Dani Mathers, Playboy’s 2015 Playmate of the Year, says she “accidentally” posted a mocking Snapchat image of a woman daring to shower at an LA Fitness without first remembering to be skinny. So now Mathers has joined the pantheon of the sorry/not-sorry who’ve issued public apologies for behavior they thought was no biggie, like, three days ago. She’s totally not the fat-shaming mean girl she proved herself to be when she was meanly fat-shaming somebody! She’s going to take some time to figure out just how she could have sunk so low. She became a model because she loves the female body and even though she was completely making fun of a female body, she would never make fun of the female body. (Okay….) And she means it!
As one of those overweight LA Fitness members who manages to shower in the locker room all the time without blinding anyone with my offensive back fat, I don’t accept Mather’s apology – She seemed more sorry that she mistakenly mocked this stranger to the whole world, rather than just one friend, and seems clueless as to why both things are wrong, even when you don’t get caught. Besides, it’s not me, or humanity, or the spectre of the female body she needs to apologize to. It’s the woman she photographed, without her permission, captioning the image “If I can’t unsee this, then neither can you.”
And that poor woman, presumably minding her own business while showering after the workout she just did because she’s trying to be healthy, is the only person Mathers didn’t actually apologize to.
Fear of locker room shaming is nothing new – fitness magazines and Web sites list it as a reason why people, overweight and otherwise, don’t like changing at gyms, or change in the bathroom stall or even behind the still-wet shower curtain, afraid to be publicly naked for even the few seconds it takes to twist themselves into a towel. It’s also a reason that some overweight people don’t go to the gym in the first place, and then don’t work out, and then remain overweight, and maybe unhealthy, and then become fatter while mean, fitter people make fun of them because they don’t go to the gym.
You can see how this is a problem.
There was probably a time when I was self-conscious about letting my less-than-svelte body see the light of day at the gym, particularly in the presence of younger, fitter, more muscular ones. I wondered what those women must think about me, how offensive my cellulite must be to them, what they must be thinking of my baggy shorts and random concert festival giveaway tank top as they donned their tight Lululemon yoga pants and accessorized sports bras.
And then I got over myself. First of all, most of the people in there are trying to do the same thing you are, which is get fit, get in and get out, which is what etiquette prescribes. They’re not worried about what I look like because they’re in their own heads, planning their own days. They’re not in there worried about middle-aged women rinsing off after fighting with the Stair Master, so other than finding their lack of body fat somewhat aspirational, I’ve decided not to worry about them. Do you, Boo. Good for you.
Then again, my nervousness is justified by trolls like Mathers, a woman whose job as a Playboy model requires her to maintain a certain look, both with exercise and, from the evidence of some of the photos on her Facebook page, surgical assistance. That’s her right – she can do whatever she wants with her body, because it’s hers. And that’s why what she did to that woman she has yet to publicly acknowledge was so awful, so casually cruel, We’re all out there trying to be the best us we can be, whatever that means to us, whether our pictures adorn a Playboy cover or the refrigerator. Anyone who gets out there to try to change themselves, to do the work, is to be commended, not ridiculed.
Every time these fake, possible lawyer or publicist-directed apologies are released, it seems we’re continuously confirming that we are a callous society that not only revels in thinking ourselves better than other people, but can’t wait to let everyone else know it. If Mathers had just texted her friend “Eww, there’s a fat lady over there in the shower” it would still have been mean and unneccessary. But she crossed a line by snapping a photo in the locker room – which happens to be a crime – and including it in her post ratchets up the cruelty, whether it was meant for one equally mean friend of 10,000. And it’s done more than subject Mathers to a possible $100,000 fine and a year in jail – it singled out a stranger as someone whose natural state is so hideous that you’re trying to unsee it.
Seems the ugly person is you, Dani Mathers. That woman you picked on, whose only sin seems to be trying to live her life with people like you around? She’s in there doing work. And that’s a pretty good look.