By Kim Artlip, Columnist
Let’s be honest here. I feel comfortable enough with my column and myself to reveal a few truths about myself that people may not realize…
First, I’m a card carrying AARP member working in an industry full of 20-somes so yeah I look old as dirt next to these workers in photographs. Secondly, I’m overweight. Not just a couple of pounds, but to the point it’s affecting my already-damaged back not to mention my overall self-confidence. So that being said, I want to say that the past week’s debacle online over comments made about Peyton Royce had me offended. Not just for her, but for everyone who is held up to an unrealistic, or preconceived, idea of what an athlete and a woman should look.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then let me catch you up to speed. Peyton Royce, who wrestles for WWE with Billie Kay as a tag team called The IIconics, was alerted to comments that Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer had made a week earlier on a podcast, (and which were later tweeted by a fan).
Then, during an exchange between Meltzer and his podcast co-host and business partner Bryan Alvarez about the IIconics segment on last week’s SmackDown, this happened:
Meltzer: “The IIconics got ‘boring’-ed out. You know, they’re another one. I thought that they had a cool act in NXT and on the main roster I don’t get a thing out of them. I mean, I don’t think their promos are particularly good, their wrestling isn’t good. I think Peyton Royce’s transformation to look more attractive (Pauses). I don’t know, I don’t want to say.”
Alvarez: “She was more attractive in NXT?”
Meltzer: “I thought so yes. To me, yes. I would say so. That’s neither here or there.”
Alvarez: “No one’s saying she’s unattractive by the way, everybody.”
Meltzer: “I know, no shit. I didn’t say it at all. She doesn’t stand out to me, when she was in NXT she did. She was a lot lighter.”
Naturally the Twitter-verse imploded and Royce was understandably upset and responded – So what would you have me do Dave… starve myself? This is how nightmares for young women start. The females in your life must be proud.
Honestly I don’t really know what or why Dave Meltzer felt the need to make the comment but seriously, does he really not understand how difficult it must be to be in a career where there is so much riding on your health, looks and athleticism. I have mad respect for the women I know in the sport and the effort that they put in to be strong and healthy in ring. But really? You had to fat shame her? Really?
In his apologies, the comment he made was taken out of context and he was referring to her recent breast augmentation but then again why does it need to be said one way or another? What Peyton Royce does to feel better about herself is her decision and women have enough judgement from society without being dissected on podcasts. And to be honest, it’s not just the women with the comments being made about because look at the Big Show. He was sent down off the main roster and didn’t return until he slimmed down and underwent a body transformation. And it wasn’t six months ago that Nia Jax was shamed in a storyline. We see it everywhere in wrestling.
We are all guilty of it. You can’t tell me that you haven’t looked a performer and thought they didn’t look like an athlete, appeared overweight, was lacking muscle or simply looked weak. We all have done it. It’s probably far more prevalent in the indies with the stigma of “yarders.” Yes, I know that’s not a polite term but sadly many people erroneously believe that indies are chock full of guys who haven’t been to a gym, are out of shape and poorly trained. So when they see someone who is ripped and looking fierce you hear that tone of surprise. I hear it all the time and it makes me angry. Because we are judging on body image.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we lived in a world where people weren’t superficially judged on appearances but were rated and ranked by their skill set and abilities? So welcome to my dream world, where I don’t get the person who asks in a snarky tone, “You aren’t a wrestler, are you?” which I jokingly say, “no I just run the company, you won’t be seeing me in spandex” but you know what? It hurts. I know I’m not an athlete anymore. I’m struggling with my weight and getting it rubbed in my face hurts so I have empathy for all the others being judged harshly.
I’m not writing all this for pity or anything like that whatsoever but I’m simply voicing my thoughts of how careless comments or comments taken out of context hurt. They hurt deeply and we all need to censor what we say and post. If we take the time to stop, think and act then we can make social media and our relationships into a kinder gentler place to be. So until then, ignite your fire and follow your dreams.
Owner + Promoter