Sluts can relax. There’s yet another demographic being shamed. Kale enthusiasts everywhere are on high alert, forced to keep their green smoothies under wraps, hiding their blended antioxidant concoctions under concealment of metal coffee mugs to avoid what is generally called "Salad Shaming."
Salad Shaming isn’t new and it isn’t just happening on the Internet. It happens all the time, in real life – at water coolers, in restaurants, at parties – really anywhere folks who innocently engage in facets of healthy living like eating sensibly and working out are vulnerable to public stone throwing.
I haven’t commented on this phenomenon because I’m a lucky health nut surrounded by friends who for the most part are on the same page about healthy eating, exercise and overall lifestyle and who tend to use me as an encyclopedia of all things nutrition, health and fitness related. Although, I have been the receiver of for instance, a passive aggressive Salad Shaming email with the subject line, "Have you heard of this?" that contained a link to the Wikipedia page on Orthorexia. I’m able to recognize what was meant to be the humor in that, but my rant button was pushed hardcore when one of my fit-livin’ buddies recounted a "health shaming" incident they recently suffered to me.
Here is a generalized example of what went down in order to protect both the innocent and the guilty. Healthy Person is at their corporate job when a "catered" lunch is brought in to the office. Oh joy – it’s multiple pizzas from a national franchise! There must have been a deal on cheese stuffed crust mega meat pizza with free frosted deep fried cinnamon sugar sticks for dessert. Healthy Person scoots around the morning’s leftover donut spread and opts for their brown bag packed full of clean, fresh foods and sips from their refillable water bottle.
The healthy person’s co-workers observe in shock between bites of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. They gulp sugary soda pop while they question Healthy Person’s choices and motives. Chortles arise as Healthy Person laces up sneakers to conclude the lunch break with a quick stroll. They chastise healthy person with snide comments about lettuce as they wipe the pepperoni grease off their chins. The co-workers engage in more "shaming" while sipping their afternoon Trenta Frappuccinos when they observe Healthy Person change into workout clothes and head to the gym for an after work workout.
The comments seem innocent. And they are usually uttered with a smile. It all began with "You’re just ordering a salad?" Then, quips like, "How can you eat THAT plate of brown rice and vegetables with this all-you-can-eat chicken wing and blue cheese dressing buffet right here?" became more common. Now, there’s always a member of the #FitFam getting harassed at group celebrations with "Why don’t you have some birthday cake, you are so fit?" or "You can have a corn dog, you work out and eat so healthy all the time!"
This type of criticism can be uncomfortable; to have eating or fitness habits called out and spot lit in this manner. Photos of clean eating creations or sweat sessions may go viral on social media but, when a group of people engaging in a collective refined sugar and saturated fat festival and are interrupted by an individual not partaking, it becomes prime territory for a Salad Shaming incident.
The victim feels singled out, like they don’t "fit in" and becomes ashamed for making choices to improve their personal health. It’s as if they are being societally punished for eating a certain way and for doing activities that make them feel healthy.
But, there is a paradox here.
Who is really getting shamed when "How can you eat tofu?" or "Are you really going for a jog on your break?" is uttered? The old saying, "point a finger at someone else and you are actually pointing three back at yourself" may be what is actually going down.
The "shamer" most likely feels ashamed of their own lack of healthy knowledge, their inability to partake in better food choices or refusal to commit to an exercise routine.
I’m sure it will be pointed out that this entire piece could in fact be looked at as "unhealthful shaming" or even "fat shaming." But, that ain’t my jam, people. I love and respect all my fellow human beings regardless of their personal health choices and I enjoy being an example and resource for people who want to open themselves up to the benefits of healthy choices. So, there’s a moral of the story to this rant.
Salad Shaming can be mutually beneficial. The victim can offer to share tips on how they transitioned to and stick to healthy habits, they can invite co-workers for an after work Zumba class, they can bring the group a healthy option in catered situations where they know crap is going to be served. The "shamer," who most likely is curious to try a taste of healthy person’s lentils and quinoa can request guidance, ask polite, sincere questions or join Healthy Person for a pre-work stroll or yoga class.
The way I see it, Salad Shaming is an opportunity for both parties involved to take the highway to health.
Lindsay Garric is a Milwaukee native who calls her favorite city home base for as long as her lifestyle will allow her. A hybrid of a makeup artist, esthetician, personal trainer and entrepreneur all rolled into a tattooed, dolled-up package, she has fantasies of being a big, bad rock star who lives in a house with a porch and a white picket fence, complete with small farm animals in a version of Milwaukee that has a tropical climate.
A mishmash of contradictions, colliding polar opposites and a dash of camp, her passion is for all pretty things and the products that go with it. From makeup to workouts, food to fashion, Lindsay has a polished finger on the pulse of beauty, fashion, fitness and nutrition trends and is super duper excited to share that and other randomness from her crazy, sexy, gypsy life with the readers of OnMilwaukee.com.