Scott Campbell wanted the sign outside his Pell City Fitness center in Alabama to be an attention-grabber. Soon, the eyes of a nation would be on his slogan, “Tired at being fat and ugly? Just be ugly!”
“We can help fat, but we can’t fix ugly,” a smiling Campbell told WVTM-TV, an NBC affiliate in nearby Birmingham. “People had a hard time finding us. I wanted something that was kind of catchy, that would catch people’s attention.”
The sign — which also promotes the gym’s Crossfit, boot camp and personal training offerings, as well as its nutrition advice and meal plans, with memberships starting at $125 a month — reportedly offended residents. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that one Facebook commenter stated, “The sign should be taken down. Think about it, some [people] are already struggling being bullied and my opinion is that the sign is making it harder on [people] being bullied already. I’m not fat nor am I ugly.”
That said, comments on the club’s Facebook page were overwhelmingly pro-sign, and Campbell claims he received supportive calls from outside the state.
Pell City officials warned Campbell last week that the sign had been put up without a permit, and that it had to come down or Campbell would be fined. A GoFundMe page had even raised $245 toward a $1,000 goal to help cover a fine. However, the Post reported that Campbell filed the permit paperwork Monday and that no fine had been issued. “The owner is aware of his failure to properly request a permit and has since filed a request,” city manager Brian Muenger said, adding that “the city does not object to the content of the sign.”
Campbell, who according to Inc.com weighed 300 pounds before committing to his own fitness, had erected signs outside his facility before without permit and without any problems with the city. The New York Daily News quoted Campbell as saying he had a hard time believing the city's pressure wasn't slogan-related. “We cut up. We have fun. We poke fun at each other,” he told WVTM. “At the end of the day, we’re all here to support each other, to help each other in our fitness journeys.”