Proud2Bme | When is it OK to Call Out Authority?

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When is it OK to Call Out Authority?

By Kaitlin Irwin--A Tumblr post has gone viral with over 600,000 views (and counting). The post features a young woman calling out her gym teacher for apparently body-shaming people who are above a certain small size.

Note: Video mentions clothing size in a potentially triggering way.

This video is just a short clip posted to Tumblr and it appears to begin mid-way through the conversation between the student and her gym teacher. We first hear the young woman addressing the teacher and asking how he could so blatantly “demote body positivity.” The teacher (who is not seen on camera) can be heard telling the student that she “needs to leave.” The young woman doesn’t back down, though. In fact, she doesn’t even flinch. Instead, she holds her ground and calmly asks why the teacher is “body-shaming people for being a size X.”

At this point, the class has gone mostly silent. All eyes are on this outspoken student and her gym teacher. Again, he tells her that she needs to leave. She demands that he answer her question. “Have you ever thought about the fact that anybody in your class could be struggling with an eating disorder? And you want to tell me that I’m not ideal because I’m not a f---ing size X? How dare you?”

The video ends a few seconds later, but the point has been made crystal clear. This student has deliberately called out an authority figure at her school all in the name of eating disorders awareness. So, do we applaud her? It depends on who you ask, really. Considering the ‘reblogs’ and ‘likes’ the video has received on Tumblr, as well as the positive comments and praise it has garnered, it’s safe to say that this girl is being lauded as a body-positive hero.

As for myself, I too was in awe of this young woman. It takes a lot of courage and nerve to stand up to a male gym teacher, in front of your classmates, while someone is filming the whole interaction. And while I don’t 100% agree with the way the situation was handled, I must say that I was super excited and satisfied to watch this video.

My first reaction was “this girl is badass!” Sure, I wouldn’t drop the f-bomb or insult my teacher, but I do believe that he was in the wrong and was uneducated on the issue. I think it’s wonderful that this young woman stood up to speak out about EDs, body image and societal pressures to be thin.

I wish I had heard exactly what the gym teacher said about women and size. I also would like to get a follow-up on how this interaction played out in the moments and days afterward. Even so, without that information, I will say that I reblogged this video, I support this young woman, and I do think that it’s important to spread awareness about body image, unattainable body ideals and the prevalence of eating disorders in our society. That being said, there are plenty of ways to do this. If you prefer not to make a scene in class, try starting a petition, writing about it, talking to your peers about it, creating art about it or joining a body-positive organization; the possibilities are endless—and the power is in your hands.

About the blogger: Kaitlin Irwin is a recovered anorexic who spent her college years struggling to hide her illness. With lots of support, patience and an Intensive Outpatient Program, she embraced herself, flaws and all. In her free time, she enjoys exercise, cooking and art and can usually be found with a good book, a journal or her fiancé. She hopes to use her love of creative expression to spread positivity and love to others.

Also by Kaitlin:

The Problem with Glamour Magazine's Plus-Size Issue

6 Tips for Creating a Successful Petition on Campus

Mattel Should Take a Cue from Lammily’s Male Figures

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