Images: Instagram (Nick Holliday/Ashy Bines).
Last week, personal trainer Ashy Bines came under fire for a social media post describing US plus-size model Tess Holliday as an unhealthy role model and arguing she shouldn’t be “applauded” for her size.
“Thin girls are slammed A LOT these days but females who are carrying more weight than what they should for their bodies, organs, moods, bones, cells etc. to be ‘healthy’ are now inspirations because they are confident in their swimsuit?” the Gold Coast-based fitness star wrote.
To illustrate her message, the 27-year-old shared a photo of Holliday alongside one of a “clearly underweight” catwalk model, who turned out to be a Brazilian model who died of health complication arising from anorexia.
The point Bines attempted to make was that neither woman reflected a “healthy” image.
While a number of Bines’ fans supported her message, she also drew widespread accusations of body shaming from her followers and international media. In a follow-up video posted on Facebook, Bines defended her views amid the backlash.
“I’m not saying you need to look a certain way to be healthy, but it was quite obvious that both of these women are not healthy. Anyone who says they are, I’m sorry but you’re seriously kidding yourself,” she said.
Bines then went on to speculate about Holliday’s prenatal health.
“Now that you are pregnant also, the risk of birth complications and providing your baby with the nutrients that it needs to have the best start in life, I just don’t think you’re doing a very good job and you’re putting this out to your 1.1 million followers,” Bines, also a mum, said.
Watch: Singer Christine Anu discusses body image. (Post continues after video.)
Until now, Team Holliday has been remained silent — but over the weekend, both Tess and her husband Nick responded to Bines’ posts. And as you might expect, they’re not willing to take her comments lying down.
Tess was first off the block. On Thursday, the 30-year-old — who rose to prominence through her wildly popular #EffYourBeautyStandards social media campaign before being offered a modelling contract — addressed the controversy on Facebook.
It’s abundantly clear she didn’t really take Bines’ words to heart:
“It’s so simple, you can’t look at someone and tell whether or not they are healthy, also using the model’s image that passed away was incredibly distasteful,” she added in the comments section.
“To those of you saying I need to lose weight, no, I don’t. IT’S MY BODY.”
The following morning Nick, an Australian artist, shared his thoughts on the matter in a series of strongly-worded tweets to Bines on Friday morning.
This third tweet referenced the controversy that surrounded Bines last year when it emerged a number of the recipes in her 12 week Bikini Body Challenge had been stolen from other sources.
Nick went on to highlight that Bines’ messages contradicted one another — first suggesting Tess ate too much, then insinuating she wasn’t getting enough nutrients for her pregnant body — and that she was making health observations with no medical expertise.
“You’re not a doctor. You’re not HER doctor. You can tell precisely fuck all about a person’s health by looking at them,” he wrote.
This is a valid point. No matter how well-intentioned Bines claims her message was, she ultimately can’t assess Tess Holliday’s daily nutrient intake or fitness levels (or anyone’s, for that matter) simply by looking at them. (Post continues after gallery.)
Moreover, although she says she’s a personal trainer, Bines isn’t qualified to be giving out health advice or even to decide what is and isn’t “healthy” or worthy of admiration.
“If you attack either very thin or very overweight women and say that they’re bad role models, that isn’t actually helpful to say that we shouldn’t be aspiring to be like this,” Griffith University psychologist and body image expert Dr Caroline Donovan told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“No matter what size or body shape we are we should strive to be healthy.”
What do you think of the Holliday family’s response?