She “broke the climbing internet”, one online columnist wrote.
Sasha DiGiulian made waves with one single Instagram post.
First, the backstory.
DiGiulian had just returned home from Europe. She was supposed to be on a climbing trip there. But she got a call from her mother telling her grandma was in the hospital. She likely wasn’t going to make it.
“I was in a dark place,” DiGiulian said. Then, she opened up her social media.
Friends sent her a screenshot of a post from a fellow professional climber’s parody Instagram page. It poked fun at DiGiulian, fat-shaming her.
The climber, Joe Kinder, had poked fun at her in the past, she said. She approached him personally and asked him to stop. It was obvious with this post that he hadn’t gotten the message, she said.
“The only way to stop behavior like this is to stand up to it,” she said. “I chose to share something that had been hurting me for some time.”
So, DiGiulian took that screenshot of the post, and created one of her own, exposing the hateful meme to her 369,000-plus followers.
As a community we need to uphold ourselves to higher standards than permitting defamatory, assaulting behavior. I use my social media platforms to share a window into my life- both professionally and personally, yet I also believe that this channel is a platform to have a voice and stand for what I believe in. This includes spreading more love and taking a stance against bullying. I am hurt and broken hearted to say that I am a victim of a bully and it has crossed the line. I write from the hospital, where I sit praying for the health of my family. I have received many messages about the ridicule that someone has made about me and my career. I have tried reaching out maturely, with no response. I find it incredibly sad that he has chosen this road. Perhaps because I am an independent female who has made a career out of my chosen path that irritates him? The second photo in this slide is one example of a reference he has made to me and Edu going to the Verdon, which I had to cancel due to my Grandma’s health. At the root of a lot of evil is insecurity. There is a line at which enough is enough, and I do not find it okay that a man can act like such a child, nor target women in such a vulgar way as he has done. I have chosen to write about this because while joking banter can be light and entertaining, this is not “light” content. This is malicious and ongoing. Behavior like this has dire consequences on the victim, including eating disorders, the perpetuation of gender inequality, and a misrepresentation of the pillars that I am proud that our community stands for. - Ultimately I want our community to be better, to respect people of all strengths, shapes and sizes for who they are. As athletes, lets use our platforms for good and work hard to push the limits of what us humans are capable of.
A post shared by S A S H A • D I G I U L I A N (@sashadigiulian) on
“People make mistakes but this was really hurtful,” she said. “I think change only happens in moments like this.”
Her post got 9,000-plus likes and hundreds of comments. Some of those comments were supportive, others were hurtful as well.
“I wanted to make an example that we don't have to just put up with things that are hurtful to us,” she said. “We have a right to stand up for ourselves.”
Since her post, the other climber has apologized twice. He also lost two key sponsorships.
I made a mistake. A mistake that has cost me my livelihood as a professional climber, and hurt the feelings of someone who I’ve known for more than 10 years. I blame no one but myself and I own my mistake. Climbing has been my family, my home, and my inspiration for more than 25 years. I’m going to do everything I can to earn back the respect and the trust of the tribe. I’ll need some time to work through all of this, but I’ll come through it a better person—because one of the lessons climbing has taught me over the years is to never give up. I have apologized for my mistake and learned a very hard lesson—about myself and about others. I’ve chosen not to respond to the mistruths or rebut the misrepresentations about my mistake that have been broadcast as fact, chosen not to share my version of what happened, because in the end there is no excuse, no defensible explanation for my mistake. There will always be a place in this world for humor, but not for humor that causes hurt. Hopefully we can all grow from this, can all learn to be better to each other, can all be more understanding. I know I will. To those of you that I hurt or disappointed, I am truly sorry. To those of you that have expressed compassion and understanding, thank you for the support. And now? Now, I’m moving forward, starting a new chapter in my life, humbled but not defeated.
A post shared by Joe Kinder (@joekinder) on
Now DiGiulian hopes this whole experience will help others.
“Some of the really strong messages that I received were from other parents or other women or men who said, ‘hey I was bullied too and I didn't want to put up with it’ or ‘I was hurt and thank you for giving me the strength to stand up for myself,’” she told Next.
But she says the most impactful part of this experience, was learning how many of her close friends had seen the nasty posts, but didn’t say anything to him.
“Why didn't you stand up for me? Why was this okay... why were you aware of this and let it go on?” she wondered.
“When we see behavior that we disagree with, we have a responsibility to stop it in the tracks too. If a friend of mine was experiencing this... I stand up for my friends,” she said.
That’s the message she’s hoping everyone takes away from this experience.
“I want people to know that you can stand up for people,” she said.
DiGiulian admits, if she hadn’t been in such a dark place at the time, she may not have made this so public. But in the end, she’s glad he did.