Nut [nuht]: a person who is mad, crazy, or foolish.
Rat [rat]: A rodent; sometime responsible for transmitting diseases.
Freak [freek]: a person on exhibition as an example of a strange deviation from nature; monster.
I am writing to you today to address a stigma in today’s society. I am writing this article because this stigma is rarely realized and rarely spoken about. Today, I will ask you why we bestow negativity upon positive action. Read with an open heart. Read with an open mind and please, never call me a gym freak.
In my time, I have been called a health nut, a gym rat, and a fitness freak. These terms have not been swept under the rug or whispered behind closed doors. Many people including close personal friends of mine have called me these things directly to my face. It never dawned on me until recently that there is something significantly wrong with this. Why are people with a high fitness level ostracized for making phenomenal personal decisions? Should this dedication not be celebrated and revered? The words freak, nut and rat are thrown around with such an ease, such a shaking pointed finger that it seems many have forgotten that fitness is fantastic. This brings me to the question of the day. When you examine the following question, examine your heart and evaluate your own personalized stigmas around this situation.
Why is health and fitness often associated with derogatory terms?
If I called my mother a freak, I would probably be grounded for a month! I am fully grown with a job and if those words came out of my mouth, I would have to check in with her before I left my apartment. Think about calling your grandma a complete nut. I believe your result would be the same as mine as you would swiftly catch the business end of a wooden spoon on the backside. Our final word of the scornful trinity is rat. I know what you are about to say, “Hey Chad! The word ‘rat’ has two meanings!” Yes, I am fully aware that a rat can mean a person who frequents a specific location. However, when that word is spoken the mind immediately jumps to a dirty, sewer creature. Again I ask you, why is health and fitness associated with derogatory terms?
Just because you love to run marathons does not justify negativity. Just because you are a yoga goddess or can swim like a fish does not merit disapproval. Just because you have a burning desire within yourself to change for the better does not make you a freak, a nut, or a rat. These things make you beautiful. Embrace your passions and shine for all to see.
This is a formal call to action to break down this stigma and cease the oxymoron. Negativity bestowed upon positive people, it is simply not right. Be proud of your friends who make the extra effort to better themselves and take pride in yourself if and when you do the same.
Celebrate the success found in fitness. Rejoice when the ones around you meet personal goals. Love yourself and love the ones around you for this world runs much better when kindness is shown. I will say this only one more time so listen when I repeat. Being healthy is a beautiful thing, so never call me a gym freak.
Written by Chad Baird | BCMM Public Relations Student | Mount Royal University
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