Fitness brand’s response to trolling of its new plus-size face goes viral


“We’re all different, but our access to an active lifestyle shouldn’t be.”

Image: Instagram @academy

We live in a world where we’ve come a long way in learning to accept everyone’s differences, and there’s no denying that social media has played a role in the body positive movement.

But, it seems not everybody is onboard the positive vibes only train.

If it hasn’t popped up in your Instagram feed already, there was definitely no hiding for the trolls who body shamed the plus-size model who is featured in Academy Sports and Outdoors’ latest collection.

The American brand’s ‘BCG Plus’ line runs up to a size 3X, and therefore needed someone to model it. Enter: Anna O’Brien.

O’Brien, a New York-based blogger, has made her struggle with maintaining a fitness regime over the years heard, explaining the anxiety she felt towards workout out was often due to the lack of suitable fitness clothes available in her size.

“This single challenge is one of the greatest barriers to plus-size women becoming active,” she says on Academy’s Instagram page.

“I spent 25 years waiting to be active. Now I will spend 25 more helping people of all sized see the benefits of moving more.”

While O’Brien shared her story, there were obviously a load of trolls who were disgusted that a woman like her could model sports gear.

One troll commented: “Sorry but as a fitness person and about being healthy this is not preaching health and fitness when you are close to 400 lbs and severely overweight. The fact she is a plus-size model tells society she is contest with her health levels.”

Academy Sports and Outdoors refused to let this slide: “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.”

And O’Brien, being the inspirational model she is, also stepped in: “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.”

Another Instagrammer wouldn’t have any of it, posting: “This is disgusting you are making being fat a good thing. People should be ashamed of being fat, not proud.”

Academy fired back saying, “at Academy, we truly believe every woman should have the same opportunity to enjoy sports and the outdoors. 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.”

While there were many trolls who left a heap of negative comments, there were thousands more positive ones who applauded Academy and O’Brien.

One user responded to a negative comment saying: “Who are you to judge anyone??? People like you are the ones that make it hard for anyone with weight issues to work towards a healthy life out in public! Are you Miss Olympia or Miss America I think not! Why would plus-size people want to look at clothes modelled by a fit person?? They wouldn’t so keep your nasty opinions to yourself no one wants to hear them!”

Oh snap #shutdown

Plus-size model Natalie Hage has received online support after she shared her experience of being mocked for her weight by a fellow passenger on a flight. Credit: Facebook/Natalie Hage via Storyful



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