is unhealthy," she wrote. "Health is not an appearance."
She continued, "And here is what CAUSES a lot of problems for fat people in the gym. Some go there for fun, some go there for health but because everywhere is so weight loss focussed, it becomes this exclusive club where the people who have not achieved 'results' do not feel welcome."
With that, Elman pointed out the problem with the tendency to focus on weight loss as opposed to health when working out. "Fat or thin, working out for aesthetic results is one of the things that cause an unhealthy relationship with your body. It will result in overriding your body signals to stop and rest, it will mean you under-nourish yourself and it will mean that you devalue any movement you do that doesn't result in a skinny waist, big bum, or abs." She wrapped things up by reiterating the importance of not making the assumption that fat people go to the gym to lose weight.