athletes · body image · fitness · stereotypes

Fat Inspiration or Larger Body Representation? What do you think?

This video came across my newsfeed the other day and really caught my attention. Why? I guess I had conflicting reactions.


Who is it? Maria Odugba also known as asap.yogi on Instagram. You can also follow her on Facebook here. And her yoga website is here.

I love seeing larger bodies do all this hardcore stuff. That made me smile.
So on the one hand, you go girl. She’s doing amazing athletic things. On the other, so many of the people who commented (I know, I know) had things to say about weight loss.

She’s smashing fitness stereotypes though I do worry sometimes about why larger bodies are supposed to be extra inspirational.

I also don’t like the anger she directs toward herself for missing workouts and getting behind.

Part of me is thrilled to see fitness videos with a better representation of bodies.

Part of me wants to say, of course people with large bodies can do this! So many people commented  “if she can do this, what’s my excuse?” And people talk lots about the obstacles she overcoming. It reminds me of the way in which wheelchair athletes are supposed to be extra-inspirational.

But not everyone shares my worries.

On our Facebook page Jennie had some good rejoinders in favour of the extra-inspirational claim. I asked permission to share them here.

Says Jennie, ” I do think it’s extra inspirational for a few reasons.

1. Representation is crucial, seeing people like her working out inspired me and let me know that fitness is for us bigger ladies too.

2. It is more difficult, if I’m running 5 miles my muscles are having to carry an extra 4/5 stone in weight compared with someone my height with a bmi in the promoted weight range. So when I see someone doing awesome stuff and doing with extra weight I’m impressed and inspired.

3. It is more difficult because she’s had to overcome any number of social/emotional barriers to do what she does. Again that’s more inspirational to me than watching someone who fits the expected profile.

4. In addition, it’s not just carrying the extra weight, when I do yoga or Pilates my tummy and it boobs often get in the way. A lot of these positions and techniques are designed for a different type of body shape.

A bigger person working out has had to overcome extra barriers to fitness hence to me extra inspirational.”

Number 3 rings true to me.

I certainly couldn’t do a lot of this and I think she’s amazing to watch. Go look! You decide and tell us what you think.


3 thoughts on “Fat Inspiration or Larger Body Representation? What do you think?

  1. That was awesome to watch. Just walking into a gym when you’re not the “usual” gym bunny size must be daunting enough. I’d be flat out doing some of that stuff and I consider myself to be pretty fit!

  2. What I love about this and others who are tearing down the stereotypical ‘you have to look this way’ image is that people forget it’s a process. Social media is filled with incredibly trim and fit individuals and these individuals usually have had a lifetime of that lifestyle. At least for me, what has been discouraging is seeing fitness videos of super fit and buff people and thinking I can never look like that or more importantly not seeing ‘their journey’. We forget this change doesn’t happen overnight and I love that she is pushing herself and posting her progression, bc that shit ain’t easy. Definitely going to start following her. Thank you for this post. In regards to her being hard on herself. I am the same way. It’s not always the greatest thing to do, but depending on the person, sometimes it’s needed to get our ass into gear.

    1. Sometimes ‘their journey’ is not from fat to un-fat, it’s just a road towards being able to use their bodies in stronger, faster, better ways. That’s ok too. Weight loss does not have to be the proof or the ultimate goal of activity.

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