How the Fuck-Off Fairy helped me fight fat-shaming

Guest post by Rebecca

Seriously, fuck off. (Photo by: Cate_DartfingerCC BY 2.0)
I am a member of a high-end gym near my work. It was the only one that worked for me, as far as location, and, let’s face it, I’m a sucker for the Aveda products in the locker room. When I go to the gym, I usually lift heavy, do some cardio, and stick to myself. It is “me time” at its best.

Recently, a personal trainer has been trying to recruit me as a client. When we first met, I told her my goal was to do a pull-up. I’ve been taking some aerial classes, but had plateaued, so decided to lift for a while and build some strength before going back. I told her what I’d been doing, and she was supportive. She made minor noises about how “slimming down” might help me lift my body weight easier. I understand physics well enough to know she is right, and mostly ignored the fat-shaming that was also present in the conversation.

Then this week, she sent an email about a group meeting. It was filled with assumptions about how we were all striving to lose weight and how she wanted a three-day food journal from us so she could help us to eat better. I sent her a note back indicating that I didn’t think I was a good match for her training. I thought I was letting her down gently.

This morning, at the gym, she asked me to talk about the small group training and why I wasn’t sure about it. I mentioned that I didn’t really want to be in a group that was focused on weight loss. She made another comment about how “trimming up” would help with my goal of doing a pull-up. That’s when the Fuck-Off Fairy showed up.

The Fuck-Off Fairy is a special kind of fairy. She shows up on the night of your 30th birthday, while you are sleeping, and waves a magic wand over you.

She comes to release you from the expectations that you should always be nice and polite and say yes to what other people want from you. She helps you see your authentic self, and how beautiful and fabulous that self is, and how the world will not end if you are true to you, rather than to others’ expectations of you.

The Fuck-Off Fairy teaches you to stand up for yourself and believe in your value. She gets that sometimes “fuck off” needs to be said politely and with a smile, but while delivering the message clearly. She is an important part of the coming-of-age process.

Although she typically comes at 30, some people are lucky to get their Fuck-Off Fairy visit at a younger age, others may have to wait a bit longer. It is worthy of note, however, that it is never too late for you to invite her to visit you!

Although she likes to serve women, the Fuck-Off Fairy does not discriminate on the basis of gender.

The Fuck-Off Fairy was sitting on my shoulder during my conversation with the trainer. I was able to stand up for myself and my body. To tell her that my goals were what mattered, not some socio-cultural perception about what my body should be. I explained how exercise, for me, is about enjoying my body and appreciating it — not beating it up or shaming it. I told her that I love what I can do, how strong I’ve become, and how I see improvement every day. I told her that my muscles are amazing, and what I can do with my body is incredible. And I said that I’m not working with someone who doesn’t think my body is perfect and beautiful as it is.

In the trainer’s defense, when I called her out on this matter, she immediately agreed with me. She sees that my strength is impressive and that her job is to help me meet my goals, not to make assumptions about what they are.

As I walked away from this interaction, I offered a little prayer of thanks to the Fuck-Off Fairy. I’m glad she’s part of my life!

Comments on How the Fuck-Off Fairy helped me fight fat-shaming

  1. Ha, thank you for giving a name to this phenomenon! I realized a year or two that “Hey, since I turned 30 I kinda don’t care what other people think as much – particularly strangers. And I’m less afraid of speaking up when I disagree. And I’m less afraid of setting boundaries for how people speak/act around me. And I’m less afraid of cutting the Negative Nancys out of my life – because life’s just too short for that.” I <3 the fairy! 🙂

    • Glad you liked it. They took out the “author’s note” that I had written. A friend of mine who I’ll call “Zipper” gets true credit for the fairy!

      • Hi, R. 🙂 This post and this site always make me smile. I will step forward and “out” myself as “Zipper”.

        I like seeing this idea disseminated. I came back to re-read this after separating from my husband this year and also just having a conversation with my mom in which I found some extra “F-O” dust in my pocket to sprinkle when I needed to defend some personal boundaries. So refreshing.

  2. I love how not only did you stand up for yourself, you also educated the trainer in the process and she was open to it. In her job, it’s got to be rare to meet someone who isn’t striving to “fix” an externally-imposed problem. Hopefully it made her reconsider her assumptions and she carries it forward with future clients.

  3. This is fucking awesome. Just piling on the love toward you for giving this phenomenon a name… I was visited by the fuck off fairy when I was 28, and I don’t regret being an early adopter!

  4. So i think my fuck off fairy came when i was 15/16 really early. I like to think that i was a pretty polite kid growing up to adult and to my peers. But i think it happened cause of being a pregnant teenager. Every single person has a opinion when your pregnant at that age and there is only so many time you can tell some nicely, “no im keeping my baby” before you go cray cray on them. And i dont think my fuck off fairy ever left after that. haha

    • Yes, I think the Fuck-Off Fairy tends to arrive to a lot of women during pregnancy, regardless of age (I’m 26). I’m trying very hard to keep mine in check, actually, as I have been tempted to tell people off a number of times now. While many people are well-meaning, it seems that pregnancy suddenly causes everyone to have opinions about your life where they didn’t before and no filter to keep their mouths shut.

      My Fuck-Off Fairy has come and gone for a number of years now, but I would agree that I’m increasingly reaching the point where I feel that I know my own mind well enough and don’t need to have someone else tell me what I should or shouldn’t think or do.

      • Same idea, opposite problem: my Fuck-Off Fairy tends to come out when defending me and my husband’s decision to not have children (at least, not in the next 5+ years). I’ve given up starting sentences with open-ended questions, such as “guess what?,” or hinting at long-term planning (who knew that me opening a conversation about financial planning would lead to side-eyes about having babies – clearly I didn’t see that train of thought coming). Yes, I know that I’m not getting any younger and that everyone wants a little grandbaby/great-grandbaby/niece/nephew/endearing-tiny-human-term, but please: Back. The. Fuck. Off. I promise, you will be the first people to know when, and IF, we decide to procreate.

        In the meantime, dear people, please see my opinion on your opinion:

        • My word. That link. Its…. Glorious. I’m rarely compelled to put thinks like that on Pinterest… but this one NEEDS to be preserved simply so I can have it for later.

          Also HOLY CRAP Martin Freeman must’ve had that as an on-set meme or something. I can’t imagine why else there is so much video footage of him flipping off the camera/whoever is behind the camera. I love it.

        • I quit telling people ” I’m sorry but… ” or apologizing for what I say or think in any shape, form, or manner. Also, Can’t tell you how that and not “Sir” or “Ma’am” ing all the time got me TONS more respect. Don’t find I end to make myself subservient to others. Just don’t say it n you’ll find others don’t miss it…

  5. I really like this post! The Fairy seemed to arrive with me at 30 too. It is an age I wasn’t looking forward to, but so far it’s actually been the best year of my life.

    I used to hate the feeling as I walked away from an uncomfortable conversation of ‘I should’ve said this, when she spoke to me like that’. Sometimes days later I’d still be irritated by how I hadn’t handled myself well enough. Now I just respectfully put my point across and go on about my day. It’s very freeing 🙂

  6. I wish the fairy would come and visit me yet. I’m still not as solid as I’d like to be. Your story reminds me of a gym I went to four years ago. It’s right next to my job and, admittedly, I was trying to loose weight because it’s the fastest way to end my particular health condition. The first trainer I had there suggested I build up muscle instead. And I really liked his approach, especially when he said “If you’re hungry in the evening, please don’t ignore it and have a glass of water. That’s bull-shit! Eat something healthy (carrots, fruit, yogurt), but please eat.” I liked him and I thought he had something. A few months later, he was fired. I was told he expected too much of his clients. I thought…well that sucks. They stuck me with a new girl (as in, just out of training). An ex-chubby who found redemption being at the gym 6 days a week. Great for her, she looked like she enjoyed it. Because she used to look like me, she thought she knew exactly what I needed.

    I told her right off the bat that I was not interested in any nutritional discussions. Nothing, at all. I’m done with that. I want to learn to move regularly, and move right. Next thing I knew, she had me on the food journal thing. Three weeks later, she sets up an appointment and brings me in an office. I sit down, she closes the door and I realize it is a nutritionist’s office. She spent 1 hour hitting me over the head with what I really should be doing.

    I should have gotten up and slammed the door within the first five minutes. But I didn’t, and I was nearly reduced to tears before she was done. I never went back to that gym (or any gym for a while). Two months later I realized I should probably go back and get the stuff in my locker.
    It’s when I remember that day that I try and prepare myself for the fairy’s visit. I feed my resolve with books like The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts, and Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion. The last one, really helped with the “I have a right to say it, I really do! F*ck-off!” I’m not there yet, but it’s coming. Every time I read a story like yours, I get one step closer. Thank you.

    • It is too bad how much the fitness industry strives on shaming. I flat out rejected the other (lower end) gym that was in the same neighborhood because of the way they fat-shamed when I walked in just to inquire.

      Thank you for your story!

    • Have you tried following up with the trainer you liked? If you remember his name, you might be able to find a personal website, or his new place of business. I’m sure he’d want to find a way to take you on as a client again. It’s hard to find a trainer that’s a good fit, and they are worth holding on to!

      • You are right, they are very rare. I should have, but I didn’t. It was years ago and, at the time, the convenience of having a gym right next to my job was what I needed (so I would have no reason not to stop by). So I kept on there. Of course, looking back, that wasn’t the best idea. I hope he found the clients he deserved; he was a great guy.

  7. I love how you exercise but not for loosing weight. It has been something I have been wrestling with lately. I love working a sweat, but I get sick of hearing instructors saying things like “Just imagine all the calories your burning!”

    My bosses has another name for your fuck-off fairy, it’s called loosing your “filter.” They say how as you get older your politeness filter slowly dissolves, and you say what is really on your mind. XD They’ll love the Fuck Off Fairy.

    • I totally agree! I’m a pretty “healthy” weight at the moment, and in fact, it would be unhealthy for me to drop much weight, and the gym instructors **still** use “LET’S ALL LOSE SOME POUNDS!!@!” as their rallying cry. I especially hate “JUST IMAGINE HOW HOT YOU WILL LOOK IN THOSE FLIRTY SUMMER DRESSES!!” Actually, Friend, I’m here for the emotional and mental benefits, and I’d appreciate it if we didn’t all focus on the physical stuff. I can handle the Yoga instructor’s “Let’s get Stronger!” (They don’t yell as much in yoga class), but wouldn’t it be awesome if they yelled “LET’S ALL EXPERIENCE GREATER MENTAL STABILITY THROUGH THE POWER OF ENDORPHINS!”

    • Thanks. Yes, the other faculty member who I asked laughed quite hard when she heard my APA question!! I’m weak on APA (especially version 6) so thought I’d get some help!

  8. Just want to give a high five for APA formatting of the Fuck-Off Fairy (yes, 6th edition blech), and a double high five for the Fuck-Off Fairy partnering with you so brilliantly for this transaction. Although I recognize I’m gender stereotyping when I associate the word “fairy” with a female character, there is something personally empowering for me about my assumptions of her femaleness. Often when I need the help of the Fuck-Off Fairy, I’m also coping with the negative messages I’ve learned about my ability/rights to stand up for myself as a female. Something about harnessing the badass power of a well boundaried, insightful female Fuck-Off Fairy is extra helpful and grounding to me. The strength of the Fuck-Off + the Feminine of the Fairy = Yes, In this moment I can stand up for myself, believe in my value, AND identify as female! One does not negate the other. Brilliant.

    • Her original conception, by my friend “Zipper” was to help women, which is why she has a strong feminine presentation. The expectations for women to be something they (we) aren’t is so strong, that’s why she was created for us. One of my friends represents her as a cat. But however you want to see her, is the right way. She’s magical like that.

  9. Oh, I so hate the assumption that everyone everywhere must want to lose weight/get thinner/eat only vegetables from now on. I really like the idea of the Fuck-Off Fairy for strangers who project that onto you. What drives me super crazy, though, is the way my friends talk about food a lot of the time–how when they eat cheese they’re being “bad,” or how they say things like “I’m going to have another brownie because I hate myself.” Male and female friends alike! They’re not policing me, so telling them to fuck off is too much (and feels harsh for friends), but it can result in a mini shame spiral of commiseration while I sit there awkwardly.

    Maybe I need a deflection dryad that can help me change the subject…

    • My friends are the same way. Being a strength athlete who still indulges in occasional treats, I’ve found that the best way to counter comments like that is to say how much you love what you’re eating. For example:

      “I’m going to have another brownie because I hate myself.”
      “I’m going to have another brownie, too, because they’re fucking delicious.”

      Then you end up talking about how good the brownies are.

      • That’s a great response because really, they’re basically saying, “I feel guilty about eating a brownie so I want everyone else to feel guilty too.”

        And you’re saying “FUCK THAT SHIT!”

          • I once had someone ask me if something was my “guilty pleasure.”

            I looked him straight in the eye and said “I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures.”

            Life is too short to feel shitty about things that make you happy.

  10. OMG these 2 characters are the best! I should not have read this at work, as I had 2 coworkers ask if I was ok since my face was turning so red from laughing. I had to tell them all about the Fairy and the Dwarf. Luckily it amused them too.

  11. I love this. The Fuck Off Fairy has arrived on my shoulder in the last year (since turning 30, amusingly), and she is immensely helpful in reminding me that I. AM. AWESOME.

    In the last year, I’ve been able to start telling people what I need from them (the hardest being my husband and my mother – but I’m doing much better!), being able to stop being polite and actually disagreeing with people when they make comments that enforce stereotypes… and also just thinking about what I’m saying/meaning more often.

    My current battle is when people do something that pisses me off and say “Sorry about that”. The “default” response it “That’s okay”, but if it’s NOT okay, I’m striving to not automatically respond with that and say “Thank you for your apology”.

    • That’s really great, I’d never even thought about the “that’s ok” response (or in my case, “no worries”, cuz I’m okker like that), but now that you mention it, it does rather leave something to be desired as far as a response goes.

  12. I love this! I’m 27 and I think the Fuck Off Fairy just came to me recently, and I love finally having the confidence to stand up for myself. In certain situations I can’t be as assertive as I like (work), but I like to think that people see the Fuck Off glimmer in my eyes now even when I can’t say anything.

  13. Yes! The fuck-off fairy started gracing me with visits in my twenties, and upped her visits as I got older – more frequently since I started lifting weights 🙂

  14. The Fuck-Off Fairy came to me right after high-school graduation (I was a precocious youth) in the guise of the Honey Badger. As in, “Honey Badger don’t care. Honey Badger don’t give a shit.” Now whenever I feel the pressure of any kind of shaming or unpleasant situation, I ask myself, “What would Honey Badger do? Honey Badger don’t give a shit.” It has worked wonders!

  15. Any trainer worth his/her salt would have heard “wants to do pull-up” + “doesn’t want to lose weight” and thought, “then that means I need to teach this person how to get stronger.” Instead, your trainer decided to try forcing you to work towards a goal you weren’t interested in, probably because weight-loss clients are the only kind she knows how to train.

    Perfect time for the Fuck-Off Fairy to come out, indeed.

    • She mentioned she wasnt interested in a group dedicated to weight loss. This confused the trainer as most people go to the gym for that mere goal. Also because her goal was to do one pullup, the steps are simple:

      1-Build functional strenght and mass
      2-Dispose of useless bodyweight.

      Not the same doing a 200lb pullup than a 400lb one. Im exaggerating, of course. And so this is what the trainer meant in all honesty to tell her, but she couldnt have known she would get offended at that. She was trying to help her reach her goal the fastest and most logical way. She was in all her right to tell her she wanted, another way though. Simple as that.

  16. When I turned 30, my sister turned 35, and she told me that while turning 30 wasn’t that bad, turning 35 was really hard. I told her it wouldn’t be hard for me. When she asked why I thought that, I reminded her that she would then be 40! I think that’s the first time the Fuck-Off Fairy visited me. 🙂 I turned 50 last year and I’ve realized that you get very comfortable with the FOF and she becomes a regular part of your life! And yes, I’m a Fabulous Fifty, of course! 🙂

    BTW, I also exercise for me and me alone. Yes, I could probably lose some weight, but it’s really more about feeling good in my body and being able to do things that I never really thought I could do. I don’t even have a scale, but I *have* run (run/walk) a marathon!

    • I’m 47 and have been receiving visits from the Passive-aggressive Pixie since my early 30s. I’ve banished her recently and now look forward to the first of what I hope will be many visits from the Fuck-off Fairy. She’s awesome.

  17. This makes me think about a similar experience I had at a new gym a few years ago. My lifestyle had gotten a lot less healthy since getting a desk job, and I was really proud of myself for finally committing to a gym membership to get back on track with my health. So I’m sitting there for my “free training” session, in which half of the time is actually spent in an interview trying to make you feel bad enough about yourself to purchase personal training sessions. The trainer takes my weight and body fat % and shows me that I’m not even on the chart for the gym because I’m too heavy. I told him that my main focus was to get back in better shape, and if losing weight was a result, that would be great. He then wanted to know how much I weighed at my happiest. It pissed me off that he was trying to work this angle, but I told him. He wrote that down as my “goal weight” and then proceeded to shame me because my “goal weight” was still considered Obese and I shouldn’t be satisfied with that. It was like he just couldn’t comprehend that I could be happy with how I looked if my BMI wasn’t under 23. I almost started crying I was so pissed. Needless to say, I didn’t purchase any training sessions.

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