Academy's Response To Body Shamers On Instagram Proves Fitness Is For Every Body

Ad failed to load

While I do consider myself a fitness guru, I can honestly say the industry itself is flawed — but not hopelessly. There's an unfortunate stigma surrounding plus-size people in the gym, particularly women, as if someone who simply wants to work out should look a certain way right off the bat. But the harsh judgments don’t stop at side-eyes by the weight rack. Internet trolls put in their two cents wherever and whenever they can, but athletic brand Academy responded to body shamers who posted hurtful comments on Instagram about a plus-size model donning the brand’s athletic wear. It's one way to prove that this industry not only realizes its imperfections, but is actively striving to make fitness as all-inclusive as it can possibly be.

Now, venturing into the gym as a beginner is daunting as it is, between navigating a playing field of mysterious machinery and figuring out what each contraption even does for your body. When someone is heavier set, that awkwardness of trying not to look so obviously new to the routine is multiplied, because this person might not only be condemned for taking too long on the pull-up bars, or for having the wrong form at the squatting rack, but in many situations, they're also being scrutinized for their size and the clothes they wear while working out.

Academy Sports and Outdoors hired plus-size blogger Anna O'Brien to model its new collection and break down some of these arbitrary standards in the fitness industry.

Ad failed to load

The brand — whose company motto, by the way, is to offer the best active brands “at everyday low prices for all” — recently launched its brand new BCG Plus line. The company signed on plus-size fashion and fitness blogger Anna O’Brien to model the line in a series of photos for Instagram, but unfortunately, a handful of commenters didn't pick up on the positive message O'Brien and Academy were putting out.

Each snapshot features a caption written by the social media influencer herself, who speaks to the importance of accepting plus-size women as equals inside the gym and representing these sizes on the shelves of athletic-wear stores, because everyone deserves the opportunity to get healthy and get active.

O’Brien wrote in one Instagram post,

Ad failed to load

Despite the fact that O’Brien looks amazing in Academy’s pieces, trolls will be trolls, and her photos were instantly bombarded with body-shamers claiming the brand is glamorizing the idea of being a plus-size person.

Ad failed to load

What these trolls are getting wrong, though, is that they assume being overweight automatically translates to being unhealthy, which isn’t always the case, and is an extremely unfair, blanketed generalization of people whose bodies simply don't fit into an arbitrary, tightly defined "standard."

Academy is breaking down that standard by speaking out against the cyber trolls attacking O'Brien and what the collaboration stands for. In response to a commenter named James who stated that people should be "ashamed" of being overweight, Academy took it upon itself to shut down the hate once and for all. The brand responded on Instagram,

Ad failed to load

Can I get a mic drop, please?

Positive comments were on Instagram all along, but were amplified once the brand defended O'Brien.

Ad failed to load

It’s amazing to see an athletic brand not only expand into plus-size apparel, but to also go out of its way to publicly defend the plus-size community and their right to feel good in workout clothes and comfortable in a gym setting.

The photo series received a ton of positive attention from the start, but once Academy stepped up to the plate to voice support for O’Brien, and inclusivity in the fitness industry in general, the praise continued to roll in. Some commenters personally thanked Academy for clapping back against the haters, while others shared their own stories of insecurities, expressing how important it is to put an end to body-shaming.

Instagram user @iamrhondakjones wrote,

Ad failed to load

Instagram user @mayrita_aguilera declared herself a new customer of the brand:

Ad failed to load

Commenters such as user @whimmsy expressed their support as an ally to the plus-size community. She wrote,

Support for the plus-size community is continuing to grow, and we're starting to see representation of beauty in all forms.

Ad failed to load

Self-love is a wide-reaching movement, and we all need to step up and make it a point to not only accept, but appreciate, every body for its natural beauty. The fitness and fashion industries are both known for their stereotypes — and, oftentimes, unattainable standards — yet brands have slowly but surely begun to see the light.

For example, American Eagle's sister lingerie and loungewear brand Aerie has been a champion of inclusivity. Between its un-retouched advertisements and campaigns for all shapes and sizes, #AerieReal is just that: a label that represents all women for exactly who they are.

Unfortunately, though, there is still a lot of work to be done. For instance, though diversity on the runway is improving, there's still a strong lack of plus-size models strutting their stuff on the catwalk. Until a plus-size woman can step into the gym without heads turning, and until she can post pictures of her body without receiving judgmental comments, we'll continue to fight the good fight for total inclusivity. Because every woman deserves not only to be represented, but to be accepted for the natural beauty that she is.

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

3 Important Red Flags To Watch Out For When You're Dating Someone Older Than You

My first serious relationship was with someone almost ten years my senior. We got together during my first semester of college (after meeting through mutual friends) and I'd be lying if I said our breakup didn't have anything to do with our significa…
By Sydnee Lyons

These "Millennial Cruises" Will Make Your Next Friend Group Vacation So Lit

If you're a millennial right now, consider yourself lucky. If you're a millennial with the travel bug, consider yourself luckier. I know, you might be thinking, "But... money!" Trust me, I get it. Plane tickets and hotels can get expensive as you cou…
By Amanda Fama

5 Trends From The '90s Are Making A Serious Comeback, So Somebody Page Cher Horowitz

I was born in the '90s and my childhood was one Caboodles train case packed with scrunchies and butterfly clips after another. If you could believe it, early '90s fashion is already considered vintage (I officially feel old AF) and according to sprin…
By Stephanie Montes

5 Social Things You Can Do To Feel Less Lonely If You’re Single

Being single and being lonely don’t have to go hand-in-hand. Just because you don’t have a significant other, doesn’t mean you aren’t surrounded by wonderful people who love and care about you. But once in a while (especially if you’ve been single fo…
By Veronica Lopez

6 Subtle Red Flags That Could Mean You’re Sleeping Way Too Much

Have you ever woken up after an unusually long night of sleep and felt, well, kind of awful? Whether you roll out of bed feeling super dehydrated, nursing a throbbing a headache, or you simply feel stiff as a board, there are reasons why your body mi…
By Annakeara Stinson

These 6 Workouts Can Be Done Right On Your Couch, & Yes, They Do Count As Exercise

Ever have that feeling when you're watching the Olympics like you should be working out, or at least stretching, but in reality you're just laying around eating chips? Yeah, me neither. But if you do ever feel that pull to work out when you're just l…
By Annakeara Stinson

10 Things You Should Say To Your Partner Every Day To Keep The Love Alive

When it coms to love, falling into it is a lot easier than maintaining it. There’s a reason, after all, that it's called "falling" in love, because it's mostly out of your control — the heart just takes over. Because those emotions come so easily and…
By Rachel Shatto

Science Says These 8 Foods Can Help You Live Longer, So Eat Up

If you're looking to live forever, or at least for an appropriately long amount of time, then the best way to get started on your journey toward immortality is to think about what you're putting into your body for fuel. Think of your diet as the batt…
By Caroline Burke

I Live In London & When Guys Find Out I'm American, They Only See Me As A Fling

I first entered the world of dating apps during a semester abroad in London, and I had zero idea what I was getting myself into. I was 21, had only ever dated boys I'd met through work, school, or mutual friends, and my appreciation for romantic come…
By Genevieve Wheeler

Here's Exactly How You'll Fall In Love, Based On Your Astrological Sign

One of my favorite things about learning about my zodiac sign and others' is learning patterns about my behavior that I can acknowledge and use to my advantage. As a Scorpio sun sign, I know I'm typically described as mysterious, drawn to loyal peopl…
By Elana Rubin

These 8 Red Flags Might Mean You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard In Your Workouts

If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," or you frequently exclaim that your HIIT circuits "hurt so good," you're probably the type of person who challenges yourself to the max during your workouts. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, i…
By Georgina Berbari

These "Awkward" Proposal Stories Show There's No One Perfect Way To Get Engaged

There are a few adjectives people use to describe proposal stories that tend to be a bit more common than the rest. You know what I mean. How many times have you heard someone describe their marriage proposal as "magical" or "romantic" or — my person…
By Candice Jalili

This $20 Toy Simulates Pimple Popping, So You Can Save Your Face (But Still Lose Your Dignity)

As a self-proclaimed popaholic, I am not ashamed to admit that I love watching pimple popping and blackhead extraction videos. Call me gross, but I find it immensely therapeutic and satisfying. To all of my fellow weirdos, we’ve been blessed with a n…
By Ariana Marsh

Meghan Markle Uses This $13 Natural Wonder To Grow Her Eyebrows Back & You Can Too

Meghan Markle is the world's new go-to celebrity for all things fashion and beauty — she's marrying a prince after all, so she must have some tricks up her sleeve. Meghan Markle's beauty routine is just as intricate as mine, because that's how real s…
By Alison Turka

7 Foolproof Things To Do Every Day If You're Tired Of Being Lazy AF

Being lazy can be oh-so-lovely. Until you start letting life pass you by, and not living to your full potential, then suddenly, it's not so good anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends when I can stay snuggled up in bed just a bit longer. Hit…
By Marisa Casciano

This Is How Long Most People Wait To Say "I Love You," Science Says

If I had to choose one word to describe saying "I love you" to your partner for the first time, I'd have to go with... hmm, exciting? Nope. Thrilling? Hardly. Terrifying? YES. Exactly. Saying "I love you" for the first time is terrifying. What makes …
By Candice Jalili

6 Reasons To Travel Abroad With Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend In Your 20s

Traveling can be many things: hectic, expensive, and definitely stressful. But with the right people or person beside you, all those troubles kind of just melt away. That's why there are some solid reasons to travel abroad with your boyfriend or girl…
By Alani Vargas