Commenting on other people’s bodies at the gym

Something that has always confused me is when people think they have the right to comment and judge other people’s bodies at the gym.

So much fat shaming and even skinny shaming. However it is not just at the gym but out on the streets and everywhere, and it drives me crazy.

This morning while i was at the gym, just listening to my music and working on my set and i get interrupted by a man who tells me i shouldn’t be strength training. I look at him perplexed, not sure what he is saying or why. He clarifies… I shouldn’t get wider/bigger/bulkier. Instead i should be doing slimming workouts, looking lean and not bulky. 

I was shocked, and in this state i just replied with… “i want to get stronger”… The man then backed off but before he did that he mentioned that it’s not attractive for girls to get bulky and also that doing one set with light weights is better.

I felt angry, irritated and extremely provoked. This is not the first time it has happened. This is not the first time that i have been at the gym, working hard to get stronger and then being approached by an elderly man who feels the need to comment about my shape and tell me i shouldn’t get too big. Why do i mention that it is an elderly man…? Well, because it always is. It has never been a younger teenager come up to me and tell me i am getting too big, neither has it been any girls or even elderly women…. though i have had elderly women comment about my tattoos. And once was even told by an elderly man that i was pretty but had ruined my body with my tattoos…  All of these comments, just out of no where…. They come forward to me and share THEIR opinion about MY body.

As if their opinion matters to me.

My body is not an object that needs to look good. My body is not an object that should please the eye of every man. My body is not an object to be stared at or glorified.

I don’t workout to look good. I don’t workout to please everyone or to get compliments. I workout because it makes me happy, i workout to be healthy, happy and strong.

Also i think i should note. I am not big or bulky, i am infact the opposite according to myself, and even if i was bigger their comment isnt necessary or wanted.If the man thinks that my body shape is “almost too big” then i don’t want to know what type of messed up body ideals he believes in.

I don’t understand why they feel the need to comment. I don’t go up to them and comment about their technique or their *lack of* weight being used. I don’t comment about their appearance, so why should they comment mine. Everyone is different and looks different and we are all just doing our thing.

I believe it is a power thing. They want to belittle me. Make me just an “object” which they think they can comment on. It is a macho thing in my opinion. But also it is a very old view that women are supposed to be weak, supposed to be slim or on the chubby side and just be house wifes… not out working, studying or getting strong. It is a 1800 century type of thinking. Have we not come far enough to realise that women are equal to men and women are JUST as capable of getting strong, building muscle and working hard.

Looking bulky and having extremely huge muscles, that won’t happen naturally for women. Women do not have high enough amounts of testosterone to get bulky or big.


It’s not the first time i have gotten comments about my appearance at the gym, and it doesn’t trigger me or make me sad. In fact it just makes me a little angry and irritated and makes me want to get stronger. In the past i am pretty sure i would have taken those comments very negatively and restricted or not increased weights as i thought i was “too big”. Imagine how detrimental that would be…. that a stranger would have enough power to make me restrict and hate myself? And THAT is why you don’t comment about people’s appearance, because 1) Your opinion does not matter. The only opinion that matters is the person who’s body it is. (Or, if it is a doctor telling you that your body is unhealthy due to actual facts and needs to be change.), 2) you don’t know what that comment could do to the person receiving it….. What if that person has spent years hating themselves and then you comment that they are too big, look strange, need to lose weight etc and suddenly their hard worked self esteem and self love reaches rock bottom.

If you ever get comments about your weight or your body, don’t let it get to you. Instead, feel sorry for the person who made the comment because there is something wrong with them that makes them think it is ok or necessary to go up to a stranger and about their body.

I can’t imagine what it is like to have a huge instagram fitness account where you constantly post pictures of your body. People think that just because someone has a high following on IG, that it is ok to make comments about their body and tell them that they don’t look good or should change their appearance. Those people are still humans with emotions and feelings and get hurt by mean comments, so always think twice about making a negative comment about someones appearance both in real life and online. You never know how that comment may affect the person receiving it.

My friends are the best, real girl power. When i mentioned what had happened they were shocked, irritated and angry as well. But also one of my friends had received a similar comment during the weekend from some elderly man at her gym, and it had hit her alot harder than it did to me and that sucks.

We should not be brought down or made to feel bad about our bodies or appearance by strangers, we already live in a society that is constantly sending messages of the ideal body and how we “should” look. Girls have enough pressure as it is to try to look a certain way and finally when they are happy with their body and happy with getting stronger, doing something they love and are good at… only to recieve negative comments and told they are ugly or too big. It is not ok!!

Also note, commenting about someones appearance and telling them that they are too skinny, need help, need to gain weight isn’t necessary either. If someone has an eating disorder and is underweight due to that, it is up to their family and friends to help them and get them professional help. Not a stranger in real life or online. So even if you think it would be helpful to comment and tell them that they need to gain weight, it isn’t and isn’t your business either, even if you just want to help.

Have you ever had someone comment about your body in a negative way? What are your thoughts about this?


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Fredrika says:

    Jag håller med! Att kommentera någons kropp/utseende på ett negativt sätt är alltid ohyfsat och jag blir irriterad bara av att läsa din beskrivning av vad som hände på gymmet.


  2. Lily says:

    Yes, when I was younger I used to be a bit chubby, and I was always told that I was fat, now, going through an ED I’m always asked why and how can I be so skinny, and that’s also really annoying, because I don’t like when people point it out to me, I know my problems quite well. I’m also very short and I can get very angry if people joke about my height, I mean I can do it, but who gave them the permission to do so… But not just negative comments, there are those catcalls which men consider to be compliments but in reality it makes me angry and also for those who are not really confident this can be extremely scary and frustrating… I just don’t see the point of commenting others bodies, either. Sorry for the long comment, but I’m also the type of person who stands up to such inequalities.


  3. Nat says:

    This post really hit home! Sorry this happened to you, what an idiot this guy is.

    However, the situation is much to familiar to me. I am a 26 year old female, and I constantly have men (I dont know at all) telling me their opinions about my appearance, my career, my shopping choices, even where I walk my dog!

    And you are right, it’s always some man telling me these things, typically in their fifties or sixties.

    I don’t know what it is with old men thinking that it is okay to go up to a young girl and say something totally inappropriate and uncalled for! I agree with you, it must be some macho sexist power trip. I never see them approaching young men or other old men and sharing these types of opinions! Much easier to go up to a sweet looking girl and say something rude and opinionated.

    I am usually caught off guard, and unsure what to say in the moment because I am so shocked. Afterwards I always wish I had given them a piece of my mind….

    Anyhow, thanks for this post, it is spot on (as usual). You are the best Izzy!


  4. Rachel Carter says:

    That is so creepy! It’s people like that who really make me mad. It’s such an outdated, sexist thing, and it just contributes to this unhealthy thinking about food or exercise or body image.
    Kind of unrelated, but just yesterday there was this old guy at the gym who kept making sexual comments about one of the gym instructors (who is married!) it it was so gross and uncomfortable. You’re so right, it’s always older men.
    I wish more people had some basic decency!


  5. It is totally uneccessary and uncalled for and well done you for not letting this silly mans comments get to you. People should be able to work out at the gym how THEY want to without risking derogratory comments like this. I`m glad he didn’t hurt you with his comments.
    I`ve had comments about my size when out and about and I`m afraid it does get to me rather, although I know it shouldn’t – I mean those people know nothing about me and the hard work I am doing trying to regain my weight but it does unnerve my self confidence. I wish people would keep their opinions to themselves.


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