Just a thought… Everything that can be interpreted can also be misinterpreted. [Unknown]
It’s not the way I wanted to start out a new show and a new year and yet, there I was, being accused of “fat shaming” yesterday on Facebook because of an article I posted on Ocean 98.5’s page. Great.
I found a piece over the holidays on prevention.com and while I wasn’t crazy about the headline they used, I thought the information in the story was worthwhile and something our audience (which is much the same as CHFI’s, only smaller) might also take away some tidbits from. The title is “6 Foods Thin Women Eat Every Day.”
For the record, in case you don’t have the time or inclination to read the article, they include almonds, whole milk and butter, green tea, chili peppers, pears and eggs. In two brief bits (my chat segments last between 45 seconds and one minute on our midday show) I summarized the six and why nutritionists believe they help speed up the metabolism, make you feel full or give you more fuel to run on. Because I summed them up fairly quickly, I promised to post the article on our Facebook page.
That’s when I got this response from Cheryl: “Way to start the year by fatshaming (sic) your audience.” (Followed by an angry emoji)
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My pulse elevated, I responded to her immediately: “Fat shaming? I thought it was interesting information (as I am always looking to lose a few and, most importantly, live healthier). I am truly sorry if that is how you took it, Cheryl. Erin.”
Here’s how she responded: “You may have been sharing it for the information, but even in your reply ‘always looking to lose a few’ in addition to the smiling woman in the photo and corresponding emphasis on Thin in the headline really says to me that if I am fat, I am not doing life right.”
Her comment was followed by a post from another Ocean 98.5 listener who said she found it helpful, as she’s already lost 30 pounds and she’s actively trying to lose, too. So that calmed me down a bit. Up until I read Sabrina’s comment, I was wondering if I should take down the article. Instead, I posted that I wished Prevention had worded their headline differently, but still found the information interesting and hoped other listeners would, too.
Then I took a breath and remembered my old mantra, the one that had to stand me in good stead while I was fielding emails or calls from people who either misheard or misinterpreted what I had said on the air. That happens: people are driving, hair dryers are whining or the shower is pelting and things – even tones of voice – can get lost in the noise. That mantra? I can’t be responsible for what you hear, only for what I say.
Before I discussed the Prevention tips on air, I said, “Maybe you’re like me and getting reacquainted with your Fitness Pal app again after letting things go over the holidays.” In no way did I say, “Hey sisters, it’s time for everybody to buckle down and lose some weight!” I wouldn’t say it to my OWN sisters, never mind listeners; I know what an emotional minefield talking about body issues is. I’ve steered clear of it for a good long time, mostly because of my own love/hate issues with food.
Overthinking it later, it occured to me that talking about foods that you can eat to achieve weight goals is no more incendiary than giving tips on safe driving. If someone infers that I’m calling them a bad or unsafe driver, then that’s their interpretation. Do I wish Prevention hadn’t used the word “thin” in their headline? Yes. But is it what made me click on the article when I saw it on Twitter to begin with? Also, yes.
I hate ticking off listeners. Maybe I’ll stick to talking about This Is Us. It returns to TV next Tuesday.