Mexican humor can be extremely dark and edgy. We laugh at some of the worst tragedies, perhaps as a coping mechanism. But our brand of humor turned into something gross when some people took to social media to body-shame 22-year-old Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno.
The incident is now elevating the conversation around how athletes are treated by the public while shedding light on other issues like sexism and discrimination.
Moreno, who competed this week at the Rio Olympics and ended up in 31st place, was viciously attacked on Twitter by several trolls:
“Exclusive images of Alexa Moreno upon finishing her gymnastic routine.”
“Alexa Moreno has the body of two gymnasts, she should have been on a diet before attending the Olympics.”
“My dream is to win one of those hot dog-eating contests. — Alexa Moreno”
But social media struck back, drowning the insults out and even forcing some of the trolls off Twitter. We took screenshots because many of the comments were deleted.
"All those criticizing Alexa Moreno for her weight need to see this video from the 2016 Gymnastics World Cup.
“The good thing is that Alexa Moreno is a badass, surely the criticism about her physique is not the worst thing she has had to overcome.”
“It must be so easy criticizing Alexa Moreno behind a screen, you all deserve a gold medal for being idiots.”
“Congratulations Alexa Moreno for your great participation in the Olympics. One more reason to feel proud in spite of the criticism.”
“I’m your fan Alexa Moreno. Keep improving and showing off your talent.”
There have been several incidents of Olympic athletes getting shamed on social media and quite frankly having to put up with all sorts of shit. The problem is not exclusively a Mexican one.
Athletes have also been targeted because of their race.
During the London 2012 Olympics, some Brazilians reportedly took to social media to attack Brazilian Judo athlete Rafaela Silva. They called her “monkey” and bombarded her with racial slurs on Twitter.
Now Silva has become a national hero after taking the first gold medal for her country at the Rio Olympics.
With these challenging episodes behind them, Moreno and Silva have become powerful role models, showing that the best way to dismiss trolls is to keep focus, keep training, and with a little luck keep winning.