A Moment to Rise Up: Body Shaming For Business

December 03, 2017 11 Comments

A Moment to Rise Up_ Body Shaming For Business

I am fat. This is not a secret. Aside from the pragmatic fact that I can’t hide this reality, it is something I have accepted about myself. I recognize the health risks, the lack of clothing options – I am painfully aware of weight limits on rides, of my hips on airplanes, how I choose to stand on subways. I am extra cognizant of sweat, of keeping my hair long, and avoiding sleeveless dresses like they’re the plague. I can tell you how many points, calories, carbs, sugars, and the fiber of nearly every common food.

Growing up as a fat child, I grew a very thick skin… pun intended. I was “baby beluga,” “fat ass,” “piggy,” and everything in between. I have been told “But you have such a pretty face,” “maybe if you lost weight,”  and what I shouldn’t be wearing more times than I can count. I have avoided reunions and social gatherings; I have exercised until I vomited. I have tried juicing, drinking shakes, gone carb-less, went Meditteranean, counted everything under the sun.

The very topic of weight is my Kryptonite, but I have embraced this reality.  That being said, it’s not something I want someone to offer to “fix” unsolicited.

It should be as equally socially unacceptable as if someone suggested, WITHOUT BEING ASKED, acne medication, hair growth treatment, anti-aging cream, deodorant, breast augmentation…. you get the picture. Nonetheless, people view my weight (and based on my conversations, not just me) as a gateway to promote their health business to me.

Exhibit A
The top message is a private message I received to my business Instagram, and the bottom message was my response:

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When I initially received this message, I was hurt, shocked, and quite indignant. While the hurt and shock dissipated, I remain indignant. As a professional and as a business owner, I was tempted to just reply “no thanks,” but I am tired of being considered broken. I am tired of being considered less worthy of respect than anyone else with an issue.

So many thoughts ran through my mind – Who is this person to think she has the right to believe she is better than I am? What level of arrogance does one need to impose her lifestyle on mine? Does she have any idea of who I am?

I am a friend, a daughter, a granddaughter, an aunt, a sister, a niece, a wife, a teacher, a soap-maker, a business owner, a colleague, a network leader, a community member, a dog-mom, a New Yorker, a home-owner, a tax-payer… I am so much more than my weight.

Yet, in one fell swoop, everything that embodies my identity came down to my body. My body that is not acceptable. My body that others believe I should change. Do I recognize all the repercussions of my weight? – Absolutely. Do I walk around and point out how others are flawed and recommend I should change them? – Absolutely not.

Body shaming in business, sadly, is nothing new. While not all marketing uses tactics that are so direct and personal, all body shaming approaches are equally grotesque. Every day we are blasted with before-and-after photos, with photoshopped images of celebrities, with idealized caricatures of people.

Even the champions of body image, like Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz, and Ashley Nell Tipton have all suddenly embarked on a weight-loss journey. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier, and even wanting to be thinner (I know I still want to be thinner), there is something dreadfully wrong with the concept that we, as fat women, are not enough – as who we are, where we are.  There is something dreadfully wrong with the idea that the solution for weight loss is as simple as eating less and moving more – even science has proven that the psychology runs far deeper.

There is something even worse with the movement for inclusion and “fatness” is still something to be ostracized, separated, and unaccepted. The idea that all “fat” people are lazy, sitting around eating fast food. I am fat and I work three full-time jobs and I haven’t had fast food in over ten years.  When it comes to business, I should want to buy into whatever you’re selling, not be shamed into buying it.

But “It’s about health and living a healthy lifestyle” – yes, true, but it should also be about living life in the current moment. It should be about loving who we are at this very moment and not just what we could be, and more so, what others think we should be.

kristen-fusaro-pizzopresident-2

 



11 Responses

Emily Caswell
Emily Caswell

December 07, 2017

I laughed out loud when I first read your reply. It’s an awesome, powerful response to gross, disrespectful marketing. I hope your words encouraged that coach to take a moment and reflect. “Health” should help people feel better, and shaming people into buying does just the opposite.

Roberta
Roberta

December 07, 2017

You have courage and beauty and strength. You also have love, family, friends and joy. You are on top!

angela
angela

December 05, 2017

I’m a former acne sufferer who had to listen to countless unsolicited “tips” on how to have clear skin. I love your answer to her and I’m glad you stood up for yourself. I wish I had.

Terry DeMeo
Terry DeMeo

December 05, 2017

I overcame a 14-year long battle with anorexia and bulimia only by the discovery that I was pregnant with My son. By battle began the day my father said to me, “You’d better stOp eating so much or you’ll look like your sister.” I never placed any importance on my own life. When I realized I was responsible for the health and safety of another human being, I worked overtime to do my very best. After giving birth, I battled with thoughts of starving myself, or throwing up to help lose the baby weight. That battle ended when I discovered I was carrying my daughter, eight months later. It was when I found out that I was carrying another young lady that might battle the same demons I was that I set a course of “No matter what.” No matter what my weight- I AM IMPORTANT! No matter what my ex-husband says – I AM IMPORTANT. And, now my friend, I want you to learn what I did… no matter what insensitive, self-righteous people may say or type – YOU ARE IMPORTANT, kind, smart, beautiful (inside and out), and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have met and gotten to know you! REMEMBER… it is not clothes size that gets you loved and adored by thousands. The size of your heart has already done that! ?

Gale
Gale

December 04, 2017

kristen your are a beautiful talented women people who spew insults and usually the most unhappy human beings shame on her hope she gets a big bag of shit for Christmas love u?❤

Donna DeRosa
Donna DeRosa

December 04, 2017

You don’t need to be fixed. None of us do. And our bodies are definitely our own business. I’m glad you stuck up for yourself. You’re amazing.

Marie Passantino
Marie Passantino

December 04, 2017

Kris as someone who has struggled with all the same issues you mentioned I understand ❤️ You are beautiful , intelligent, funny and an amazing woman- don’t let anyone ever take that away from you. There are too many small minded people in this world that feel they can say what ever they want – we on the other hand would never say anything hurtful. And believe me I can say things !!! Please don’t ever ever miss another event or party – again —I understand!! You make sure you hold your head high and walk into that room with confidence!! b you are worth it !!! Love you ?

Sandra
Sandra

December 04, 2017

Body shaming anyone in business or personal life is unacceptable. This person clearly does not her business well! I love your response and this blog post.

Sharon T McLaughlin
Sharon T McLaughlin

December 04, 2017

Awesome read, I will share this.

Dawn
Dawn

December 04, 2017

The part that is sad to me and I hope you never do that again, is you missing event because of your struggle. I understand that feeling. You are right to make people aware of their words. I never understand how it was socially acceptable for years to make fat jokes on television programs , especially ones that are viewed by young people. I am so impressed with you. You know this because I have told you more than once. The first thing I see when I look at you is a beautiful smile, gorgeous skin and a woman who I feel is beautiful and capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Kayla Fioravanti
Kayla Fioravanti

December 03, 2017

Bravo for your reply in Instagram and this courageous post.

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