A woman in Tennessee is opening up about an experience of body-shaming at a local gym, during which an employee informed her that she’d have to leave the facility if she didn’t wear a shirt over her sports bra.
Julia Maren first shared her story on Instagram earlier in September, blasting the establishment for contributing to a culture of “double standards and sexism.”
“So you’re telling me that because three inches of my waist is exposed that I’m not welcome in the gym but meanwhile … Chad is over there with a cutout that shows his whole nipple?” she wrote in the post. “Got it. Thank you for taking time out of your day to let me know that double standards and sexism still exist.”
Maren told Fox News that incidents such as hers are why women “still find ourselves forced to believe our shapes will never be good enough.”
More recently, Maren released a follow-up on YouTube detailing the incident, and the reasons why she brought it to her followers’ attention. On Thursday, she also told Fox News that she wanted to dispel the drama surrounding her specific experience to shine light on a bigger issue.
“It’s upsetting that there’s a culture of shame revolving around women’s bodies and scnearios like this just add to it,” she said. “What’s wrong with my waist, you know? Pair that with marketing, like Weight Watchers and diet pills and everything, and we still find ourselves forced to believe our shapes will never be good enough.”
Plus, as she pointed out on YouTube, “women just don’t feel as comfortable in the gym as men do.”
In her video, Maren explained that she, like many women, is most comfortable exercising in a sports bra – an item of clothing that her gym allegedly did not include among the prohibited apparel in its dress code.
In fact, Maren claims that when she signed up for the gym and agreed to their written policies, there was no language about a dress code at all.
“It wasn’t really an act of rebellion… If that’s what I’m most comfortable and I don’t want to be drenched in sweat, then why wouldn’t I work out in that at a gym?”
Only a few months into the practice, however, is when she said she was “aggressively” told to cover up or leave – and she described it as an experience that would have killed her confidence in her younger years.
“When I think about the person that I used to be… an experience like that would have crushed me, and I literally would never have gone back to a gym because of it.”
Maren added that she’s speaking out about the experience for the benefit of women like herself, but also to break the “cycle” of sexism and body-shaming surrounding women’s clothing and bodies.
“If somehow where we can get to a place, universally, where women don’t have to constantly feel like their body isn’t enough, and they are not good enough, [for] whatever shape or size you are, then we have not done enough,” she said in the video.
“And that’s where I’ll end.”