Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy knows a thing or two about fat shaming. While women are usually the targets of such criticism, the NFLer is no stranger to such torment. Now, he’s bravely detailing his struggle with online bullies who seem to take pride in pointing out his weight woes.
“I could pull up my Twitter right now and there would be a fat comment in there somewhere,” he told ESPN: The Magazine for its Oct. 2 issue. “Like I could tweet, ‘Today is a beautiful day!’ and someone would be like, ‘Oh yeah? You fat.’ I sit there and wonder: ‘What do you get out of that?'”
Lacy has publicly struggled with his weight for his entire NFL career. He suffered online torment while with the Green Bay Packers — especially when his coach criticized his weight during a 2016 press conference.
“He’s got a lot of work to do,” Mike McCarthy said when Lacy wasn’t running the combined 2,317 yards of his first two seasons. “His offseason last year was not good enough, and he never recovered from it. He cannot play at the weight he played at this year.”
When Lacy left the team following ankle injuries that set him back in his weight loss journey, his battle ultimately became even more public. He agreed to periodic weigh-ins as part of his Seahawks contract, where he could earn $55,000 every time he reached a weight goal. And the agency tweeted his numbers for the world to see.
“I hate that it has to be public,” Lacy said. “Because it’s like if you don’t make it, what happens? Clearly, you don’t get the money, but whatever. I don’t really care about that. It’s just more the negative things that are going to come.”
Fat Shaming Is Ongoing
Even when he slimmed down during his time with the Packers, cyber bullies couldn’t help but poke fun at Lacy. They photoshopped his image to make him appear like he had Santa Claus’s body. Someone also dug up college tweets about Lacy’s affinity for “China food” and created a viral collage.
“People are always tweeting at me stuff like: ‘I’m about to go get China food, shout out to Eddie,'” Lacy said. “Or, ‘Hey, Eddie, this China food is why you weigh 260 pounds.’ You want to say, ‘Dawg, that was five years ago. How is something that happened [then] still relevant?’ But nobody cares. The negativity is always there, whether you’re doing good or you’re going through a funk.”
Another star who knows the brutality body shaming memes can bring is former “Prison Break” actor Wentworth Miller. When the series ended in 2009, the star gained weight after turning to food to cope with depression. A Facebook user turned his struggle into a meme juxtaposing him with his fit physique against his heavier self.
“Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme,” Miller wrote on his Facebook page last year according to Entertainment Weekly. “I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights. In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to.”
That male stars feel confident enough to go public with their weight struggles is telling. A 2014 study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed almost 18 percent of teen boys feel pressure about their weight. Boys with such concerns have an increased likelihood of suffering from depression and to engage in unhealthy behaviors, like drug use, to cope.