(Continued from part 1)
I gathered what I had left and composed a message to her “tribe.”
I told them that they were not in fact, in a safe space as we once presumed. I told them that her husband and her had used my body change as their own personal source of sick entertainment and that I literally felt everything draining from my body. I didn’t post what she had sent, however. Just left it vague. I posted it and waited for the downfall. Slowly women started seeing it.
Some commented and some reached out to see if it was actually true. Some used words like “drama” to describe what was going on. They wanted proof that I wasn’t lying to them about it. After 3 years of being with these women, some still assumed I was just trying to randomly start something this serious for… fun? I guess?
15 long minutes later, my post was gone and I was kicked out of the group. I received a message from her denying the whole thing:
“How could you just put up a post like that! You don’t even know what you’re talking about!”
I assured her I saw the actual text message and then she said she was:
-Sorry I saw it (not sorry she said it),
-Sorry she sent it (not sorry she said it),
-And sorry it happened (never once saying Stacey I’m sorry I let my husband talk about your body in that way and mostly for encouraging it by laughing).
I stopped responding. She clearly did not understand what she had done. She didn’t get the personal ramifications of her actions. How completely crushed she had made me in all of this. She was worried about her own reputation. She offered me a refund for year 2 of the business program and said “obviously you’re quitting the club.” I reminded her that I didn’t quit– she kicked me out– because she got scared. She also blocked me and my closest friends from absolutely every list and social media outlet she has.
I collapsed into a heaping pile of hyperventilating sobs to my husband as I once again tried to understand it all. We went for a long walk and I talked to both my husband and my friends about everything as I drafted my final note to this trainer in my head. My final attempt to get across to her how much internal damage she had caused for me.
I told her that she was a mean person, that what she did was 100% bullying, that she should be ashamed and owes it to the club to tell the truth, and hoped she would teach her young children to do better.
The days that followed were full of insane highs and deep, dark lows. I have depression and anxiety that tends to be very situational, and this was a time that warranted both to be on high. I contemplated getting out of bed. I functioned as basic as I could as a mom and a wife just to get through the day. I started questioning everyone around me- do they still love and accept me? Are they embarrassed by me too? Do I even have value here? I asked my husband at least once a day if he felt “trapped” in our marriage because I gained all of this weight now- I mean, if someone else’s husband notices enough to comment, surely mine was bothered too, right? Maybe they are right and I’m much better off if I just lose weight, no matter what the cost?
More and more pieces of who this trainer really is- how she runs her business- came out and it was hard to stomach. It was hard to sit on my hands quietly knowing this woman would continue to work with and influence other women. It was actually maddening. I watched and listened as she hid behind her computer screen, covered in tears, “being transparent” with her business group and in her tribe “explaining” what happened.
Except she didn’t explain.
She said that she had apologized to me (well, she apologized that I found out). She told the other women that me and my friends that left the club shortly before this happened or after this happened were “problems that needed to be dealt with anyway.” She said we were filled with excuses and were OK with mediocrity. She said we didn’t fit anymore. She said that in all of this she learned not to be friends with people (referring to the group of year 3 business girls she sent the text to. As you recall, she was all but squeezing me out with animosity in her fitness group at that point- not anything I’d call even close to a “friendship”). She said someone was trying to sabotage her business and that’s why I found out.
I’m sorry… does that sound like an apologyto you?
My friends who left her “tribe” prior to this all happening left on their own will because the tone of the tribe had changed.
My friends who left her “tribe” after this happened were sick about the whole thing and wanted nothing to do with her. These friends and acquaintances are some of the most genuine and caring people I’ve “met.” (Because we only know each other through online interaction.) These women were ready to go to battle for me over this. Some of them forfeited a LOT of money in her business program because they wanted nothing to do with her but couldn’t get out of contract otherwise. These women also believed that you didn’t need to be a certain size or shape to love your body. They posted funny pictures that made others laugh in the “tribe.” They were ANYTHING but problems- and all the while that they existed in the “tribe,” she had no problem continuing to collect their money- our money- even though she was clear she didn’t want us there.
We were all used as a diversion to keep her from having to tell the full truth. Getting the ones who were left to look at us in a way that made them think it was actually a good thing we left.
There was a clear division at that point for many of the girls in the tribe. I was contacted by a few of them and very honest about everything. I let them make their own decisions in the matter, but for most after just seeing what this trainer had sent in the text message, their mind was made up. Some of my friends and I were unfriended, our businesses were unfollowed, and my business was even verbally attacked 3 times by one of her “tribe” members. The third time the member went under my IG post about being pregnant and accused me of spreading lies, calling people names, being a bully, started her post with “how’s that cake treating you” and finished it all off with “Fat Whale !!!!!!!!!!!” She accused me of spreading lies. She told me I was the bully. I was the one that said mean things about her trainer.
I am passionate about telling the truth in all of this because ultimately she got to hide and avoid accountability for the majority of the women she works with- and the ones she will work with in the future as she continues to grow her business.
She blocked me and my friends from EVERYTHING social media. She didn’t tell her group the REAL truth- or much of any truth at to be quite frank. Many of them bought it- or just didn’t really know what to believe and how to react. And as a result, I had people coming after me and calling me a bully and liar.
If you need a refresher as to how this all started, PLEASE refer back to part one and read the text message exchange.
I told the full story (in a little less detail than this blog) on my personal page. I didn’t include her name or screen shots of anything. I just told the truth. THE TRUTH. People had been worried about me because I had been really “off” that week. That, and I cannot sit while lies are spread about my friends. A few others stepped forward to tell their truths about her and other online trainers- how this sort of thing had happened to them.
I found out someone was screenshotting and sending the trainer everything that I was saying on my personal wall as all of this was unfolding. You know, as I found my courage and my voice in all of this to speak up about the severity of this situation. So… after everything that I had been through- after she ran and hid- she still had this presence in the mess she had left behind. I laughed when I found this out.
I still have a hard time understanding why the person from her “tribe” who was sending her that information thought that was necessary. Perhaps to win an extra level of “loyalty” with this trainer? Because that’s all that matters, right? I mean, if my truth telling is more concerning than the text message she sent to a group of women, then I guess I just can only hope that same person never falls victim to this sort of thing. Because in the end, we’re all just a number- a dollar sign to her. I hope that somehow they never have to feel the depths of disgust and betrayal that I have.
My therapist told me that this is the classic “mean girl- high school” pattern: she does something awful, she hides, and she makes herself the victim. As truthful as that all is, I just wanted justice in all of this. I deserved a personal phone call apology from her and her husband. I wanted her to show she was sorry enough to actually tell the truth of what happened. And she didn’t.
People told me to “send her love and kindness,” to “be the bigger person,” to “forgive her in your heart and move on.” And it all made me very angry at first, to be honest. It felt very dismissive. I wanted people to stand up and say THIS IS NOT OK and your feelings are 100% warranted and I will stand here in the darkness with you as you wade through this mess and what can I do to help. Whether you are 7, 10, 16, or 32… when you’ve been handed an already heavy sentence in the form of someone’s words, the last thing you’re thinking about is how to be stronger. You want someone to help carry you through it all and you want to know you can rely on their strength when your strength is not enough.
As I try to pick up the pieces, I’ve looked into other online places for fitness. To be completely honest, I don’t want the group thing in my life right now. I just don’t trust it, and I know a few of the other women who left this “tribe” that also feel the same. Isn’t that sad? We now have a hard time trusting this idea of a “tribe.” Trusting that a leader we are paying money to would have our best interest at heart.
In my business, I feel responsible for the people that I work with.
I take that responsibility seriously.
That is why I started my business.
I’ve learned just how awful some adults can be. I’ve learned how hard it is to be a fat adult both off and online, despite the fact that I’m authentically spreading the message about body acceptance. I’ve learned that the internet is an insane place and people truly are not who they say they are. Integrity and honest means nothing compared to protecting one’s business and reputation.
I assure you that living in a fat body is hard enough. I don’t need people to remind me that I’m an inconvenience to them- an intrusion on their space. I don’t need people to point out that my body changes, ESPECIALLY GROWN-ASS MEN. I don’t need to question that every person in my life is just a ticking time bomb- and soon enough they’ll make fun of me or leave me because my body has changed “for the worse” according to our fatphobic society.
We need to DO BETTER. We need to hold our friends accountable when they do something horrible. We need to hold our leaders accountable when they do something horrible. We need to hold our spouses accountable when they do something horrible. We need to hold our kids accountable when they do something horrible.
We have to stop hiding from these things or standing by silently. We have to call these people on the carpet. We have to speak up when we are treated unjustly and do what we can to protect others from that same thing. Whether it’s with an online trainer or at the doctor’s office, we owe it to our selves and the generations that follow to speak up.
Standing silently is not OK because it enables the behavior to continue. In this case, the mean girl from high school is now the mean girl online because there aren’t enough of us who’ve spoken up about the truth. She often speaks of “crazy women she’s worked with in the past” in both business and fitness. How much do you want to bet I’ve become (or will become) one of those stories for people to laugh at in years to come?
I am not crazy. I am a woman that she hurt immensely with her words and actions. And my story is valid and deserves to be heard by all who will listen.
There are so many hurting people in our world.
Don’t be one that does the hurting.
And don’t sit silently watching it happen.
Be an advocate for the idea that:
All bodies are good.
All bodies matter.
All bodies have a place.
Let’s do better. Deal?