"I'm black, I'm plus-size, and I'm a woman — that's a triple negative in fitness."
Roslyn Mays is a professional pole dance instructor and self-described badass boss on stage.
Mays, who goes by the nickname Roz the Diva, is a 31-year-old woman from Long Island, N.Y. She was discovered on social media and was invited to audition for this season of "America's Got Talent."
On stage, in front of the "AGT" judges, Roz performed a 90-second pole dancing routine, only to be left insulted.
In a recent video interview with Ruptly, Roz said it was judge Howard Stern who was her harshest critic, asking her, essentially, to defend her existence based on her physical appearance. Howard's main critique? Roz said that even after watching her perform, he said he felt that Roz was too fat to be a pole dancer.
And unfortunately, Roz's performance never made it to air, outside of a one-second clip in a promo montage. Which means we don't know for sure what Howard said to her, but it clearly made an impression.
As a plus-size athlete, Roz is used to harsh reactions from people like Howard. But she won't take it lying down.
“I'm black, I'm plus-size, and I'm a woman — that's a triple negative in fitness: I'm the antichrist," she told The Guardian, joking, "I'm just missing being a lesbian Muslim and then everyone can hate me."
She's pushing back on the misconceptions people have about plus-size people — namely, that they're out of shape.
She may weigh 228 pounds, but that doesn't mean Roz is out of shape. In fact, I'm sure she's in significantly better shape than a lot of other people can claim to be. A number on a scale is not the end-all be-all of health — not by a long shot.
Being overweight is not the same as being unhealthy. Look at the moves Roz can do on the pole:
Think about the upper (and lower, for that matter) body strength that goes into being able to lift yourself, climb, and do the moves she does:
"America's gonna die tomorrow because we're all obese," Roz says, listing the criticisms she hears most often due to her body. Or that "people who are carrying extra weight, they're lazy, they're fat, they don't care."
And to them, she has this to say:
There's nothing inherently unhealthy about being larger than stereotypical beauty norms, and science backs that up.
A 2014 report put out by the College of Family Physicians of Canada broke down seven myths about obesity related to cause and its effect on health.
For example, losing weight does not mean gaining health. "Obesity management should focus on promoting healthier behavior rather than simply reducing numbers on the scale," the report says. Being healthy is all about engaging in behavior that is healthy for your body, regardless of its size or weight.
And Redefining Body Image has its own list of myth-busting links that take on the "fat means not fit" messaging, if you're interested in further reading.