Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Phoenix

Not the city. The mythical bird. I have arised from the ashes of this blog and my busy life to make a post about something I feel particularly strongly about.

Fat shaming.

Like many women, I have had a roller coaster relationship with my weight for. . . well, forever. But particularly the last four years or so. Gain some, lose some. Happy. Sad. You know what I'm talking about. I'd get into a really good trend of going to the gym only to lose interest in the elliptical or the bike or the treadmill or whatever piece of equipment I was using. . . even outdoor running. Snore. As I've gotten older (30 is rapidly approaching and I'm *NOT* excited about it!), I've noticed that my diet doesn't really matter. In the end, my body responds best with exercise. Even if I eat utter crap, I look and feel better (and lose more weight and keep it off more successfully) when I'm exercising.

After watching numerous infomercials about Zumba, I decided to give it a try. For those who aren't familiar, it's a dance fitness program based on Latin American and other international music: some types include merengue, cumbia, salsa, Bollywood, reggaeton, and others. I thought about going somewhere to pay for the class, but my luck improved when the law school gym started offering the class this fall. I've been a regular attendee on Wednesday afternoons and have loved my instructor Kerry, who is super enthusiastic and friendly. Plus, the class has been awesome. I should have known that my competitive and social nature would make group exercise classes what I should be doing. After all, having other people there keeps me in check and makes me accountable when I get tired and I'll be damned if I look like an idiot in front of other people. Plus, I used to take dance when I was younger, so this just reminds me of what I was so good at.

Today my instructor Kerry was on vacation so she had a substitute named Seth. I was running late to class because the person I'm tutoring for the LSAT was late (ugh, the bane of my existence right now, but the extra chunk of money I make weekly is nice) and when I got to the gym, I found out they were out of class passes for the first time I've gone this semester. Fuck. I go up to class anyway and it turns out that Seth is apparently a stickler for the class pass. Double fuck. And he turns me away from class because of the rules, even though part of my plea included the fact that I take the class every week. Fine, whatever, I'm a future lawyer so I guess I'm somewhat rule abiding. I go to leave and a guy who was in the class offered to give up his space because 1) he was the only guy in there anyway, and 2) he knows I take the class weekly and he didn't mind giving it up for me because he respects my hustle. This guy is on my Christmas list.

I put my stuff down and Seth turns off the mic and kind of says to me in a hushed tone, "Umm, have you ever taken this class before?" while looking me up and down like he didn't think I could handle it.

Fat shaming. Awesome. I stood there for a second trying to decide if I was going to cry or punch him in the face. Luckily I did neither and simply offered a frosty "Yes, I have." You know, damned if I do go to the gym (and have skinny, peppy fuckers judge me) and damned if I don't (and have skinny, peppy fuckers judge me).

I Bollywooded and cumbia'd and salsa'd my way through class with probably more gusto and enthusiasm than ever before, simply to prove a point. At the end when I was leaving, he asked me if I had a good time. I could have been passive-aggressive and just complained about him later, but I decided to let him know.

"The class was fine, but to be honest, I'd probably never take a class with you again. You fat shamed when I came into class and I didn't appreciate it." I've never once before called someone out on it, but it needed to be said. I am so sick and tired of people expecting less from me because of my weight. His first excuse was that he turned off the mic when he initially asked me, but as I told him, I'd already explained that I come to this class weekly and so I didn't appreciate him calling me out when, out of everyone in that full room, I was one of only about 5 people who regularly attends that class. In the end he apologized and told me that I did such a great job today (um duh, just because I'm overweight, it doesn't mean I'm lazy, stupid, or lack rhythm, drive, or intensity...just look at my Crimson Law shirt!) and I accepted his apology and left.

For a while I considered not coming back to the class again or just leaving class early because I felt completely degraded, but I decided not to let Seth take away the one thing in my week that I truly look forward to. So yes, this experience inspired me to come to the library and immediately write this blog post instead of editing the article for the journal I'm on or reading for my class tomorrow. I know that you, my friends, would never fat shame someone, but I hope that you would all be sensitive to it and call others out when they do so.

*drops the mic*

7 people testified:

weezermonkey said...

Fuck you, Seth.

amber said...

Duuuude. :/ I'm SO glad you called him out though. Maybe it will make him think twice before he pulls that ish again.

Speaking of Zumba, I take a class at my gym Thursday nights at 5:30. When you're home, let me know if you want to come. You'll love the instructor - he is a hoot! My brother pops in from time to time, too, so maybe I can convince him to join us. :)

jane said...

*cue standing ovation*

Feminist Gold Digger said...

Ditto Weemo!

One of the many reasons I loathe the gym.

Love this post, hope you are feeling a little bit better now that you wrote it, and please please please revisit this sentence again sometime in the very near future:

I Bollywooded and cumbia'd and salsa'd my way through class with probably more gusto and enthusiasm than ever before, simply to prove a point.

:)

10yearstogether said...

Good for you Trish! I hate the attitude of those skinny peppy fuckers at the gym. Instructors are supposed to support you and encourage you, no matter where you are on your fitness journey. I'd probably leave a comment with the gym's management too. Bastard.
Most importantly though, I love that you love this class and am so proud of you for finding something that is healthy for you that you also enjoy! xoxo

Winnie said...

What a jerk. I'm proud of you for calling him out on it.

Jen said...

Love this post.
Hate Seth.

Good work calling him out!