Written by Ann BrennanI read a lot. I also run a lot. And, inevitably, I often find myself combining the two activities. While I run I think over the articles and books I have recently read. I analyze them or I let their messages sink in. And once in a while I have an “aha” moment. Unfortunately, last Thursday I had an “uh-oh” moment. A moment of clarity when it suddenly occurred to me that I might just be the “fat girl” from Hey, Fat Girl. And suddenly, I wanted to cry. Because no matter how fit I am. No matter how hard I work or how much I succeed. It will always hurt to hear, Hey, Fat Girl.
I am sure when Flint wrote Hey Fat Girl a year ago, it was meant as a compliment. I am sure it was not mean to be patronized or insensitive. But I want to weigh in.
I am short, I have wide hips and a big butt and I don not carry any of it well. For most of my running life I have been subjected to comments like, “Good for you, giving this a go.” “Well done for being out here.” “Are you still running?” And whether they are meant this way or not they come off as patronizing.
What was that thing your mom used to say? Don’t judge a book by the cover?
Well I am here to say she was right.
I am short, I have wide hips and a big butt and again, I do not carry it well. But I am also a 13-time marathon finisher and a sub-14 hour Ironman, yes, Ironman finisher. I workout six to seven days a week and have for more than twenty years.
I may not look like a runner but I am. And I am not embarrassed to be out there in triathlon shorts because although I know that I don’t look great in them, they are part of the sport I love.
When I don’t make eye contact with you, it doesn’t mean I am embarrassed my how I look. I may be counting laps, I may be thinking about my next hard effort or I may be analyzing a blog post. Who knows? The assumption that I am embarrassed also assumes that I have something to be embarrassed about. That assumption hurts.
So I might be the fat girl. But that does not mean I am not athletic. That does not mean I don’t believe I can do anything. Because I can and have done more than I ever dreamed.
Yes, I struggle with my weight and yes, I work to lose it but I almost always find myself back here, in the fat suit, wishing I was thinner, wishing people could see me for the athlete that I am.
As all of this digested I thought about the other “fat girls” our there and I wondered how each of them, at the stage they are currently in, felt about the post by Flint. How does it make you feel to be referred to as “fat girl” even when it is somebody well meaning?