Jessamyn Sullivan kneels on a green mat in a school gym while wearing a lilac purple top and gray athletic pants and looks directly into the camera.
This photo, and many others, are featured in Self Magazine titled, “The Future of Fitness.”
Why I’m a Fan of Self Magazine
Self Magazine has changed a lot over the last few years. Like its competitors, Self was another health and fitness magazine with articles on the best 1200 calorie meals and exercise tips for weight loss. The covers were models and athletes that readers envied.
In 2018, the now-digital publication had Tess Holiday, a plus-size model, on the cover.
By using a plus-size model on their cover (for the first time no less), Self showed it was taking a different direction with their magazine.
Over the years, bodies of all sizes and abilities have either graced the cover or highlighted inside. Contributors are also diverse, with self-identifying fat people writing about the very health topics the magazine has been known for with a positive twist. Instead of their journey to change their body, they are writing about health and wellness in their lives along with self-acceptance and body positivity (not in the way that grinds my gears).
An Instagram post of Sullivan sits on the feed. The caption next to the photo states:
… Fat people have to jump those hurdles and more just to get to the gym. And when they do, they’re often met with judgment, discrimination, and calorie lectures they didn’t ask for. The problem keeping fat people out of the gym is not their fatness.”
The concept of fatphobia is often a hot-button issue. Often, people are blamed for their bigger bodies because they are “lazy” and “eat too much junk food.” This is simply not true. Regardless, the comment section got nasty quickly.
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Luckily, Self Magazine nipped it in the bud and deleted said comments from its feed as to not trigger their readers in who can see the comments…right? I wish.
Letting Fatphobia Fly
Hey @SELFmagazine, I love what you’re doing about being inclusive for all bodies, so I propose y’all take the extra step in monitoring your comments. Stick up for those you’re rallying for all the way.
Said with love.
— Clarissa Nicole (@five12studio) January 13, 2022
Saying I was disappointed in the lack of response and action from Self. This is out of love, and not a way to attack. Look, I understand the first amendment. But remember: freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.
If you consider yourself an ally for fat people, please make the effort to shut down those who leave awful and hurtful comments. It would be really great if you, don’t accept fatphobic comments much like you wouldn’t accept homophobic, racists, ableist, sexist, and other bigoted comments.
“But that’s a lot of work!”
So is therapy, which is what a lot of us will need after repeatedly seeing the same offensive language that equates to someone un-aliving themselves.
A Brief Letter to Self Magazine
Dear Self Magazine (and other allies),
Please monitor your platform better. Please, shut down, outright, fatphobic comments that are damaging to readers and colleagues alike. There are young people reading your content, consuming everything from your captions to comments. When you decide to dedicate your platform to be inclusive of all bodies, you have to protect those you included. Please find ways to screen and block comments that can be harmful to readers who will read them and take them to heart.
PS. Please don’t exclude me from your contribution list. I would love to write for you one day.