Thou Shalt Not Be Judged: Thoughts on Online Body Shaming

Thou Shalt Not Be Judged- Thoughts on Online Body Shaming

by guest blogger Rebecca Norris, Men’s Health sales assistant, blogger, writer, and fitness buff

This is my personal story about body shaming. I’m not quite sure where to begin but here goes…

Recently, on a Friday after a hard workout, I took an obligatory #FitPic for my progress folder.

In the moment, feeling damn proud of my improvement and the work I’d made with squats, I figured why not post the photo to my social media pages and let it speak for itself? (OK, with a few hashtags, too.) After all, my fitness idols—people like Michelle Lewin, Mariza Villarreal, and so many others—and even my friends, post body shots from all angles—so what’s the big deal?

Well, apparently it was a big deal.

Rebecca Norris Body Shaming

The “offending” FitPic.

After the photo went up, I started to receive a number of body-shaming comments and texts saying things like, “I don’t approve,” and, “What the hell are you thinking?”

Well, let me tell you.

In college, after meeting a boy and making excuses, I let my love of improving upon my body, health, mind, and spirit slip to the wayside. And it impacted me greatly—not only did my body slip into shambles, but, before I knew it, I was experiencing anxiety and depression like never before.

It was these impacts that made me realize I needed to reconnect with my fitness goals again. That’s when I joined a gym and met my trainer, a man who pushed me to regain the portion of myself that I’d lost. You see, that’s what the gym does for me: It clears my mind, makes me less reactionary, lets my anxiety take a backseat, gives me a goal to work toward—ultimately, it makes me happy.

On a daily basis my trainer pushed and encouraged me. Before I knew it, I was squatting 185 pounds, leg-pressing 500+, and could finally do a pull-up. I once read that if you want to live a happy life, you should tie it to goals, not a person or thing. And that’s exactly what I was doing.

Then I got injured.

I could not squat—nor do any lower body lifts in general. I got discouraged. One thing led to another, and I was out of the gym again. And just like two years prior, when I’d let it all slip to the wayside, I was again feeling all the adverse effects of caving to the excuses and disregarding my goal. I felt like a shell of myself.

It wasn’t until a recent move to New York that I started to force myself back into a fitness routine. And over the past months, I’ve been working my way back up to my PRs and even hitting a few new ones on the way.

So, yeah, on that Friday, I felt pretty damn good about the strides I’ve made with my body, mind, and spirit. And posted a picture to celebrate that.

And in return I received shame.

So, that being said, before you so easily gasp at photos like mine of people’s bodies online, before you judge me, and body-shame me, do you realize that it would mean you’re judging some of the very key elements that I’ve built my life upon? Do you realize that you’re shaming me for something that’s helped me grow?

The same goes for all body shaming. Do you realize you may be judging someone on the cornerstones of what makes that person who they are? What they’re proud of? What they’ve worked toward? Or that you may be reinforcing fears and insecurities? Do you realize that what you say may actually hurt?

Who knows, maybe some people just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that there are real people behind those photos, and instead of thinking of what body shaming can mean to someone, they fall back on being judgmental.

Or, even worse, is it because they find it too difficult to be happy for someone who is happy with him- or herself, so they find something to critique?

These days, I’m living healthily, happily, and unapologetically. I’ve never truly done that before, and I think it’s about damn time. #JudgeAllYouWant

RebeccaNorrisRebecca (Becca) Norris is a lover of magazines, fitness, to-do lists, social media, cupcakes, hot tea, and Moleskine notebooks. After graduating from George Mason University, she made her dreams of working in the magazine industry come to fruition by joining the Men’s Health sales team. Becca enjoys pushing herself in all that she does—her latest endeavors being Ashtanga Yoga and training for a half marathon. Follow along on her journey at her blog, Meant for Manhattan.

Adapted from a previously published post.


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5 Responses to Thou Shalt Not Be Judged: Thoughts on Online Body Shaming

  1. maria (farm country kitchen) June 16, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    Thank you Becca! You look awesome! More importantly, you are talking a stand for love and kindness and I love it.

  2. julie June 16, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Sadly, I think that everyone is conditioned to think their opinion matters. It is your body, or my body, or anyones body. We can not please everyone on the planet with our words, actions, or physical appearance. Someone who is insecure in their own body will snipe. The internet has just made it easier for insecure people to lash out at everyone who isn’t them. I think you should do what is good for you and your personal bliss, and ignore the comments. Even this one if you choose. Good luck.

  3. Rebecca Norris June 16, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    Thank you so much for your kind words and support!

  4. Beth Adair June 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Congrats on your strides & return to fitness:-). I’ve learned over the last 30 years, at work, school, fitness, modeling, dating, and in general, you can’t please everyone. Take any negativity with your PR’s or progress, and hit the door. Put bad comments in one ear, and right out the other:-)

    Surround yourself with positive & keep the focus healthy:-). I hope you achieve your goals, and if the Boston marathon is on the list, you qualify soon.

  5. Alice Green June 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Well, when I look at the two photos of you and then read the comments made, I just can’t see what they are disapproving of or why they are even being so critical! All I see in the photos is a lovely young woman who takes care of herself and is proud of her healthy body. The comments make me think of the cartoon character “Maxine”. I love her sassy comments like: “Everyone is entitled to MY opinion” – but her comments are meant to not only make us laugh, but to realize that’s the joke is really on her. In real life, those comments show us the kind of cruel, hurtful things people say without a thought of how much they may hurt others. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if it is negative and mean….please just keep it to yourself! Those kind of people are not your friends, Becca and you are head and shoulders above their thoughtlessness. Keep on being You!!

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