A fitness brand is defending its body-shamed model, and people are impressed

Fitness blogger Anna O’Brien (Photo: Instagram/Power to Prevail)
Fitness blogger Anna O’Brien (Photo: Instagram/Power to Prevail)

People are praising a fitness brand for defending its plus-size model. Academy Sports and Outdoors partnered with plus-size fashion and fitness blogger Anna O’Brien, who runs Glitter and Lazers, to launch its plus-size activewear line, BCG Plus. It placed ads on Instagram with photos of O’Brien modeling the clothes and super-positive captions that are often O’Brien’s own words.

“For many people when starting a fitness journey, a sporting goods store is the first place they think to buy workout gear,” O’Brien began the caption for a photo of her lifting weights. “Imagine what happens when a plus size woman does just that, and finds nothing in her size? An opportunity to find joy in movement is lost. I am so happy Academy recognized this need and is now providing affordable plus options in store and online at academy.com.”

The caption on a photo of her running read, “I spent 25 years waiting to be active. Now I will spend 25 more helping people of all sizes see the benefits of moving more. For plus size women, finding active wear that fits and is available in-store is nearly impossible. This single challenge is one of the greatest barriers to plus size women becoming active. With the launch of BCG Plus, Academy is offering a whole new group of women the opportunity to move more.” Clearly, people were happy to see that the brand was expanding into plus size; the post received more than 12,000 likes.

Unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, not everyone was so supportive. The ads were plagued by trolls who had nasty things to say. On a photo of her stretching, someone commented, “This is disgusting you are making being fat a good thing people should be ashamed of being fat not proud.”

But the brand clapped back in the most amazing way by responding to the comment on the photo and continuing to post pictures of the beautiful O’Brien. “Hi James, at Academy, we truly believe every woman should have the same opportunity to enjoy sports and the outdoors,” Academy wrote. “As a result, we will continue to represent a wide range of body types. We’re all different, but our access to an active lifestyle shouldn’t be.” It posted another series of photos of O’Brien after, clearly unmoved by the hater.

Sadly, that wasn’t the only nasty remark. “Lol. She needs more movement and less eating,” someone named Matt said. O’Brien didn’t stay silent either. “[H]i Matt. I’m the woman in this photograph. I wanted to let you know that comments like this don’t help people be more active. If anything they make people fear judgement and opinions when working out. If you genuinely want to encourage a plus size person to be more active, try cheering them on more and discussing your uncomfortableness with their body less. ✌” she wrote.

And she kept going with another eloquent response. “The goal of this post and others is to help plus size women find active gear so they can enjoy the benefits and happiness being active brings. If you want women to pursue more active lifestyles they will need gear to do so. It’s simple and nothing to do with your perception of my overall health.” Academy responded to Matt as well: “At Academy, we live by For All. For Less. We are all different, but our access to gear that will help with an active lifestyle shouldn’t. We’re proud to carry a wide variety of sizes for women.”

Yet that didn’t stop him. Matt continued to berate the brand and O’Brien, insisting that she couldn’t possibly be “happy with the limitations being that size has on her life,” so she followed up. “[H]i there! I’m actually a pretty happy person and smile often — ask anyone who knows me,” she countered. “None of that really matters, because this photo isn’t about assessing my happiness, it’s about showcasing gear now available for plus size women. If that frustrates you — a store providing clothing in new sizes so more people can live an active lifestyle — you might want to say that directly versus attacking my happiness.”

While he and other critics continued the hateful conversation, others voiced their support of the post and defended it. “So Inspiring! Way to go @glitterandlazers and @academy ! I will for sure be checking out these items because if they are Anna approved you know they are good!” one follower wrote. “You can be plus size and healthy. It’s time to break the mold of what healthy is. Skinny doesn’t mean healthy,” wrote another in defense of O’Brien.

“A plus size woman trying improve her health and fitness is something to celebrate! Encouraging plus size women to improve their health by giving them a chance to wear fitness clothes that FIT encourages just that! SO proud of @Academy for recognizing and responding to this need!” said a commenter. “@glitterandlazers you are killing it per usual, thank you for being and sharing. @academy thank you for showing larger bodies and creating solid gear for larger bodies to move in,” another commenter wrote.

Others were impressed that the brand stuck up for O’Brien and stood by its decision to feature her. “@academy You just got yourself another customer here. And from the vast majority of comments, it seems like you may get a lot more new customers as well. Thank you for having options for people like me,” one commenter gushed. “@academy preach! I will officially be asking for a gift card for Academy for Xmas. Never shopped with you, but sure as heck will now! @glitterandlazers you fierce ,” wrote another.

So much love for @glitterandlazers and @academy right now!!! #effyourbodystandards #bodypositive #goalgetter #fitspo #loveher

A post shared by I Dream•Do•Write•Model•Speak (@powertoprevail) on Nov 20, 2017 at 2:40pm PST

The body-positive blogger behind Power to Prevail shared a screenshot of Academy’s response with her 31,000 Instagram followers, praising the brand. “So much love for @glitterandlazers and @academy right now!!!
#effyourbodystandards #bodypositive#goalgetter #fitspo #loveher,” she captioned the post.

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