Shreveport fitness trainer fires back after body image cyberbull - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Shreveport fitness trainer fires back after body image cyberbullying

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Local fitness trainer, competitor Heather Binyon (Source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News) Local fitness trainer, competitor Heather Binyon (Source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News)
(Source: Heather Binyon Facebook) (Source: Heather Binyon Facebook)
(Source: Heather Binyon Facebook) (Source: Heather Binyon Facebook)
Fitness trainer Heather Binyon before competition (Source: Heather Binyon Facebook) Fitness trainer Heather Binyon before competition (Source: Heather Binyon Facebook)

"What I see, at least, with my clients is a lot of, 'how I used to feel,' 'how I used to look,' 'what I used to could do.'"

Shreveport personal trainer, Heather Binyon, sees first-hand every day the pressure women put on themselves to meet an often self-imposed expectation.

"Everyone has insecurities. Everyone is comparing themselves to something or someone, or even to their past," she says.

Binyon also pushes her own body to reach heights of physical fitness, in order to compete in the National Physique Committee bikini competitions.

"When you compete, you have to spend all of your time planning around that everyday."

A posting of herself on Facebook, right before a competition in New York recently, was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

But not everyone liked what they saw.

A woman, who - admittedly - doesn't know Binyon, shared the photo on her own page, and made the comment that "if this is what young women are striving to look like and judges are voting on... sad."

"People harm themselves over messages like this, that they let it get to them," says Binyon of cyberbullying.

And it didn't stop there.

Several other people commented - "nasty", "not appealing at all", "disgusting", "likely very unhealthy.. with an eating disorder."

That was the last straw for Binyon.

"Women are already so ridiculed, and I just feel like, why aren't we uplifting each other and helping each other instead of putting each other down?"

Binyon didn't take the cyber attack lightly, and fired back on social media with a response of her own.

She writes on her Facebook page - in part - "I am very healthy. I eat carbs and fats. I don't starve. Muscle isn't built without food."

She goes on to say that "any adult who would go out of their way to visit my page just to be offensive to a stranger is saddening."

"The large amount of support that I received was a blanket statement saying, we're not going to put with people bashing strangers," she tells KTBS 3 News.

The negative effects of cyberbullying can be swift and long-lasting. Mental health experts at the Center for Families in Shreveport suggest putting yourself in someone else's shoes, because the damage is often just one click away.

"That's definitely very scary. It can reach you when you're alone. You don't have to be alone or at a certain place. Like you said, it's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," explains Britni Russell, a Licensed Professional Counselor.

She says if cyberbullying is allowed to escalate - especially in adolescents - the psychological and emotional damage can be severe.

"It can cause a person to feel isolated, it can cause them to withdraw, feel depressed. With kids, you might see a drop in grades and overall, their health may decline."

Instead of deleting immediately, Russell suggests notating any cyberbullying, in case law enforcement intervention is required.

"It's also good to take a record of messages or pictures or instances of [cyber]bullying, and record the time and date that it happened."

Despite the personal attack on her appearance, Binyon considers this an opportunity to remind women - not just her clients - that body image is a state of mind.

"I try to express to them that it helps them be a better family member, a better wife and a better mother, because they're healthier, they're happier, they have more energy."

It should be noted that the woman who shared the original photo on Facebook did reach out to Binyon later through a private message to apologize, but Binyon stresses the importance of thinking twice before you click.

"I'm secure enough in myself and my appearance that I can stand up for what I feel is right. But others may not be so strong, and that's what's so dangerous."

Cyberbullying is being taken much more seriously now than in previous years.

It's illegal in Louisiana to maliciously "abuse, torment, or intimidate" anyone electronically who is under the age of eighteen.

Parents can have a vital impact on preventing, identifying, and stopping cyberbullying with their kids.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, parents should keep their home computer in a busy area of their house.

Also, set up email and chat accounts with your children. Make sure that you know their screen names and passwords, and that they don't include any personal information in their online profiles.

And discuss cyberbullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.

For more information about how to prevent and react to cyberbullying, click here.

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