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Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
July 2, 2023 ·  4 min read

‘Not OK’: Woman told to leave gym over sports bra

Going to the gym can be intimidating for many people. This woman recently worked up the courage and joined one. On her third trip there, however, she was devastated and completely mortified when an employee asked her to leave for breaking the dress code. She was wearing a long sports bra top and matching tights. She claims they fat-shamed her.

Woman Wearing Sports Bra Kicked Out Of Gym

A woman named Shelby Bellz posted an emotional video on TikTok recently after she felt she was wrongly dismissed from the gym for wearing a sports bra. The employees claimed it was against the dress code to wear a sports bra with no other top in the gym, but Shelby felt that she was fat-shamed and that this wouldn’t have happened if she were smaller. She showed her outfit for reference in the video. The young woman was wearing tights with a matching long sports bra-style top where there was just a small gap between the top of the tights and the bottom of the bra.

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“You Can’t Show Your Belly”

Shelby was first informed of this dress code by the receptionist at the gym’s front desk. The employee said that it was fine for this time, but to be aware in the future that “showing your belly” is not allowed at that gym. Fifteen minutes later while she was on the treadmill, another employee approached her and asked her to leave, citing the dress code.

While Shelby states that the dress code is what it is and she can’t change it, there were a couple of things she found problematic with the situation.

“Number one is how the lady at the front desk spoke to me. I said, ‘Oh we’re not allowed to wear a sports bra?’ And she said, ‘Well we can’t just have our bellies hanging out,’ in a belittling tone.” she said in her video. “Problem two is that she told me it was OK, that it was OK for this time but for next time to wear something else,”

Some commenters told her that she had blown the situation out of proportion. They said that it was fat-shaming or discrimination, simply a company enforcing its pre-determined rules. Shelby addressed this in another video.

“That was only my third visit to the gym and to have that interaction go down when you have barely even been there a week is very demeaning and all over, not an experience anyone would want to go through,” she said.

She went on to say that she genuinely believed that had it been a smaller woman, they would not have had the same experience.

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Fat Shaming And Discrimination Is A Problem In The United States

Whether Shelby’s case was or wasn’t fat discrimination and shaming doesn’t disregard the fact that this is a problem in America and around the world. Weight bias is a growing problem. People who are overweight or obese are routinly treated differently than those who are not: In the work place, in medical settings, and more.

The problem is such that in some states lawmakers have actually passed laws against weight discrimination. This way, those who are mistreated because of their size will actually have legal recourse that they didn’t have before. Cities that have passed such laws include:

  • San Francisco
  • Santa Cruz
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Urbana, IL
  • Binghamton, NY
  • Madison, WI
  • The entire state of Michigan

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Examples Of Weight Discrimination And Bias

There are many implicit biases that people have against those who are overweight and obese. In many instances, you might not realize you even have them. For instance, many people believe that overweight and obese people are lazy or lack willpower. This is a generalization and in many instances is not true. 

Many people who are above a certain BMI range are passed over for jobs, projects, and promotions despite their qualifications because of their weight. They are made fun of, called names, and ridiculed as if they aren’t humans with feelings. Many have been denied scholarships, loans, or prevented from buying a home because of weight bias. Even in the medical setting they are treated poorly and receive a lower quality of care because of their size.

This type of discrimination, though experienced by both men and women, is even worse for the latter. In fact, some studies show that discrimination based on weight is even more of a problem than that of race for women.

It is important that we all check ourselves for this bias in the same way we check ourselves for homophobia, racism, and sexism. Treating someone differently because of their weight isn’t, has never been, and never will be okay. Changing the mentality of society starts with changing our own individual mindsets.

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