“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” ~Daniel H. Pink
Poor Adam Richman. I really feel for the guy lately. I mean, all he tried to do was to get a little love and send out a little inspiration. But one wrong hashtag, and suddenly he’s attacked by a whole bunch of haters.
So what did he do to deserve this huge backlash of criticism? Well, he posted something “inappropriate” on Instagram, his critics say.
But I call bullshit on these critics. And here’s why.
If you’re breathing, you’ve probably heard by now that the Travel Channel star, who hosted the hit show Man Vs. Food, is in in PR hell after he recently offended a whole bunch of folks–mainly those who are or have previously been suffering with an eating disorder, and anyone who loves/likes/knows one of those people.
After he proudly posted on Instagram that a new suit would need taking in, he added the hashtag #thinspiration, which is widely used among those in the Pro-Ana (pro-anorexic) community online and generally indicates someone who is celebrating or working toward excessive, unhealthy weight loss.
“Had ordered this suit from a Saville Row tailor over a year ago. Think I’m gonna need to take it in a little,” the Instagram post read, with the #thinspiration hashtag tacked on the end. (Though, to be fair, he also tacked on the hashtags #Victory, #EyesOnThePrize, #AnythingIsPossible, #fitness and #transformation.)
After he was widely criticized by both the fat-acceptance (FA) and those recovering from various eating disorders for using the hashtag so carelessly, Richman fired back, refusing to apologize for using it.
One critic posted that the hashtag and in fact the whole post “glorifies negative media self-imagery that being thin is better as opposed to any other body style,” to which Richman replied, “”DILLIGAF”, which means “Does it look like I give a fuck,” the Guardian reported.
“Oh eat a bag of shit, dummy,” Richman posted in response to another critic, Amber Sarah, who blogged about her experience at XO Jane. “No apology is coming. If it inspires someone to attain a healthy thinner body then that was what it was meant to do. Only fuckup it seems was your dad’s choice to go without a condom.”
To another, he suggested they “grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you.”
“…we’ve all used words by mistake, we’ve all stumbled and said something offensive and didn’t realize it,” Sarah wrote. “It happens to the best of us, and it’s totally understandable. But when you’re called out for saying something that does active harm, especially if you’re somewhat of a public figure, you listen, you apologize, and you don’t do it again.”So, why would Richman go so far as to directly insult people in such a rude manner? Is he crazy? Or maybe just hangry (hungry + angry)?
Why Adam Richman Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt
Look, as someone who has achieved a similar weight loss (and without surgery, TYVM), I feel this guy a little bit. He was just celebrating his success and hoping to get a little support in doing so.
“I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt,” he told ABC News.
I can identify with this feeling–it’s hard to deal with being overweight and when you finally manage to get to a healthy or almost healthy point, it feels amazing and you wanna show it off to the world.
And when someone tries to criticize you (especially someone who has issues with your weight loss for whatever reason), it can feel like a very personal attack.
My guess is that his use of the term “thinspiration” was not in any way connected to eating disorders in his mind, and that he was completely shocked by the backlash he received over a simple Instagram post that was not, in any way, meant to hurt anyone.
In fact, he probably thought he was helping to inspire someone who might want to achieve similar results.
Five Reasons We Need to Give Adam Richman a Break On This One
1. He’s a dude, and he probably never even heard the term “pro-ana.” Adam Richman is a man, and most people who are all involved in these pro-ana communities are women. It is entirely possible that he really just wanted to help “thinspire” others in a helpful and positive way. Regardless of what the tag means to some people, clearly Richman is not attempting to promote an UNHEALTHY lifesthyle. Duh.
2. He lost 70+ pounds, for real. Losing weight is HARD, especially when you do it “the old fashioned way,” but even when you don’t. He deserves congrats, not criticism.
3. He’s just human, like you and me. Reacting irrationally is a fairly human trait, even in social media. Richman isn’t unusual–he’s just one of us. What he’s most guilty of here, in my opinion, is that he reacted before he thought about it. Who of us hasn’t anger-posted to some social network (and in some of our cases, very quickly deleted it)? The only reason he’s being attacked is that he’s a celeb. If I posted the same thing, you probably wouldn’t even notice.
4. He was being attacked on a broad spectrum for a genuinely innocent mistake. While his responses t0 these comments were childish and inappropriate, can you honestly say that you wouldn’t at least consider posting very direct and someone inflammatory comments when you’re being personally and aggressively attacked for what you thought was an innocent post on a social media site?
5. He’s in enough hot water already, probably. He might end up losing his show over a little social media drama (last I checked, it had been ‘postponed until further notice’). Or maybe they’ll just go with it and he’ll end up more famous than ever, right before they put him on a new show (which, for the record, could be entitled “#Thinspiration: Taking Back the Word,” or something equally attention-grabbing).
So, where do you stand on this issue? Would you send Adam Rich up the river for this little slip-up, or would you give the guy a break and congratulate him on his hard work getting healthier? How did this situation make YOU feel? Share your thoughts, feelings and experiences here or in your favorite social media network and let me know what you think!
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Man v. FoodWikipedia: Man v. Food is an American food reality television series. It premiered on December 3, 2008 on the Travel Channel. The program is hosted by actor and food enthusiast Adam Richman. In each episode, Richman explores the “big food” offerings of a different American city before facing off against a pre-existing eating challenge at a local restaurant. The program airs in syndication at various times during the week. →