Trainer Says She’s Never Met a Happy Fat Person, Twitter Explodes


Michelle Bridges claims to have never met someone who is obese and happy. (Photo: Network Ten)

In a TV interview on Monday night, personal trainer Michelle Bridges — who works with contestants on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser — was asked if she had an “agenda” when it comes to overweight men and women. What she said is causing a firestorm of negative feedback.

“If you are happy where you are, more power to you,” she told Australian Story. “But I can tell you, I’m yet to meet someone who is morbidly obese and happy.”

Related: Why Thin-Shaming Is Not OK Either

Very few are taking Bridges’s fat-shaming comments kindly. Specifically, Twitter couldn’t wait to tell the professional trainer just how wrong she was.

Former co-worker and Biggest Loser host Ajay Rochester also had some thoughts for the TV physical trainer. She Instagrammed a shot of her bare behind with the caption, “Michelle Bridges can kiss my fat happy ass.”

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Australian radio personality Chrissie Swan also weighed in. In fact, she said she has known the trainer a long time, and she should eat her words. “Hi, Michelle, if you are listening, remember me? I’ve known you for years,” Swan said on her show. “We have met many, many times. You can take it back now. I’m happy.”

Ultimately, we all have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days — but the fact that popular culture perpetuates the idea that overweight should mean unhappy is extremely detrimental, psychologically. “All we are saying is you should not judge someone’s entire character by what they look like,” Swan said on Nova 101.

According to counselor and psychologist Karla Ivanovich, PhD — an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield and an expert on obesity stigmatization — Bridges is perpetuating a weight stereotype that is unfair and untrue.

“To arbitrarily assign qualities based on someone’s weight is unhealthy for all involved, speaks to society’s views about thinness as a measure of beauty and perfection, and casts a lot of shame on a profession [trainers] that desires to help people too,” Ivankovich tells Yahoo Beauty. “She should not be perpetuating the cycle of abuse so pervasive in our society. There are a lot of unhappy thin people, yet we don’t assign their unhappiness to the fact that they don’t eat more.”

So, why are “fat” people always taking the brunt of negativity? “Proponents of fat-shaming propose that obese individuals would be best served if they could be given a ‘dose’ of shame,” Ivankovich says. “In doing so, they believe the person would be more likely to drop unhealthy weight as a means of gaining societal acceptance.”

In reality, Ivankovich says, shaming isn’t effective — or welcome. Australian DJ and KIIS 101.1 radio host Meshel Laurie agreed with Swan, Ivankovich, and the Twitterverse. During her Tuesday show, she said that Bridges was forming her views from a difficult perspective because she is “in the business of meeting people who have come to her because they are unhappy.”

Although Laurie knows she carries a few extra pounds by societal standards, she insisted that she is content with herself — and said she was preaching body acceptance to her son. “He said to me, ‘Mummy, you’re fat,’” she told listeners. “I said, ‘Yeah … and that’s OK. I’m really happy. I’m a really happy person.’ I meant it from the absolute pit of my soul.”

Ivankovich says fat-shaming comments have no purpose or place. “She generalized and stigmatized a group that is already marginalized,” she explains. “Had she made a statement like this about a race or people with disabilities, it would have been automatically unacceptable.”

Thankfully, Laurie (and many others) know what real happiness looks likes. “I’m such a lucky person,” she explained to her KIIS 101.1 listeners. “I’ve got two arms that work, two legs that work. A brain that’s sharp. It is actually possible to be fat and happy, I promise you.”

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