My body is conditioned to waking up at a certain hour regardless of what time I went to sleep at this point. Today officially marks four years of this fitness journey. On May 27, 2013, I didn't know what my intentions would be or what was my purpose in life. Here I stand, May 27, 2017, I still don't know my intentions of where I am going but I am much confident about my path. I woke up this morning with the intentions of going to the gym. Strangely enough, I picked out the same shorts that I wore a year ago today. I promise it wasn't intentional. All day, I had a host of things that prevented me from going to the gym. Some were distractions; others were priorities. When I finally had the opportunity, I went against one of my mentor's advice and read the comments from the Women's Running article on Facebook. Typically, articles that I'm featured in as of recent are laced with sprinkles of arsenic fat jokes but this was the first time I loved every comment on there. Sure, people didn't write these comments just to make me feel good. Hell, who knows if anyone even knew who the hell I was prior to the article but there was two comments that jumped out at me. In turn, I opted to keep my ass home and enjoy a rest day for a change.
Is the Conversation Deeper than Inclusion of Plus-Size Athletes?
In response to the inclusion of plus-size athletes in fitness being respected:
Same can go for thinner women. If I hear "eat a cheeseburger" in reference one more time, I'll scream. Leave people and their size alone. - Jacquie G.
I am sorry. Before this journey, I used to be one of those people who would heckle thinner women with terrible jokes, particularly comments at verbatim like "eat a cheeseburger." If it's anything that this journey has taught me is that size matters and it doesn't matter at all.
I've said it before on a previous blog post and I'll say it again: I'm exceptionally thankful for the conversation that body positivity and the visual presence of "plus-size athletes" in the media but it doesn't mean that it should exclude others from this dynamic.
When I lost the weight in 2014, I was reminded of how much ridicule that you get for being the "skinny bitch" on the track. I heard everything from "you looked better with weight" to all sorts of speculations about me being on drugs and look "sickly." People suggested that I should stop running because obviously I needed permission to "pick up the hot dogs again." These comments pierce the soul something deep at any size and while I don't engage in such shitty commentary these days, I must admit that I did in the past. For this, I apologize for shaming women like yourself just for being you. I think there's so many people out there who aren't happy with themselves on the inside that finding a community to belong to makes them feel safe for five minutes, even if it's at the expense of others.
"Plus-Sized", "Fat" & P/C Bullshit
Let's stop calling them 'plus-sized' for a start. - Pip D.
Baby, where was you in 2015 when all of the weight came back on? There's so much truth packed into such a short statement and then there's areas where I actually don't mind the politically correct bullshit.
You're right: Let's stop calling athletes like myself "plus-sized" and just call us what the hell we are: ATHLETES. You, my dear, get it. When people get over the shock and will either grow bored of seeing titles like "plus-sized" or "body positivity" plastered everywhere, this conversation might become a thing of the past. Hell, if this world is much more forgiving, fat athletes (and pardon my comfort with the term fat) like myself will be on level ground with the stereotypical views of "fit." In the meantime, unfortunately, 'plus-sized' is a coined term to not piss off the crowd who aren't as liberated or comfortable with the fat term being thrown around.
For several months now, I have talked either in private or on public forums with folks asking the same question: "How does it feel to be a plus-size/fat/larger/full figured...athlete?" What does it feel like to be a petite athlete or a regular ass athlete? Perhaps the question should be rephrased to "How do YOU feel about being an athlete?" If asked this question, I'd probably say that I feel a mixture between overwhelmed, excited and blessed.
At any size, athletes succumb to the pressures of keeping our diets intact, struggling to find a balance between our work, personal and fitness lives and being human. With the rise of social media and our eyes, hearts and groins indulging in all things artificial, it's easy to forget that we have worries, fears and insecurities too. Fuck, some days, I look in the mirror and see a whale and days like this morning, I am astonished by my solid arms, Amazon legs and level of confidence. To hell with labels: People need to work on their self-esteems. When more of us do this, signature terms like 'plus-size' will be obsolete. In the meantime, I think there's a passive need for these terms. Some people need to feel uncomfortable that a descriptive word has to be placed before a title or achievement for progress to be made. In the meantime, we all need to embrace the suck so others can stop pretending that the pink elephant has been in the room the whole damn time, eating popcorn and watching Married with Children.
Past, Present & Future
Dear Latoya (Shauntay if you're nasty),
You changed. And that's beautiful. I am thankful for your brilliance and levels of not giving a fuck about what anyone has to say about you. In 2012, you hit rock bottom like nobody's business and in 2013, you found yourself with an intimate set of friends and family after purging people who's lease was up years ago. Through fitness, attempts and failures, you are flourishing like a flower and not just any flower: A Perennial.
One day, I will wake up and I will no longer be a fat athlete. No prefix or safe descriptive term in front of my abilities. I will be able to retire #fatrunner and #plussizeathlete into an incinerator, although I'll be nostalgic of these trending topics. In the meantime, there's more work to be done, discussions that haven't even brewed yet and more people to piss off from their levels of comfort. There's more "plus-sized" athletes out there who don't even know that they're going to be hitting the pavement, swimming in deep waters or riding alongside me on the road as I yell at angry drivers because I'm a stereotypical New Yorker. In the meantime, let's work on more than just our bodies but molding our minds to respect ourselves and each other.