Queensland mum accuses gym of bullying 'fat and ugly' people in promo sign

Melissa Buttigieg
News Reporter

A Queensland mum has accused a gym of bullying over a billboard placed outside.

Debbie Peut said she felt “absolute horror” when she passed the sign at Anytime Fitness Kawana on the Sunshine Coast last week which read: “Are you fat and ugly? Just be ugly.”

She said “fat” was just a word to describe somebody’s shape, and shouldn’t be used as a derogatory term to body-shame someone.

Likewise, “ugly” should never determine a person’s appearance, only their behaviour, Ms Peut told Yahoo News Australia on Saturday.

This sign outside Anytime Fitness gym in Kawana on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, is causing a stir over its body-shaming message. Source: Debbie Peut

The 58-year-old said the billboard was “very concerning” because sending a message that “fat” or “ugly” is unattractive was dangerous to vulnerable people.

“It’s just insulting... You can be healthy at any size,” Ms Peut said.

“Why do they have to be so goddamn horrible to get memberships?”

Gym asks ‘Did we go too far?’

Following the backlash, Anytime Fitness Kawana shared a clip to its social media channels of a Today Show debate on the topic, asking "Did we go too far?"

While a majority of members said the sign was all in good fun, mirroring similar signs making waves internationally, some thought the move was in poor taste.

Many praised the gym, calling the marketing tactic “brilliant” and said it was done with “great Aussie humour”.

“I thought it was really funny and people need to understand how jokes work,” one wrote on Instagram.

However others weren’t so pleased.

“And what if this was the last thing a person read before taking their life... it's not about being offended, it's unnecessary in the big picture to make such comments in a public place,” one person commented on Facebook.

“You don’t understand the damage that can be caused by calling someone ugly regarding their appearance of features that can’t just be changed by going to a gym,” someone commented.

Another added; “telling people they're fat and ugly helps no one, especially folks like myself who've had that bashed into their heads all their lives.”

Anytime Fitness Kawana has been contacted for comment.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, download the Yahoo News app from iTunes or Google Play and stay up to date with the latest news with Yahoo’s daily newsletter. Sign up here.