One day, curvy model Jordyn Woods was minding her business, posting an Instagram of herself exercising, as models do. Then the comments started to pour in. As Woods explained it to Barbie Ferreira in a Teen Vogue video, “If you post that you’re working out they’re [commenters] going to say, ‘oh, don’t get too skinny’ or ‘why are you working out if you love your body?’” Barbie replied, “I posted a picture of me at the gym, similarly, and people were like, ‘no! I thought you were confident!’”
Woods and Ferreira aren’t the first curvy models to endure exercise and weight-loss shame. Model Rosie Mercado recently opened up about receiving hate mail for her 250-pound weight loss, and Ashley Graham was shamed and labeled a “phony” for hers.
The models receive constant conflicting comments, as some fans fat shame while others skinny shame them. “I think those [skinny shaming] commenters may be concerned about role models sending a mixed message — love yourself, but also yourself isn’t good enough unless you’re trying to change,” Erin Hillard, Project Coordinator for the Body Image and Eating Disorder Lab at the University of Notre Dame, tells Yahoo Beauty.
Hillard sees this reaction to weight loss and exercise as a direct reflection of the societal weight loss pressure. “Part of the issue that I think comes into play here is the conflation of physical activity with weight loss,” she says. “The media and diet industry send such a strong message that we should be working out in order to lose weight that people often forget women may be working out for any number of reasons — because they enjoy physical activity, or because they want to get stronger or de-stress, etc.” Woods agrees, insisting that she doesn’t exercise just for weight loss. “If you love your body, you’re going to work out,” she said.
Still, fans are affected by the resounding idea that exercise is primarily a means for weight loss. “When people who view these women as role models see them working out, they’re not necessarily coming to the conclusion that they may be doing it to engage in healthy behavior, but see it as an attempt to lose weight,” Hillard says. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, no matter your size. Hopefully curvy women like Jordyn Woods can empower people to exercise for their health, not just for weight loss.