You know I’m fat. You know I’m a girl. You know I run. I’ve written posts about my weight before, but how do I really feel about being a fat runner? What do I really think of my body?
Before I go on, I need to be clear that this post is about me and what I think of my body. It does not reflect what I think about other people. I’ve had enough of being judged myself to know I’d rather ‘do unto others’; so I don’t judge. Also, you’ve probably figured out by now that I am really, really hard on myself. I don’t extend that to anyone else. I would ask anyone reading this post to keep that in mind.*
The truth is, I hate it. I hate my body.
I hate it because my body is telling the wrong story.
I look in the mirror and all I see is a fat, ugly, disgusting blob; a waste of a human being. I hate my reflection and cringe whenever I see it. I avoid looking into mirrors or windows because the person I see reflected is not the person I expect to see.
I don’t see a body that ran a marathon after 7 months of training. I don’t see a body that runs 5 days a week. I don’t see a body that has been working out on a regular basis. I don’t see a body that is fed with healthy foods. I don’t see a body that takes on interval training, hill sessions and tempo runs every week. I don’t see a body that has a healthy heart. I don’t see a body with clean lungs, a strong core and healthy blood. I don’t see a body that is running faster than ever and still improving.
All I see is a fat, ugly, disgusting blob.
I am aware that some of these thoughts stem from a long history of low self-esteem; with people and experiences in my past that tore my confidence into shreds and from which I’ve never fully recovered.
Some of these thoughts come from what I know society thinks of me as a fat person. I’ve read about websites devoted to hating fat people. I’ve heard of message forums for people who hate ‘fatties’ where they can post with like-minded people. I’ve heard all about the cards handed out to fat people in London, telling them how much they are hated because they are fat. I’ve seen celebrities derided and mocked in magazines and newspapers for putting on weight.
Personally and closer to home, I’ve been called any number of names because I’m fat. I’ve been insulted, laughed at, pointed to and sneered at; all because I’m fat. Worse than that, I’ve had well-meaning but still hurtful comments about my weight from friends and people who know me. The very worst thing a friend ever said to me, the most hurtful thing, was this: ‘when I see fat people I think god I’m slim’. In my mind I thought ‘I knew it. I knew skinny people felt this way about me’. To have it confirmed made me incredibly sad.
So I know what society thinks of me and my body. I know society assumes that because I’m fat I must sit on the couch all day, eating cakes and cookies and crisps before ordering my takeaway dinner, scoffing it all then washing it down with a two litre bottle of Coke before waddling off to the doctors office and taking up a chair that rightfully belongs to someone who is ‘really’ sick. I know society thinks a fat tax will help me lose weight because then I won’t buy those cakes, cookies, crisps and Coke if they are taxed through the roof.
What society doesn’t know is that I don’t eat those foods, or drink fizzy drinks, and can’t even remember the last time I was at a doctor’s office. All society sees when they look at me is a fat, ugly, disgusting, blob. They see that because my body is telling the wrong story.
But as much as I hate my body for it; I am grateful for my body as well.
My body is healthy. My limbs are intact and in working order. Everything works the way it should. My body is fit; it had the stamina to train for and run a near-7 hour marathon and the ability to be back running 9 days afterwards. It has the strength to run 5 days a week and workout once a week on top of that. It has the energy to run interval, hill and tempo sessions the way my coach wants me to. My body has a strong, healthy heart. My body has clean lungs, strong core and healthy blood. My body is able to run faster then ever, and is still improving.
My body is pretty awesome to be able to do all that. Even if it doesn’t look like it. Which is why, whenever I do get a glimpse of myself in the mirror I feel so disgusted.
My body is telling the wrong story.
But I don’t let that stop me. Regardless of what society thinks and despite how I feel about myself; I don’t let it hold me back. I will use my strong, capable and healthy body to keep on running. I have training to do, races to run and PB’s to chase.
*Why am I posting about this now? Because I think that despite the growing ‘fat acceptance, love your body’ movement, there are some of us who struggle with body image and who can’t envisage loving our bodies the way this movement wants us to. But like any belief system, just because others tell me I should think differently, doesn’t mean my thoughts and feelings about myself are invalid. They are anything but; they are valid and valuable. No I don’t ’embrace my curves’ and I feel it’s ok not to so long as I don’t let it stop me from achieving my goals. And you know, not loving my body doesn’t mean I’m any less happy with my life. Hating my body doesn’t mean I hate myself. I have a good life and I’m happy. I love my personality and my quirks. And that’s ok too.**
**I know this is a touchy subject. I invite comments/debate/discussion, all I ask is that you comment with compassion. As usual, comments are moderated.
14 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fattest one of all?”
Jeez. I identified with every word. I seem to be a fat bird who runs with a huge group of skinny racing snakes. I’m the fattest, the slowest and the most unhappy. When I’m really low I get out my medals and race bibs to remind me how far I’ve come. But like you, I look in the mirror and see a disgusting fat blob. And photos of me running?? Please, no more 😦
Thanks for your comment, Les. I feel the same about the photos! But you’re right to look at what you’ve accomplished so far, you haven’t let your feelings stop you and that’s awesome. We may be fat and slow, but we’re still runners!
A very honest blog. Unfortunately we live in an age when body image is much too high on the social agenda and there is no sign of this changing in the future. I’m sorry that you feel this way about your body. As you said, your body is an amazing thing as is your mind. You have achieved many things that a lot of people (any shape or size) would not even have the courage to attempt yet alone do it! Being one of those ‘thin’ people, I find it annoying when people say to me ‘how come you can stay so slim? Don’t you eat enough’. I don’t always know how to answer this and most of the time I don’t. I am what i am. We all have to play with the cards we are dealt and can only make so many changes within our control. I wouldn’t say I love my body. It’s not perfect but what is perfect? I don’t believe in perfection. I really hope you can learn to love your body one day. In the meantime keep on running and chasing those PB’s!!
Hi Linda, thanks for your comment. I love your words ‘I am what I am’. I need to remind myself of that. I’m not saying I want a ‘perfect body’ (no such thing, I agree) but if only my body matched my health. If only it told the correct story. Part of this comes from how public a person’s size is and how society feels free to comment on our sizes. Like you, with comments on how slim you are, or me with comments on how fat I am…our bodies aren’t off limits for people to talk about. That so frustrating. But, as you say I can keep on running and PBing and carry on. And I will!
I’ve stood next to younger ladies and beaten them. I’ve stood next to slim ladies and beaten them. I’ve lined up with ladies bigger than me and they’ve beaten me. The truth is runners come in all shapes and sizes but in most cases we are training and racing as the one mainly friendly bunch doing what we can do individually the best we can do.
True words, Lesley! Thank you! I have always enjoyed showing up to a race and running with all kinds of runners; young, old, big, small, tall, short etc etc. Running is for everyone! Even this fat girl! 😛
You are a runner Carrie. That’s whats important. The marathon was only a start. Anyone who continues to run after completing a marathon is amazing. Your amazing. Keep going.
Aw, thanks Roger. I appreciate that! I definitely plan to keep going. See you at the next race?
I had to leave you a reply. Reading this makes me feel so sad and at the same time I feel terribly stupid about my own insecurities.
The truth is we all have them. I ran Dublin as my first marathon in October too. I found your blog not long before this & I think you’re fantastic. I took much longer than you to get back to running & even longer to start back regularly. The truth is I only wore my marathon shirt out on a run for the first time last week & I still think people are looking at me saying ‘who does she think she is wearing that? !’
It’s a form of ‘imposter syndrome’ – and I have to constantly reminds myself that I’m worthy. And so do you.
The way I do this is by thinking back on how far I’ve come. To the time I couldn’t run for 5 minutes without feeling like my lungs would burst, to the first time I ran 1km, then 5, then 10… All the way to 42.2!!
Be impressed with your achievements… as far as body image … I can only say we all feel bad sometimes, a certain amount is normal I guess.
Ps I always look like I’m dying in race photos lol
Hi, Jackie. Thank you so much for your comment. Congrats on finishing DCM 😀 Wear that shirt with pride, you’ve earned it! I wear mine sometimes and all I’ve gotten are a few smiles and a thumbs up and one runner who said ‘great shirt’…she was wearing one too.
I hope that when you tell yourself you are worthy, you believe it!
Your post is something that I have been thinking about myself for so long. It affects anyone who doesn’t have the ‘ideal’ runners body. Even though we put in as much effort as the faster ones others just look at us and don’t give us a second thought. I used to be a very toned rower in my late teens but then discovered uni and laziness. Fast forward to 6 years later and here I am, having completed two marathons, a handful of halts and countless 5ks. Proving everyone wrong. What I am trying to say is that this post is heartwarming and it helps me realise that I am not the only one who might be thinking like that. But if we support each other and not care what someones body shape is, then we would be having a lot more fun! See you at another race soon Carrie! You are a great inspiration
Nici ( the one who says hi to you at races!)
Thanks, Nici! I always appreciate your hellos at the races. One of these days we should have a chat after! And thanks for your comment. I put off writing this post because I was nervous about what kind of comments I might get, but I knew I couldn’t be alone in thinking the way I do. I’m glad this has been such a positive post for people. You’re right, the more supportive we are of each other, the better. And so far, I’ve found the running community to be mostly supportive. It has definitely helped keep me going!
See you at the next race!
Not sure I have much to add except to say well done for such an honest post. Many, many people are feeling the same and having this post may help them feel slightly less “different” for want of a better word. I hope you continue to love running and thanks for the blog to continue to remind us that it’s not easy but it’s worth doing anyway.
Thank you so much, Susie. Your comment is so encouraging. It was hard to post such a personal thing but I’m really heartened by the comments and reactions to it, so I’m glad I published it. I recently had to take 4 days off from running and couldn’t stand it so went out the very next day. I think it proved to me that running is my life now. I couldn’t be without it. 😀