Team USA Olympian Amanda Bingson Helps Ban the F Word : Fat-shaming
by James Zervios, OAC Vice President of Marketing and Communications
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As Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the OAC, I often have the pleasure of meeting incredible and inspirational people from all over the country. This past month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Olympian Amanda Bingson (pictured left), as she helps the OAC Ban the F Word!
For those of you who are not familiar with Amanda, she is an Olympic Hammer Thrower and was recently catapulted into the light of the media when she was featured in the 2015 Body issue of ESPN Magazine. It was truly a pleasure speaking with Amanda.
Amanda, good morning, please tell the readers a little more about yourself.
Sure! My name is Amanda Bingson, I was born in Victorville, Calif., and my family moved to Las Vegas in 1995. I then moved to Texas to work more with my track and field coach.
How did you get involved in hammer throwing?
In high school, my friend got me involved. I just went out and tried track and field. The first day I really wasn’t sure if I liked it. At the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, my coach pushed for me to do hammer throwing. I found that I liked it a lot and stuck with it. I competed in the 2012 Olympics and am hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympics.
What has life been like as you’ve recently received a lot of media attention following the ESPN body issue?
It’s been insane. You don’t become a track athlete to be famous in America. I’ve gotten a lot of marriage proposals.
How does weight bias impact you?
In high school, my weight did not allow me to be on varsity volleyball. I ended up quitting because I felt it was unfair. I think weight bias is very obvious. Nobody tries to hide it. Fat-shaming is rampant, and it’s very sad.
What would you say to someone who’s been a victim of weight bias?
I would tell them to change things. Get rid of the people in your life who are targeting you for weight bias. Who is anyone to tell someone to feel bad about themselves?
Why do you think weight bias is so damaging for a child?
It’s sad that kids in elementary school are worried about how they look in a pair of pants. Children should worry about being children. They should be worried about what they’re doing after school and not how they look. Some of these kids haven’t even gone through puberty. Look to your parents for support. My parents supported me in teaching me how to care about myself. You’re worth more than what the scale says!
How have sports helped you with weight bias?
I think it all depends on the sport. In my sport, people are very diverse. We don’t focus on their bodies. We focus on their performance. Natural size can bring natural power. I’ve always used my size to my advantage.
Do you think female athletes face more weight bias than males, and if so, why?
In America, we’re so progressive on so many things (religion, etc.) but yet, we’re still fighting body image. There is a social ideal of how a woman should look. It’s sad that we dictate our femininity by what we do for our occupation or how we look.
What drew your interest to the Ban the F Word Campaign?
It’s archaic that we cannot get over the fact that we all don’t have the same body type. People can make a change for their health. Adults can get stuck in a rut, but you can make changes. For someone who is going through that change, confidence is slowly taught. Nobody develops confidence in an instant. You are not doing it alone. There are so many people that you can talk to and work with. There is support out there.
What would you tell other athletes who might want to do something about stopping weight bias?
Learn about it. I would tell them to read the OAC’s Web site. You all are doing phenomenal work. I would also tell them to talk about it. Nobody wants to talk about anything. Speak up, stand up. You’re the only person that can determine what you are.
Anything you want to do, you can do.
To follow Amanda on her road to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, please visit:
About the Author:
James Zervios is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Obesity Action Coalition. He has worked for the OAC for more than a decade and is the staff liaison for the OAC Weight Bias and Education Committees.