Dear Dani Mathers: Yes, I’m Not Satisfied With My Body. No, You Don’t Have to Capture it for the World to See.

Dear Dani Mathers,

We’re all human, right? I’m sure that you know precisely why what you did was inconsiderate, superficial, disturbing, and frankly, downright foolish.  I forgive you for apologizing and having to deal with the influx of comments coming at your way–some well-deserved, others are pretty ruthless without real significance. And I’m sure that a lot of the public and the media have forgotten about you too. But nobody, including myself, cannot forgive you for how you made that woman feel.

The last time I visited 24 Hour Fitness, I had a pretty amazing time. This particular gym was large, clean, beautiful, graced with all kinds of equipment and of course, packed with driven and motivated members. Currently I have no gym membership nor did I purchase one there because I don’t need it, but I ran into some kind women who complemented my shirt and I returned the favor by complementing their leggings. After that, I moved on with my workout and the rest of my day, forgetting about everybody else in the gym like any typical person would do. Nobody judged me and I didn’t judge anybody. You are more secure when you focus on yourself than if you were to nitpick everything around you.

It is people like you who prevent others who want to start a weight loss journey or any kind of health and fitness journey from visiting the gym and taking action to improve themselves. That is what the gym is supposed to be: a non-discriminatory sanctuary where people of all shapes and sizes are welcomed and supported for working hard to become better. America’s been hit by an obesity epidemic along with other plagues of illnesses, yet we can’t even allow them to go to the gym without feeling embarrassed?

In analyzing the situation, you basically executed multiple strikes:

  1. You photographed a complete stranger without her consent. Some people absolutely hate being on camera and can actually become very irritable if they look at themselves from a photo–as a YouTube vlogger, TRUST ME on this one.
  2. The both of you were in a public facility. Let me remind you that 24 Hour Fitness had to call the police in order to protect itself so that she wouldn’t have to sue the company for something that they are not entirely responsible for and the burden you imposed upon them and that woman.
  3. Before uploading the photo on Snapchat, you chose to write a disgusting caption that clearly was meant to body shame a woman who came to the with the sole knowledge that she is imperfect and she wants to improve her health and physique. You don’t have to rub it in people’s faces, and you probably hindered her progress because she is now that much more insecure about herself and her qualifications to go to the gym because she’d worry she’ll run into more people like you. FYI, I can totally unsee the image of that woman you photographed because she is just like any other woman you see on the streets. She’s not a bloody whale, and even if she is, so fucking what?
  4. She was bare-butt naked, aka that photo is basically a form of pornography. Not to say that nudity should be something that is totally censored, but in our societal standards, it is, and because of that, people feel uncomfortable being seen naked. I guess this isn’t a problem for you since you’re a Playboy model.

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Are you aware of the insecurities bombarded upon women because of our culture? Nowadays, the ideal body type is packaged with expectations that are either unrealistic or unsustainable. I deal with insecurities all the time because there is so much pressure for me to constantly be in shape. Every day I look in the mirror and I find at least one thing that I want to eradicate. One morning it’s my stomach pooch. The next morning it’s my clumps of armpit fat. The day after, I dread that my tits are nonexistent unless I wear a push-up bra, which I’m sure you know is a pain in the ass. Sometimes for the whole duration of the week, I’m aware I’ve put on weight as I curl up into a ball, wishing to press a button that would eliminate all of my insecurities. I don’t know, it might just be my own personal mental issue that I’m learning to accept.

The aspect of beauty in our culture can drive women to madness (hello, Human Barbie.). South Korea currently boasts the highest rate of cosmetic plastic surgery because their media glorifies women with porcelain doll-like features, hence driving girls who aren’t even out of high school yet to get nose jobs, chin implants, jaw reductions, and double lid procedures. I have absolutely nothing against plastic surgery nor do I think it’s entirely a bad thing so as long as it’s safe, but this is simply an example of how social standards motivate their public. That goes to say that American women are pressured into purchasing cosmetics, lying in a tanning bed, inserting breast and lip implants, buying hair extensions, wearing the latest trends, and also making sure that their body measurements are as close to model/celeb ideals as possible. On top of that, women and girls alike are allured into the dieting world of fat burners, pills, corset trainers, calorie-deficient meal plans, juicing/fasting cleanses and the overall stigma that they alone are not enough. Not surprisingly, the rates of eating disorders are much lower in Eastern cultures because of less exposure to such media, but they are sadly increasing due to the rise of value in physical beauty.

Our bodies are simply made up of our bones, flesh and organs that work together as a whole to function our physical system. Dating back to millions of years ago, all that mattered was that you were alive, you were healthy, and you were fertile so that your offspring could pass on your genetics for survival. No one cared if you had stomach rolls or if you had a little cellulite around your legs. In fact, they needed that extra fat to carry as energy they needed for the future if they were to find less food or perform more activity the next day. Back then, females of these cultures didn’t have any surface-level standards to follow. If they were alive and well, they were grateful and happy. Shouldn’t we not waste so much time on whether or not our inner thighs are touching each other?

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So Dani, whether or not you are one hundred-percent satisfied with your body is none of my business. From this incident, I am sure that you don’t have enough in yourself since you had that much time to observe that of another woman’s and place it according to your own standards rather than solely taking care of yourself. I don’t know what kind of people work in the modeling industry, hence I don’t know what they look like, but the majority of us don’t have supermodel body stats, and remember that’s okay. As I’ve iterated earlier in this post, I’m not satisfied with my body. I know I can look tighter and fitter, maybe even leaner. It’s just that it’s not necessary for me to expose my naked body for the world to see my insecurities because everybody knows we all have them.

As a last word of advice: we don’t have to obsess so much over our outer vessel because it’s really just there for us to walk, breathe, talk, digest our food, sleep and clean out our organs. There’s no reason to do the same for other people. Just take care of yourself, love yourself and carry out the energy you wish in your own life.

To the woman directly targeted during this event: I am so, undenyingly sorry for the trauma posed upon you. I absolutely wish that there is a way I can help you recover from this completely, but I know that is not at all possible and it all comes from within you. Dani doesn’t remotely represent the attitude the fitness industry executes towards newcomers. If you are on your own journey, whether through weight loss, health and/or fitness-related, please know that we are here for you, we are here to support you, cheer you on all along the way and help you reach your goals. You are beautiful. You are powerful. You are invincible, and you are necessary. Value yourself as if you were a little girl–treat yourself like a princess and nurture yourself to become a queen.

What are your thoughts on the Dani Mathers incident?

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