Friday night I did my weekly “long run,” this week it was a 6 mile run/walk combination. It wasn’t a great day but I’ve learned that there are good and bad days and that’s cool. So it wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be, but it was faster than I did the same week of training last time so I’ll take it. Everything was fine until the last half mile of the run.
On my marathon route there is a church about a half mile from my starting point. When I started training for my marathon last year they were just starting renovations. By the time I was doing my marathon the renovations were done. Throughout the time the church was always packed with people often out in front of the church for fellowship with themselves and their minister. They would typically spill onto the sidewalk and I would always smile and say a general hello when I walked by.
Tonight they were in church when I walked out, but on the way back they were on the sidewalk. The minister stepped in front of me, and then this happened:
Minister: I’ve seen you walking out here for a long time.
Me: Open my mouth to explain that I’m training for a marathon (like every other marathoner I know, I’m always grateful for the chance to tell someone that I’m doing a marathon without having to work hard to get it into the conversation)
Minister: I know it hasn’t been working, but don’t quit, you will lose the weight.
Me: Open my mouth to explain my SA/HAES philosophy.
Minister: Puts his hands ON MY HEAD and says “Jesus, this girl works so hard, please heal her from her obesity, Amen.”
Me: Discover that my Catholic upbringing trumps my self-defense reflexes and I narrowly avoid punching a minister in a the face, I lock eyes with him and say with as much intensity as I can “Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me. How DARE you ask your god to change my body?! How DARE you suggest that my body needs changing?!”
This is a show stopper, the 20 or so people who are on the lawn have stopped what they are doing and are staring at us.
Minister: I was just trying to help.
Me: I don’t need or want your help.
I walked away before he could say anything else. Coincidentally, my column this month for Ms. Fit is about diets that are run by religious leaders who conflate body size with the success of one’s religious practice, but this is a whole other level. Honestly, I think I prefer it when they throw eggs. If it hadn’t been for the distraction from a combination of shock, and worrying about missing my time goal this might have ended very differently, since he could easily have activated my face punch and profanity-laced monolog reflexes.
I mentioned this on Facebook and people responded with an amazing outpouring of support and suggestions. They have commented and sent me e-mails suggesting that I do everything from charging him with assault to thanking him for his good intentions. We all get to choose how we deal with our oppression and both of those are fine choices, but they aren’t my choice. The first thing that I’m going to do is refuse to change my life for this person – I’m going to continue on my marathon route as I always have. And I’ll consider being ready to sacrifice my time goal if I have an opportunity for a teachable moment with him or any of his congregants. I’ll also continue to be open to receiving his heartfelt apology for his completely inappropriate behavior.
That was something crappy, here’s something awesome:
I am so very, very excited about this! The Flying Rhinos are a way for people of all sizes who want to carve out space and obtain visibility and respect for fat people in the fitness world to be public about our involvement, show our pride and solidarity, and recognize each other when we’re out and about.
What Do the Rhinos do?
We live our mission out loud, wearing our official Flying Rhinos shirts in everything from our own movement activities and classes, to organized races, sports, and events. We have our own group on the Fit Fatties Forum to discuss our training, get support, swap stories and race reports, talk about events we’re in and plan meet-ups offline to do events together and/or just hang out.
Our shirts help us show our pride and recognize each other. If you want to order a shirt either for you individually, or for your team (whether it’s for an organized sport, a 5k, a charity event or whatever) just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org with the size(s) and I’ll get you the details. We are taking requests for the current order until Wednesday, June 11th, then we’ll get the best deal we can for the number of shirts we have and split the cost evenly among the people making the order (no upcharges for larger shirts and nobody is making any money off the deal except whoever we hire to make the shirts!)
Who Can be a Rhino?
Everyone, of every size, who participates in movement at any level and is committed to body positivity is welcome to become a member of the group, and wear the official shirt. Wear it to yoga, wear it to roll your wheelchair in a 5k, wear it at the pool, wear it to your Krav Maga class, wear it to Zumba, wear it going around your block or in a marathon, put together a softball team or a team for a charity race and we’ll get you some shirts. Roll with the Rhinos for a fun, supportive, body positive, rocking good time.
How did this come about?
It started as a discussion on Ragen’s Facebook page about ridiculous names that haters call us – landwhale, hamplanet, and that day’s offering – land blimp. Seriously, land blimp. People started coming up with their own ideas and Nora suggested “Flying Rhinos”. We had been thinking about starting a group like this and the name struck us as perfect. Nora agreed to let us use the name, Sara H. designed the amazing logo and The Flying Rhinos said “Hello World!” on May 30, 2014.
Of course this is totally optional – while fat people absolutely deserve to be able to participate in whatever movement we want without shame, stigma, bullying, oppression, or unwanted laying of hands- and deserve to have spaces to talk about that – participating in fitness doesn’t make a fat person better or worse than anyone else – it’s not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or a reason to treat someone differently. The good fatty bad fatty dichotomy needs to die.
Like the blog? Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible ( THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!) Click here for details
Here’s more cool stuff:
Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?) Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!
My Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for detail
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details