This Plus Size Runner’s Story of Being Heckled at The NYC Marathon Will Inspire You
I’m fit. I’m fat. I’m an athlete.
That’s the tagline on Latoya Shauntay Snell’s blog Running Fat Chef, where she talks of her experiences as a plus size marathoner, ultra-marathoner and obstacle-course racer.
She is living proof that you can be fat and fit; that your body size does not indicate your health. As we have written many times on this blog, you cannot diagnose someone by just looking at them.
To say Snell is an inspiration is an understatement. She’s a powerhouse; a perfect example of someone who persists, believes and never gives up.
The freelance chef and photographer recently wrote a candid piece for The Glow Up that unfortunately shows the reality for plus size people just out there living their lives, doing what makes them happy. In this case, it was Snell running the New York City marathon.
This was Snell’s 8th marathon to date, which to us is a major accomplishment. She states:
“Despite months of emotional and physical hurdles, I invested endless hours on the pavement in training. I committed to waking up at ungodly hours each morning, programming my body to an insane routine of regularity, learning what foods worked well with each distance, and mastering leaving my brownstone at dawn without waking my husband and son.”
When an athlete trains for such events, the last thing they’re thinking about is preparing themselves for heckles and harassment while running. However, that’s what Snell experienced between the 22nd and 23rd miles of the marathon:
“…my home-stretch high was disrupted by a tall, balding white man who felt it appropriate to shout, ‘It’s gonna take your fat ass forever, huh?’
Shocked and angry, I stopped and retorted expletives and insults, then posted my frustrations to my Facebook page. Two other female runners witnessed our confrontation and told me he wasn’t worth it. They were right, of course, but the damage was already done. By that point, I’d lost minutes and much-needed energy to a man who took pride in poking fun at my size.”
She kept running but that man’s comments stuck in her head.
“He didn’t know what I’d sacrificed to be there; how I’d contemplated abandoning a sport I often refer to as ‘oxygen’ because I was still grieving the miscarriage of my twins in August. He didn’t know I’d had emergency surgery for endometriosis, or the 142 times over the course of a year that I’d been called everything from ‘fat bitch’ to the n-word online, simply for being a black, plus-size food-and-fitness blogger.
And he didn’t care. As a mere spectator, he saw my 5-foot-3-inch, 218-pound body as a joke. And I—an exhausted runner who was so close but still so far from the finish line—fell for the bait, as he lured me with insults.”
However, the support of her friends waiting at the sidelines for her to finish, made her push through and keep running because “I didn’t sign up for the New York City Marathon to prove anything to anyone but myself“. Yes!
“And as I finished the New York City Marathon—a few minutes over the seven-hour mark—I felt content. I didn’t need to harbor anger or aggression; that man wasn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last, to toss off a callous comment about my weight. I’m aware of what I look like and the stereotypes that accompany my size, and anyone who thinks I need to be educated about the laundry list of obesity risks needn’t bother. He didn’t say anything about which I’m not already aware.”
Snell is simply incredible. Living in a world as a plus size person is not easy, especially if you’re doing things that people “think” or “feel” you shouldn’t do because of your size. Snell calls herself “powerful” and part of that power is not buying into what society thinks you should and should not be able to do in your body. She reminds us that despite the naysayers, the only opinion that matters is your own.
As she closed her essay with this inspiring words, we could only feel empowered and ready to conquer the world:
“I am powerful because I believe that I am. And I owe nobody an explanation for what moves me.”