Finding the motivation to go the gym can be a challenge at the best of times. Sometimes simply getting out of bed and going to work is all the showing-up we can manage in one day, and that's perfectly fine. So the last thing anyone needs when they make time for a workout is to be shamed for the way they look.
Sadly, that's exactly what one woman experienced when she enrolled at the gym. But instead of letting the negativity get to her, she penned an empowering open letter to her bullies, giving us all a lesson in body-positivity, tolerance and self-love in the process.
In a thread on Internet forum Reddit titled "The overweight girl at the gym", the woman wrote about her personal experiences of being body-shamed in the gym by her fellow members.
"I'm the fat girl," she begins, before outlining the cruel bullying she experienced while working out.
"This is my first week at the gym and every night after work, the same three girls are there. Today I found out they have been snap chatting pictures of me and making fun of me, but I don't mind."
She continued: "I'm glad that you haven't gone through what I've been through. I used to be in shape, I broke my hip and had to give up all exercise. Then my grandma got sick and I took care of her full time, I couldn't leave her alone because I had no help, so I gained more weight."
"Then she died, and I ate my feelings and gained more weight. Now I'm a size 22. I don't hate myself, or my body. I love who I am, and that took me my entire life to be able to honestly say those words. I love myself."
"It really sucks that society, and your parents raised you that it was okay to try to hurt someone that's trying to better themselves instead of trying to lift them up but I'm not mad. Thank you for reminding me to keep pushing after I had a really long day."
Showing exactly why the internet can be a force for good, Reddit users turned up to give the OP a massive show of support, with thousands of readers offering words of encouragement, and others sharing similar experiences of being bullied at the gym.
One part-time gym worker posted about her gym's zero-tolerance policy towards harassment: "At our gym, we feel it's our responsibility to make sure our members feel safe and comfortable when walking through those doors. We have a zero-tolerance attitude when it comes towards [sic] people like that. Please don't let that bring you down, or discourage you ... Congratulations on your lifestyle change, keep up the good work!"
Another reader gave an empowering shoutout to the "non-models" at the gym working out in the face of little body diversity, and creating a more inclusive space in the process.
"I'm the girl whose skin is hanging off her all over the place. Like... Deflated beach balls hanging. At my last gym there was a gorgeous woman whose shoulders and upper arms would make a dude jealous;gorgeous to my eyes but obviously not in it for the svelte femininity aspect. Another woman had somehow misplaced one of her legs (her replacement was pretty cool looking though). Another worked out in a hijab.
"We're out there. The sisterhood of the non-models at the gym. We're with you. And we're all getting healthier, recovering. Not falling, not sliding back - climbing up."
Here's to all the women showing up, being visible, and doing life on their own terms.
[Via GLAMOUR UK]