6 years ago I was co-managing a brand new barre fitness studio.
The Studio had just been featured in the business section of the local newspaper.
We were saddened to find that someone had cut that article out and mailed it back to us filled with horrible body shaming comments scribbled all over the page.
I wrote a blog post that evening for our clients, and had no idea the impact it would have on so many others...
You Called Me Fat...
The blog post I wrote 6 years ago:
Yesterday we received our first piece of hate mail. Now I realize you can't please everyone and I know barre isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but this was different. A woman cut our article out of the Frederick News Post and proceeded to write insults all over it saying we have no place in the business of health and fitness, then she mailed it to us. But it wasn’t about our business or our training, she was picking apart our bodies and the way we look. No joke. I think what is the most disappointing factor in all of this is that these words of hate and body shaming are coming from a woman who mentors children in our community. Children who look to her to set an example. Children who need someone to show them how to act and how to conduct themselves in a positive manner. In the past she has held several positions in local schools including at one point in her career the prestigiuos role of a higher level administrator in our own local FCPS school system, the same system that is supposed to protect our children with a zero tolerance policy on bullying. (p.s. remember when sending hate mail that Frederick is a small town!) I guess writing the words "you are fat", "you are overweight" and "borderline obese" on a picture of two women doesn't bother her. I wonder if she has a daughter or better yet, granddaughters? If she does, I hope they never have to feel the hurt caused by words like the ones she scribbled across our photo. She knows nothing about us, she has never met us in person nor has she taken a barre class at our studio. As a matter of a fact I'd love to kick her booty in a class, all 5'2''- 115lb - 20% body fat of her (she wrote her stats on the paper too...oh and she works out 6 days a week in case you were on the edge of your seat waiting for that nugget of information.) But more than that, I'd really love for her to talk to the women in our classes who come to our studio because they feel comfortable in a judgement free zone. Barre East is a place where we encourage them to "hold it for just 8 more counts" and we applaud them for finding their inner strength while making them feel like they are a part of something special. We truly love our clients, we celebrate their successes, both in studio and out, and we care about their experience every time they walk through our door. We don't have to look like "Gym Barbie" to do that. We are two women with a passion for barre fitness and we want to bring that passion to others. All of our instructors do. She writes "Pictures/Articles like this give others a license to be overweight or obese." Yet writing nasty things on that same picture/article shows nothing but unprovoked hate, who gave her that license? Judging anyone based on their looks or a picture is just sad...and yes it is a form of bullying. It sends the wrong message to women everywhere. Women should lift each other up, not tear each other down. So nice try lady...but mission not accomplished. Barre East welcomes all ages, all levels and ALL BODYTYPES. Always.
That said, we will be adding an inspiration wall to our Barre East Fitness Studio. A place where everyone can write a little pick me up, motivational quote or inspirational thought to each other at anytime. A place where you can get a little encouragement if you need it that particular day. A place where we can build each other up and celebrate our beauty, strength and courage both inside and out.
*update - The woman who wrote these things has reached out to us to apologize. And much like she didn't know us when passing judgement, we don't know her as a person or her situation either. We will never judge her for what she did or why she did it. We forgive her and we want her to know that she has actually helped us to encourage countless women find the courage to start a new fitness journey. We have opened an important conversation and we are thankful to have the opportunity to continue the conversation.
I want to thank my co manager Meg for being so strong and such an amazing friend to go through that ordeal with at the time!