Two weeks ago I wrote a blogpost about something that happened to me in the gym and it went viral (well, viral in Belgium. So like, mini-viral). It was covered online by various media, I did interviews for 2 newspapers and I appeared on a talkshow to share my views on feminism and my little legging-gate.
tiny media explosion whoop whoop!
I had no idea this was happening until it was already being shared by media, and even though I’m ofcourse glad that it got picked up on a national scale there is also definitely a downside.
The thing is: I wrote a fairly personal blogpost, for my own blog. Yes, it’s the internet and no, I’m not an idiot: I know that what goes online on the blog, goes online for the whole world. That being said, I have quite a loyal group but relatively small group of readers, so I know that when I post something that maybe 400-800 people will read it, and that the majority of those people know the context of my blog and what I stand for. That’s one thing, and it’s a completely different thing to suddenly see what you wrote on a completely different platform, being read by a completely different audience that has no clue who you are or what you stand for, accompanied by a large picture of your behind in leggings.
All of this lead to thousands of mails, messages and comments, most of them good, some of them bad. You know how they say “never read the comments”? Well, I ignored that advice and went ahead to read ALL the comments anyway. That was unpleasant at times…but not hurtful to me. These people clearly don’t know me. And either way, I come from a place where I hated my body and myself for years, so there is nothing people can say about me that comes even close to the horrible things I used to say about myself. I’m in a much better place now. The negative things others say no longer reflect my own insecurities, which makes it so much easier to shrug it off. I mean, when someone online tells you you look “like a disgusting wrapped piece of pork”, what else is there to do but laugh?
Most of those negative comments
were really funny made very little sense anyway. Like this one, which starts of sort of kind of supportive-ish but goes down in flames towards the end.
translation: “well, all women in the gym wear leggings to the gym. Nothing weird or ugly about that. But if you are proud of the fact that you’re overweight then there is something wrong with you. […] Obesity is a disorder, it’s unhealthy. If you’re proud of that then there is something wrong with you. Work harder at the gym, […] that will teach those boys a lot more than flaunting around your fat body.”
But if I’m not bothered by the negative comments, then why am I writing about it now?
I try to be someone who doesn’t want to give attention to bullies or haters, but at the same time I find some things are important enough to be addressed (and this blog is a perfect way for me to do that). Because there are certain types of comments that aren’t funny at all. Some negative comments painfully reflect societal issues I care deeply about, and for me this blog is the perfect way to talk about that.
- The idea that wearing something means you’re “asking for it”.
underlined translation: “If you go to the gym looking to provoke” […] then you deserve what’s coming to you” “if you enjoy being admired at the gym then you should also know that the people there won’t agree with you” “some people just like any kind of attention”.
The idea that putting a certain type of clothing on my body means I’m “asking for it” is insane and dangerous. By wearing leggings to do the gym I’m somehow begging for attention or asking to be judged and hurt is very reminiscent of rape culture (for instance when girls in a short skirt are “asking” to be harassed. no. NO). And this is something fat girls specifically have to deal with often: we are told we can’t wear certain things because our bodies might offend others, and if you go ahead and do it anyway, you deserve it when people make fun of you.
Let me get one thing clear: my body and what I wear is none of your fucking business. I want the next generation of women to grow up in a society where we teach people to respect other bodies, NOT where we tell women to cover up out of fear of offending someone. Women should be able to wear what they want without living in fear of being attacked, be it physically or verbally. Your body, your choice.
2.The idea that working out means you must hate your body
underlined translation: “[…] curves, which she clearly wants to fix because she works out” (also: “if you provoke then you also need to take the backlash” which goes back to my first point…) “what i’m wondering: why does she go to the gym? Apparantly she’s not that happy with herself then??”
I got quite a lot of those actually whenever I discuss working out as a fuller woman. “well if she says she loves herself then why is she in the gym? Clearly she doesn’t love herself and she wants to be thin!”. Ehm, what? I work out because I LOVE my body, NOT because I hate it. I can’t stress this enough. Working out makes me feel happy. I enjoy the feeling of getting faster and stronger and learning new things and being challenged. It’s good for me, and my body deserves to be treated well. My body deserves the best. And the best, to me, includes regular exercise and doing things I love. It’s truly sad that to a lot of people, “loving yourself” still means “be thin”. It doesn’t. You have the right to exist and live your life in the body you have TODAY, whatever you may look like, and be genuinely happy with yourself.
this whole “I work out because I love my body” thing is really important to me. Go join the discussion on instagram!
As a final note (yes this is the last of it, I swear :p) I’d like to say one thing to all the people hating me: if for every 1000 hateful mails and comments, I receive 1 email from a young girl saying how my blogpost inspired her to love herself and treat herself right, then it would still be worth it. And I didn’t get just one of those lifechanging emails… I got 117. That’s right, out of all the hundreds of messages and emails I got, 117 of them were of girls and women taking the time to let me know that reading my story made them want to be more confident. To know that my wearing leggings to the gym and writing about it has made an impact on the lives and confidence of 117 amazing girls and women is so fucking amazing I’m literally getting tears in my eyes as I write this… and that’s something no amount of haters will ever take away from me.
Thank you all so much for the support, it means the world to me.