A body-image coach who was slammed for having cellulite is addressing her critic’s “ignorant” comments.
On Monday, Jessi Kneeland, a fitness trainer and motivational speaker in upstate New York, posted an impromptu photo of herself stretching at the gym. “Oh hey there, have you met my fancy fat? It’s these pretty dimples along the back of my legs and butt,” she wrote. “Some people think fancy fat is ‘bad,’ and will try to convince you to get rid of yours, but we know better. Fancy fat is just a natural, healthy, built-in decoration. (Or at least that’s how I choose to see it.)”
She added, “There is absolutely nothing objectively true about statements like ‘cellulite is ugly’ or ‘perfectly smooth and toned is more attractive.’ Those are just examples of a social reality we pass along to each other so often that our brains start to believe they must be true, they’re ‘natural,’ or they’re ‘just the way things are.’ But they’re not. We can change the way we see things by interrupting those old thoughts, challenging and examining them, noticing how they affect us, changing what we expose ourselves to, and finding new beliefs that affect us in a more positive way.”
Kneeland’s followers appreciated the 30-year-old’s candor. However, one man felt differently. “Spin it anyway u want, having unhealthy body fat like that is not natural; it’s because u eat or used to eat s****y food and ur body has stored it!” he wrote. “Stop eating s*** food and burn more calories that u put in ur face and it will go!”
The trainer responded to the man by explaining that she’s always had cellulite regardless of the number on the scale, and that her dimples were “perfectly fine and normal and healthy.”
On Tuesday, she followed up with another photo — this time wearing underwear and a sports bra, with the man’s comment pasted below. “This comment was left by a hater, on the cellulite photo I posted yesterday…” Kneeland captioned the image. “Me and my ‘unnatural, unhealthy body fat’” are just gonna be over here helping women understand that there is NOTHING wrong with cellulite (or anything else about their bodies!) and that trolls like you are ignorant and uneducated.”
Kneeland’s followers rushed to her defense, brushing off the “mansplaining” and proclaiming love for their own cellulite.
“The day I took the first photo, I was at the gym and the lighting and my body position accentuated my cellulite. I thought, ‘Aw, how cute.’ It was a delightful moment that I wanted to share,” Kneeland tells Yahoo Beauty.
As a personal trainer, Kneeland worked with Victoria’s Secret models who had cellulite and were always unhappy with certain body parts. That experience gave Kneeland an epiphany: “Poor body image isn’t about the physical,” she says. “If it were, these models would be the most confident women in the world.”
Kneeland lost motivation to change people’s bodies and instead focused on changing their mind-set. “I became a body-image coach, and I teach women how to overcome the issues that cause body shame,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “It usually boils down to women feeling unsafe in their bodies or not feeling worthy because they can’t maintain a standard of perfection.”
Women are often given two choices, she says: “Love your curves, or buy into the weight-loss B.S.,” Kneeland says. “There needs to be another way to have a relationship with our bodies.”
As for that cellulite that’s not vanishing anytime soon: “Why demonize something just because someone else thinks it’s ugly?”
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