Wherein I take issue with the latest fat-shaming wave, and offer the names of health professionals who leverage the healing power of respect and empathy.
Dear Lady in the Pink Shirt,
On Saturday, a fitness personality named Charles “Strength Sensei” Poliquin posted this photo of you to his professional Facebook page:
The reactions from the fitness pros who follow Mr. Poliquin were mixed. While some let him have it for his lack of professionalism, a terrifying number of them laughed and high-fived him for “calling [you] out,” “telling it like it is,” and “not being a politically-correct pansy.” 1
Poliquin and his fans who jumped at the chance to mock you revealed very clearly that they’re in the wrong line of business. How wrong? I would compare them to a domestic abuse counselor who would greet a freshly-beaten client with, “Oh come on, you let him hit you again?!?! WTF is wrong with you?”
At best, these folks are ignorant dolts in the wrong line of work. 2
At worst, they’re assholes who take pleasure in insulting and humiliating the very people they were trained to help (unless they got into their respective fields only to work with people who didn’t actually need their help).
But, back to you, dear Lady in Pink. Thanks to Poliquin’s post, if you weren’t hesitant to work with a fitness professional before this weekend, I bet you are now.
Thanks to him, it would be easy for you to write off folks in the fitness industry as a bunch of bullies. Though that’s clearly true for some (and those two threads on Poliquin’s page read like a ‘Who’s Who’ for whom it’s true of), it’s not true for all.
I’m a personal trainer who was once over 300 pounds. I became a trainer, in part, because I believed that fitness pros were all a bunch of meat-head assholes.
I’m happy to report that I was wrong.
There are tons of fitness pros in the world who would do back flips for the privilege of working with you.
They’d be thrilled to sit down with you, to get to know you.
They’d be abso-fucking-lutely on fire to help you feel better, and to get healthier, inside and out. And not just you – they’d be on fire to help anyone do that. Because that’s exactly what most honest-to-god fitness pros got into fitness to do.
Not to judge you.
Not to mock you.
Not to assume anything about you.
But just to support you in whatever way you wanted to be supported.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting and spending time with many of these folks. Most of them have never been obese, and don’t have my story, but many of them have a highly-developed sense of empathy and get it that we all need attention and respect to be able to heal and improve our health.
It’s not my – or anyone else’s – place to tell you what you should or should not do, or what you should or should not want. That said, IF you ever feel like connecting with a new-to-you health-based professional, I want you to be able to find caring, respectful, terrific folks. Not just personal trainers, but dietitians, doctors, mid-level professionals, RDs, therapists, you name it. So I’m compiling a list of them at the bottom of this piece. Names and contact info will be added to the list all this week.
If you decide you want to connect with a new-to-you fitness pro (or any other kind of health-based professional), someone who’d show you the care, respect, and empathy you (and every one of us) deserve, my hope is that you’ll be able to use this resource directory to find someone close to you.
Please remember, dear Lady: For every mall-walking Neanderfuck with a camera that takes your picture without your consent, there are twenty people like us who know how it feels – and how discouraging and paralyzing it can be – to be on the receiving end of shame, humiliation, and abuse.
We all see you, too, and we’re in awe of your bravery.
We also see two little girls in that photo with you. Tell those beautiful girls of yours that the world will be better by the time they get to be our age. There are legions of us who won’t rest until the ignorant are educated and the bullies are bested.
Meanwhile, Lady in Pink, Poliquin took down your photo, and “apologized” the next day:
Though the lion’s share of comments on that thread read like the transcript of an authoritarian political rally, the final comment to make it on Poliquin’s #sorrynotsorry “apology” post was a fun, telling-it-like-it-is little jibe: 3
Three minutes later the entire 250-comment thread was gone. Deleted.
Like a stereotypical bully, it appears that Mr. Poliquin can dish it out, but he can’t take it.
All good things,
Are you a fitness pro who’d be excited to work with the Lady in Pink and other folks like us? THIS WEEK ONLY, Comment below with your Name, City, State, and Facebook OR Website URL, and, after I check you out, I’ll add your name to the resource list so the folks who want to work with respectful, supportive health pros can find you.
Click here to “Like” Strong Coffey on Facebook, then hover over “Liked” and click “See First” under “In Your News Feed”
Fitness and other health professionals I know & trust
(favorite this post and check back for updates):
- Yes, this was a Facebook thread, not a political rally. ↩
- And, just in case one of said-ignoramuses is reading this: No, publicly shaming fat people doesn’t inspire them to get healthier. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect. Piling shame on top of shame motivates no one. Judging from the quality of some of your comments to Poliquin’s posts, though, I imagine many of you think climate change is a work of fiction. You I cannot help. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866597/ ) ↩
- Yes, by me. ↩