Dear Gyms, the Fat Shaming Needs to End Now
Fat shaming has always been a major problem. From individuals to major social media companies, fat shaming comes from all sides. Gyms are no different; some have wrongly turned it into an advertising tactic in hopes of getting more customers through their doors.
Earlier this year, a British gym called Fit4Less came under fire for their fat shaming ad claiming that aliens would “take the fat ones first,” while also encouraging people to “save themselves” by joining their gym. Natalie Harvey, founder of the Nottinghamshire charity Combat Bullying, called the gym out on their fat shaming ad. Harvey also said that ads like this should not exist, as all it does is make young people more self-conscious about their bodies and weight. In fact, in that week she had dealt with multiple bullying cases that revolved around weight issues.
One man said that while he is usually comfortable with his size, the Fit4Less ad made him feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. But, the company defended the “light-hearted” ad, claiming that it has been successful in bringing in business. Yet, this success seems to be at the cost of the self-esteem and confidence of some people, which is completely unacceptable.
But, this is not the first time that Fit4Less has released a questionable ad. This month, they came under fire again for yet another offensive ad asking if people were “tired of being fat and ugly. “ These cruel, fat shaming ads have led the Mayor of London to ban body-shaming in advertisements, hoping to put an end to the trend.
The problem is not just in England, however. An Egyptian branch of the Gold’s Gym franchise released a fat shaming ad earlier this month, claiming the pear shape is “no shape for a woman.” The backlash was immediate, and the Gym quickly responded, claiming that they had not meant offense with the ad. In fact, it was just meant to refer to a healthy and fit body, rather than a woman’s body shape, like it seemed to imply. Like Fit4Less, however, this is not the first questionable ad released by a Gold’s Gym; in fact, Gold’s Gym has numerous ads that fat shame people in varying degrees.
The gym claims that what the Egypt-based location did does not reflect on their views, but what about the countless other ads that have been released by the franchise, which all contain fat shaming, no matter how subtle the jabs may seem?
Fat shaming is wrong. We have said it before and we will keep saying it until the message has truly stuck. Nobody has the right to fat shame anybody else. So gyms, stop coming up with excuses for your hurtful and cruel ads. No matter what you say, these ads are cruel, they are hurtful, and it is an act of bullying and body-shaming. If you really do not mean to offend anybody with your advertisements, then stop releasing ads that are fat shaming people in any shape or form.