A blogger in the U.K. is trying to dispel the idea that fat women can't run, offering herself up as an example of someone who runs marathons even while technically overweight.
The story comes via HelloGiggles. After years of struggling to get fit, Julie Creffield signed up for the 2012 London marathon and really buckled down to train. The experience inspired such a passion that she launched a blog encouraging other plus-size runners. Because she loved the training, the sense of accomplishment and the impact on her health—but it required dealing with crap like this:
"I agreed to take part in a fun run, and about 30 seconds in I thought I was going to die. And as I kind of plodded around, huffing and puffing, some little kid said, 'Oi! Fatty! Run!'"
Gradually the blog has grown into a side business selling running gear and even coaching women who're trying to get started. Now she's just launched The Fat Girl's Guide to Running, which rounds up her advice for beginners into a single site.
"Two thirds of the UK population are overweight or obese and the media takes great pleasure in scare-mongering us into doing something about it with magazines promoting the next big faddy diet and government agencies telling everyone to ditch the car and cycle to work," she explained the project to the Newham Recorder.
"What we need are practical solutions where women feel empowered to be more active and where exercise is seen as something enjoyable and fun rather than a chore and something we must do."
It's easier to pitch something as a nice, refreshing salad than a sad, flavorless bran muffin, in other words.
But after years of training, she still faces skepticism. She recently wrote for the Huffington Post about a visit to the doctor. She'd pulled a muscle, but he basically told her she was too fat to run. Now, medical pros generally advise working your way up to really intense exercise if you're heavier, but Creffield wasn't exactly a newbie. It's a handy illustration of how even somebody well-meaning can derail exercisers.
There are limits to Creffield's example—at a UK size 18, she probably doesn't face any major mobility issues. And if your well-informed, longtime doctor expresses concerns about your immediate readiness for something as extreme marathon, it's best to listen. Also, personally, this fatty prefers the stationary bike. (Less bouncing.) But her point stands—don't let stereotypes and shitty comments from the sidelines discourage you from taking up an activity many find really rewarding.