Not your inspiration

Today’s scheduled run was a 1.5 mile recovery run, a nice and slow plod on the treadmill. My calves are starting to give me a little grief; they’re awfully tight lately. After that 1.5 miles, I walked a few minutes and then ran again, 40 minutes overall, just about 3 miles total. It might be time to start getting serious with Ye Olde Foame Rollere.

A friend of mine on Tumblr told a story yesterday; she was at the gym doing her fat lady at the gym business and some dude came up to her and told her she was "such an inspiration". Bless her, she kept her composure and asked him, "Oh, why is that?" and watched him scramble and fail to come up with an answer that wasn’t ‘because you’re fat’. And then she left the gym and cried for a while in her car.

Let me say this loud enough so the lurkers and the people in the back can hear: Fat people exercising is not inspiration. The same is true of people with disabilities or chronic illness who exercise. "What’s your excuse?" memes are shitty and objectify people who are just trying to get their movement on.

From my vantage point as someone who has been the object of these kind of comments and behaviors many times, people have a bunch of different motivations and none are very nice…

First, the most direct and hurtful: I am your inspiration because you don’t want your body to look like mine. This is 100% fat hatred. These are the people who park at the treadmill next to me and keep looking over at me and turning the speed up. Don’t think I don’t see you. My body is just as valid as yours.

Second, the people who assume they know why you are at the gym: I am your inspiration because I am working hard to lose weight. Have you asked me what my goals are? Try doing that before you decide to use me as motivation. I exercise because it’s fun and I want to run a million miles and bench press bears, not because I’m trying to get skinny.

Third, the most passive-aggressive style: I am your inspiration because you’ve never seen someone who looks like me do what I’m doing, wow! These folks just need to get out more, eh?

Anyone else got any "inspiration" styles to share? These people drive me nuts!

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About G

I'm running while fat. And learning other fun ways to honor my body.
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3 Responses to Not your inspiration

  1. I 100% see where you’re coming from this. It’s not exactly the same, but when I was severely underweight (had an eating disorder) I remember hating that it was SO FREAKIN OBVIOUS to everyone what state I was in. Like, when you’re depressed, you can hide it if you want to, but when your body becomes involved, it’s so obvious and everyone’s well-meaning comments just make you want to hide away. It feels really intrusive. Opposite end of the spectrum I guess, but I remember trying to drill into people (family, especially) that it’s not OK to police another person’s body in any way, even if its coming from a good place. Sorry, rambly comment!

  2. Gingerzingi says:

    Since I don’t work out at a gym, I don’t get a lot of that. But in a related phenomenon, when I tell someone that I lift weights (or do kettlebells or run or whatever) they always assume I’m a beginner and are frequently patronizing. So there’s that.

    There’s something I tend to do, which is that when I’m hiking or walking, and encounter a fat lady running, I tend to give her a huge smile. Because I realize that it might be extremely difficult for her to get the courage to exercise in public; because running is freaking HARD and it’s way harder for fat people; because that’s an awesome running outfit, whereas I run in the worst collection of rags in my closet; and because we are bad ass fat ladies together and I’m expressing solidarity. I know that the runner might not be feeling any of those things at all—if she is, then Yay Sisterhood, and if she’s not, then Hey have a nice day.

  3. Pingback: 2016 in review | Running While Fat

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