When Online Trolls Become In-Person Stalkers

21 Getting out of the waterI’ve written before about some of the ridiculous antics of my trolls. My IRONMAN 70.3 last weekend upped the ante, and resulted in not just online troll shenanigans, but also creepy in-person stuff. I’ve gone back and forth about how much of this to disclose – both because it will be disturbing to some people, and because of the idea that you “shouldn’t give trolls attention.” I understand that attitude and it’s how I deal with it most of the time, but today I think it’s time to talk about what’s been happening.

I know that some people may find this triggering and/or deeply disturbing and if you don’t want to read about it I totally support you in that, I’ll be back tomorrow with my usual blog fare.  Regardless please know that all of this has been reported, it is being monitored, I’m okay, and this won’t stop me from my activism, or my IRONMAN goal.

I’ve been harassed every single day for years by these people.  Most message come into my e-mail either sent directly or by blog comment, some are sent by FB private message, and a few are posted on my Facebook page. I delete those that are public and never publish the rest (unless they are interesting enough to make my hatemail page, which I haven’t had the time to update in a while.) They also troll  every interview and article about me, and everything I write that is published online, and I can’t always control the comments there.

A few years ago they started seriously trying to affect my livelihood,  they contact colleges, corporations and conferences that hire me to speak trying to get the talks canceled (including those I don’t make public which is pretty creepy), they contact publishers and people partnering with me telling them that they shouldn’t work with me. They’ve never been successful, which may be why they escalated.

It had started with constantly talking about me in fat hate forums. Then it was creating forums specifically about me, there is even someone who created an entire anti-me website (that is a tribute to rhetorical tautology and obsessive fixation.) That’s when the cyberstalking started. I started getting demands that I justify things in my past –  a quote that was printed in the margin of my tiny hometown paper when I was nine years old, a friend’s nickname, past dieting, my brother’s suicide, lies my father told in an interview, and more.  They try to get me to waste my time and energy answering a constant barrage of accusations and demands for information – it’s like have my very own little birthers and Benghazi committee.

I was doxxed with the excuse that if they were able to find the information then I deserved it, they created and disseminated a map from my home to the place I most often work out, they publish the details of events I attend or speak at, sometimes showing up to try to hijack the Q&A.

When I talk about what they do, they either claim it never happened or try to make it seem like I’m the problem and not them. My choice to do the IRONMAN has caused another escalation from online to in-person trolling and I think it’s important to talk about it so that they don’t get to do this to me in silence.  I’m going to talk about the online shenanigans and also the creepy scary in-person shenanigans.

Troll Shenanigans

The short story of the IM 70.3 is that I took 2 minutes too long on the swim and got pulled off the course.  After changing out of my wetsuit I got my phone and posted to my FB wall:

IM 70.3 was a Total disaster, way worse than my worst case scenario. 2 minutes over the time in the swim, didn’t even get on the bike. Thanks to everyone for your support. Sucks to have a setback like this, but now I have a year to get ready so I don’t feel like this next year at the full ironman. I’ll post a race report in ironfat.com at some point.

My family and I decided to go grab some lunch and by the time we got to the restaurant my FB page was trollapalooza – party at Reddit’s house and everyone’s invited!  They were also engaging in one of their very favorite pastimes – lying to accuse me of lying.  It’s very “meta.”

In this case the lie they had chosen was that I, in fact, didn’t finish the swim. Because they are not an organized army but rather a loosely affiliated group of jerks, things became a bit chaotic.  Some people said that I never got in the water. Some said that I had climbed out part way through. Some said that I had been pulled in by a rescue boat. When the dust cleared they decided to go with the story that I was pulled in by a rescue boat.

Soon people started to say that they were there and saw me being rescued.  My favorite said that she was there and saw me fail to complete the third loop of the swim and get rescued by a boat – which would have been slightly more plausible if the swim course wasn’t a single loop. This went on until my awesome Best Friend posted the picture of me that he had taken swimming up to the platform, and getting out of the water. Foiled again. Except some people didn’t get the memo and continued to post that they were there and saw me get pulled in by a rescue boat. Oops.

This is typical troll stuff, but the fact that they were posting it on my FB was pretty odd.  Instead of filling forums and websites with their hate, and sending it to me through comments and e-mails that nobody ever sees like they do every other day, my trolls were harassing and bullying me in public. So my FB friends were now seeing the hatred and vitriol that I usually try to protect them from.

The only reason I could think that the trolls did this was because they believed their own PR.  For months they had been telling me that if I failed at the IM 70.3 I would lose all of my readers, fans, friends, speaking gigs, etc. They insisted that because I set a personal goal of doing an IRONMAN, the validity of the rest of my work around Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size now depended on my succeeding at the endeavor (and every stage of it.)  I knew that wasn’t true, but I think that they accidentally started to believe their own lies.  Boy were they wrong.

What followed was a massive outpouring of support that has left me grateful, humbled, and crying tears of joy.  It’s a day on my FB thread, messages, and e-mail that I will go back to and read again on the tough days. Knowing that I would probably be away from my phone for awhile, people had taken it upon themselves to address the trolls on my Facebook wall until I could delete them, as well as posting on the wall, and sending private messages and e-mails filled with incredibly kind, supportive messages. Huge thanks to all of you for your support, you’ll never know how much it means to me.

But public online trolling wasn’t the only thing different about this day…

Creepy Scary IRL Trolls

The announcement of the IM caused another escalation, the trolls had become obsessed with every blog post and Facebook post I made, writing about them, tweeting about them, blogging about them, trying to get more information about my training using every tactic from insisting that I give it to them to pretending to be fans of my work. Meanwhile they kept telling me that they were engaging in letter writing campaigns to the IRONMAN organizers and that I would never be allowed to start.

Things got weird after I registered for a couple local triathlons.  I didn’t say anything about them publicly because I didn’t want the organizers to be harassed by my trolls. I ended up not doing them and after the second I got hundreds of e-mails/comments and even some posts on my FB wall telling me that they knew I hadn’t done them, as if I owe anyone an explanation for my training schedule.  I thought it was pretty creepy stalking behavior to have discovered that I had registered for two very small local triathlons, and extra creepy for posting about it online and contacting me to be sure I knew that they were stalking me at this level, but I brushed it off as just my trolls having too much free time.

That brings us to the IM 70.3.  I was standing in the athlete area at the swim start waiting for my wave to go. Another athlete walked up beside me and said “So what did reddit say this morning?”  I was so surprised I didn’t even think about it before answering him. “I didn’t look”  Then I asked, attempting to sound casual,  “How do you know about reddit?”  He stumbled through a story about how he was looking for information on this 70.3 and just happened to see a thread about me on reddit. I said that I thought those people needed to find a hobby of some kind, or volunteer somewhere, and he just looked away. In my experience anyone who has seen one of those forums and is not a troll agrees with me so I found it suspicious that he didn’t.

He then started telling me some story about learning how to swim three years ago. I half listened as I tried to calculate the odds that someone who just happened to stumble upon a reddit forums about me ended up standing next to me in a group of 1600 athletes, recognized me in a wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles, and thought it was appropriate to ask about a forum devoted to hating me, in a way that assumed I both knew about it and checked the forum.

Even though I thought that there was zero chance that this person wasn’t a troll (perhaps mostly because only a troll would think that at 3am on the morning of my IM 70.3 I would be checking reddit to remind myself how absolutely horribly they treat me) I decided to go with the charade that this was just some dude.  I congratulated him on his learning to swim, and wished him luck.

After the race I would find out that prior to the race the anti-me website had posted a minute by minute schedule of where I would be, including updating the site about my choice to wear my wetsuit and my 7:45am start time which I had talked about on my blog.

After my race ended, various forums and websites posted pictures and video that were taken of me and my family, some taken by people standing just feet away from me. Many of the pictures were taken after I had gotten out of the water and exited the athlete area, meaning that they couldn’t have been taken by someone competing in the race.  People online bragged about stalking me and my family, saying horrible things about my partner, my mother, and my best friend and his husband.

That’s when the paranoia started – I lost track of that guy after our conversation, had he been the one to kick me in the face? Had he been the one to grab my feet and pull me under water? When the results were published it showed a DNS (did not start) instead of a DNF (did not finish) I knew I crossed the timing mat so I assumed it was just some technical glitch, but now I wondered if they had they messed with my timing chip.  Laying in my bed that night there was a bright flash outside my window and I had a momentary panic that they were outside my hotel room taking pictures.

Other friends of mine who were there saw some of the people taking pictures and told me later that they got their faces on film. Apparently the stalkers saw this because they immediately started threatening lawsuits if their faces appeared anywhere.  (They’re not just the presidents of the “Dish it out but can’t take it” club, they’re also clients.)

They do it all anonymously, of course. Unlike me and the other fat activists, feminists etc. who they troll, they lack the courage to put their names to what they write. Often they try to justify their trolling – they say I deserve it because they disagree with me that fat people should be treated like human beings, or they disagree with the science behind HAES, or they believe me to be a liar/fraud/devil incarnate, one simile-happy troll recently compared me to Joe Camel.

I think, I hope, it’s pretty clear that regardless of what they think of me or my work, their behavior is ridiculously out of line. It’s a campaign of sustained harassment meant to silence me, to wear me down until I quit..  But it won’t work.  I will not be silenced, I will not be afraid, and I will keep speaking, and writing, and living my amazing life surrounded by love and support, and doing work that makes people’s lives better.  And I imagine that the trolls will keep standing outside, scratching at the windows trying to get in, desperate to feel like they are part of something. And how pathetic is that?

If you want the full race report and pictures from the IRONMAN 70.3  you can find them here.

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86 thoughts on “When Online Trolls Become In-Person Stalkers

  1. Dear Ragen – I wrote to you last week wondering if you would share something about why you undertook something so gruelling as an IM. Now I think I understand. You are absolutely amazing – but more than that, you are the most courageous person I know. How in this world someone whose life is devoted to helping and inspiring other people to be the best that they can possibly be no matter who they are, what the world thinks about them, what they look like, how in this world, someone like you could become the target of so much hate and aggression is beyond my comprehension. You know what? Your Iron Man was a complete success. You won. You won for every one of us just by getting out there and doing it. You are the best and we love you! I understand now.

  2. I truly am sorry for all the harrassment you have suffered. If it isn’t, it should be illegal to treat someone like this. I have believed for some time that the only type of person who would be this fat-phobic is someone who believes they have absolutely nothing to offer which makes them worry except their thinness. How sad.

    Warm blessings, Linda Quest

  3. i wish i still had some money, because i would still be a member of yr site. next year, january, i will, & i will.
    otoh, & again, please know:

    ★★★★★ YOUR WORK SAVES LIVES ★★★★★

    never forget that. i cannot tell you how much better, how much exponentially better my life would have been had you & yr work & yr website[s] existed when i was younger. it helps even now. i talk about yr work to my friends, i promote it. i only wish i could do more. i am GRATEFUL.

    what i can do is tell you what i, unfortunately, know about stalkers. years ago, i had no choice but to leave san francisco because i was being stalked by, yes, two people at the same time. stalking is a TERRIBLE problem. it is now, however, more illegal.

    here are my suggestions, in order, you can take them or leave them, it is up to you:

    // they wanna talk about things they think you want to keep secret. dont keep them secret. there yrs, & you will have a lot more power if you just send all of it, send all the crap into the world. it doesnt matter what it is. none of it will hurt you, none of it will matter to the people to whom you matter. we will not be mad at you. we will be PROUD of you, instead. we already are.
    write up all of it, dont let them have it, give it to the world yrself. it may not feel like it at first, but doing that will give you much more control & make you feel, & be, MUCH more in control of yr own life. you want that back. THAT—the taking control of yr life—is the WORST thing stalkers do. it’s the worst thing anyone can do to anyone, i can tell you from long, miserable experience.

    as minor as it sounds, doing that is really important. you’ve gotta show these mothraforkers that what they do has no meaning to you. they want to damage you, they get an endorphin rush when they think they do. dont let them that. in this small way, begin to take back yr power.

    YOU HAVE POWER. you have followers, family, a partner, and HUNDREDS maybe THOUSANDS of people who really believe in you. the stalkers dont. they’re likely just a bunch of people with few human connections, whose major connection is of the 4chan type: equally limited individuals online whom they dont actually know, people who are also bereft of most of lived life. YOU ARE NOT THAT. it’s late, i’m not saying this well, but, the thing is: in their way, they’re jealous. they look at you, find themselves both superior [due to a moment in historical advertisement, but they’re too ignorant to know it], & are FURIOUS that you, to whom they find themselves superior, have things THEY WANT & WILL NEVER HAVE.

    that IS part of it. KNOW IT. [i had a big life, as a kid i lived this. i promise you, jealousy, weird as it sounds, is a TREMENDOUS part of their problem. in this case, so is an inability to make human connection. understand that, but it’s not gonna stop them. taking some of yr power back by being completely open will give them pause. but it’s not enough. that’s for my next post.

    1. I agree about the jealousy. I was reading a bit in a recent issue of American Psychology, about bullying, and the authors examined the bullies and found they had a hard life at home, were abused, and were likely to commit suicide within a few years. These internet bullies though, are more likely to feel envy of the ones they are bullying.

      I think with the traditional bullies, they can’t lash out at their parents or guardians, so they do it to their peers.

  4. Hey, I’ve just started following and wanted to say a huge congrats on getting through the swim. I am in awe (particularly after that super-creepy exchange at the start). Also, what started as an in-passing view has now become a regular stop in my search for body-positive role models – so the trolls are well and truly losing. Thanks

  5. It’s a shame that honesty is so hard to find these days. Because of this, perhaps they should consider having “stewards” that tag along through an event (in a boat, car…whatever). Their job should be to look for infractions committed by other participants that would interfere with an individual’s performance or completion. If you were, in fact, pulled under or kicked in the face intentionally by another competitor– then that competitor should be disqualified.
    I think that the manner in which these trolls were stalking you “in person” is not only creepy, but should be considered an illegal form of harrassment…..Hello restraining order.
    In addition to all this, perhaps the thing I find to be the most pathetic (and sad) is that there are people out there that obviously feel so threatened by someone of size completing a competition that they feel they must resort to such crazy tactics to try an prevent that from happening. There isn’t anything out there that screams “I am painfully insecure” more than this. Life is too damn short for this. I sincerely hope that somewhere along the line, these individuals get the professional help they so OBVIOUSLY need!
    I have nothing but praise for you, Ragen for tackling this head on with your best effort. You are 100% an inspiration to me and I KNOW that completing a FULL Ironman is imminent in your future!! 🙂

    1. in california it’s more than restraining order. it’s JAIL. these creeps are middle class, they dont wanna go to jail, they’d get MASSACRED in jail. we have BIG stalking laws. we have a law against something called “terroristic threats.” that means verbal threats, doesnt even have to be physical. physical is ASSAULT. stalking is PRISON. [this is correct, but it needs documentation. i wish the thing would let me put in my last post…..]

  6. [apologies for all the previous typos, and assuredly for the typos that will soon arrive. it’s 4am, i’m beat, & what’s happening to you REALLY upset me. you do not deserve it. & it’s mean. stalking is horrible.]

    the last of the ‘easy’ stuff is this:

    you know, you don’t have to read all the hate mail. DELEGATE. you have people who really do care about you. i do. out of all the internet sites i know, yrs has helped me the most. & i am not alone. so many of us feel the same. we will help. have some of us toss & sort the hate stuff. you don’t need to read it every day. just taking that much nastiness out of yr life will make you feel better. every little step of this will help.

    same with reddit. [long story here, shortened] eddie van halen has one of his financial managers check the internet for counterfeit VH stuff. do a similar thing with reddit. reddit is a cheap little place, it’s often like 4chan, unfortunately, for the 25+. DELEGATE again. have an assistant go through reddit. you dont have to do it. many of us would do this stuff for you, in gratitude, for free.

    even if you force yrself to ignore cruelty, even if yr able to recognize it for the waste of time that it, & its progenitors, are, meanness still hurts. it cant not. you need an away space. you can have one. just ask yr people, you have so many. remember, always, we are here. truly.

    that leads into the hard stuff:

  7. Hey Ragen, I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I’ve been stalked, assaulted and hospitalized, my home has been broken into, my friends, family and child harassed. This was after restraining orders had been in place. my thoughts and prayers for the safety of you and yours. Hugs

  8. Your choice of words to describe the trolls’ frighteningly creepy behaviours as “ridiculously out of line” is the epitome of “understatement”. It’s criminal, is what it is. It’s abusive and awful and no one should have to put up with that bullshit.

    Your work DOES save lives. Your entire existence is a testament to living with integrity and self-respect. Theirs is the complete opposite. You are always and forever, awesome and strong and a hero to so many of us.

    I love the photo of you exiting the swim, regardless of how you may have felt at the time for DNFing on a technicality – that’s just the nature of the sport and now you’ve drunk the Kool Aid with the rest of us tri girls, and you’ll keep at it ’til you get what you want out of it. Cuz you rock.

    Always cheering for you and EXTREMELY grateful for all that you do. *huggggg*

  9. Ragen, you may want to consider going to the police with your concerns, if you haven’t already. It’s one thing for people to say nasty things on the web, its another thing entirely to publish the location of someone’s house or show up at an event to scare or possibly even assault them. If you or your family or partner feel unsafe, please talk to your local police, they often will have a specific unit dedicated to helping people who have stalker problems. Get out ahead of this, don’t assume they aren’t dangerous just because you are classier than they are. Good luck! and congratulations on participating in the IM.

  10. So glad you shared this even though it’s so very terrifying to read about (let alone experience). Let your community and loved ones embrace you; I truly believe love and truth always prevail, eventually. And wow, talk about the amount of time they have on their hands and the anger/cruelty/hate they walk around with, operating from, each day. Good lord. Wow. You are so articulate and insightful and do so much good in the world for so many. Thank you!

  11. This is unbelievable. Like training for an iron man isn’t hard enough but you have to deal with all this insanity. I’m so sorry. It’s mind blowing that people have nothing better to do. Seriously. You are obviously doing something (a lot) right to be attracting so much attention but what a drag for you. Please continue on. The world 🌍 needs your message. I certainly do. Sending you love and blessings. Angela

  12. I find that their behavior is beyond “just bored people”. There is something wrong with those people. Who goes out to harass someone they have never met? What kind of a person does that? And what kind of a person can talk to you, face to face, seeing that you are a human being and still act so hatefully? And yes, all those questions are rhetorical. Most off my answers begin with an A and end with an E, and those are the nice ones…

    I find myself frightened for you. I wish you safety when dealing with these people and please remember there are many of us who admire what you do and value it a great deal.

  13. Oh my God. What is wrong with people? I am so sorry that you have to put up with all of this horrible stuff. Please know that what you do matters to so many people, and that you are brave and loved. I can only imagine how your family and friends feel and I hope you keep doing what you do. It couldn’t be more obvious how much we need your voice out there. Be safe and thank you for standing up.

  14. I saw this post on a friends fb page. Never been here before but I just wanted to say that this is hideous behavior. You are obviously an impressive athlete, and clearly a strong as hell person. I’m so upset to know that there are people I might race with who might do this. It’s horrifying that there are so many people who work so hard to destroy another persons hard work and joy, even when it has zero to do with them. Swim on. If I ever meet one of those people they are getting my water stop drink in their face.

  15. I am so, so sorry this happened and is happening to you. There are so many assholic falsely-disempowered-feeling dudes on the Internet, and their impotent rage just feeds itself in an all-boy he-man wimmin-haters club of dickishness. Stay strong. xoxo

  16. Strong woman,

    I am in awe of you and your resilience.

    I just read your MEDA proposal (I am a reviewer) and hope to see you at the conference!


    Elayne Daniels, PhD

  17. This is so sad. This is so stupid. I just want to join in the voices thanking you for the work you do, and thanking you for being strong enough to put up with this bullshit. I can’t imagine how awful this sort of treatment could make you feel. So thank you: For your words and your strength. I wish I could hug you right now.

    1. Also: I wouldn’t presume to tell you what to do. But I think that maybe you should report the kick and the ankle pulling as potential assaults. It’s possible that they were accidental, but also possible that they weren’t. Even though you don’t know who did them, it may be worth having an official record of the incidents.

      1. Kicks and ankle pulls happen in a triathlon swim. I had my ankle pulled in IM Boulder and was run over by a raft with a disabled man that the father was hauling through the water during the swim. I lost my goggles and was kicked in the face as well as punched in the face furing some other triathlons. The crap that happened before the race is just plain stalking. And it is illegal.

        1. Ragen also posted (on FB) a commercial from some athlete promoting a breakfast bar or something, and he was practicing the swim part, but wanted it realistic, so he had all these other guys with foam sticks, and when he started running into the water and swimming in it, they were pushing and shoving and hitting with the foam rods, to simulate the real conditions. I can’t imagine what it’s like with dozens or hundreds of other people.

          Thanks for sharing.

  18. I’d like to echo – as you’ve said, this is stalking behavior. Stalking is illegal, although the laws vary a lot from state to state. But (and I’m just guessing here), given that they’ve gone from cyber- to IRL stalking, and given that they have been following to various events, I’m guessing there’s a strong possibility at least some of this may be involving crossing state lines by the perpetrators. That could mean federal involvement, although you’d probably have to start at the state level.

    And you very well may have (I’m hoping you have) brought law enforcement into this already, and understandably can’t talk about that side of it. But this is a great way to let others know too that they don’t have to tolerate this – the laws aren’t great yet for handling this kind of behavior, but when it gets to the level of stalking IRL, there are definitely things that can be done about it, and should be! A good place to start is: http://www.haltabuse.org

  19. There’s no excuse for trolling, and outright stalking IRL is even worse. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your message is, you do not deserve to be treated that way.

    I bet you have enough documentation to press charges. They’re making threats, harassing you online, showing up in real life, and have tried to compromise your livelihood. Please consider consulting a lawyer or your local police.

  20. Trying for the third time to post this, hope it shows up this time:

    Three things:

    1) Ragen, super congratulations on completing the swim under those horrific conditions. I understand they have to have a cut-off time and if you don’t make it you’re out, but coming within 2 minutes of making that time with all the harrassment and interference you describe is AMAZING. In my mind, this is a stunning success.

    2) I join those who are respectfully urging you to take this to the police. Publishing your address is stalking; kicking you and pulling you under is potentially assault (if those were trolls). In your place, I would definitely talk to the police.

    3) Other commenters have asked “Who are these people” and “Who does this sort of thing?” They’re the same people who bombed a church in Birmingham and killed three little girls at Sunday school in the early 60s; the same people who surrounded and heckled little black children trying to go to school in Arkansas; the same people who lynched Matthew Shepard; the same people who beat Mahatma Gandhi; and on and on. The point is, whenever ANY group undertakes its own civil rights movement, there will be a huge number of vicious, horrible, hate-filled people trying to destroy that movement any way they can. I neither know nor care how they justify their actions in their own minds, but when you look at the long arc of how civil rights movements always have opponents, it’s clear that what these people are doing is reacting with rage and terror at any challenge to their own privilege. When any oppressed group says “We are human beings and we demand to be treated as human beings,” there will always be a certain number of those who profit from that oppression — through white privilege, or hetero-privilege, or male privilege, or cis-privilege, OR THIN PRIVILEGE — who panic and start spewing hate and sometimes even acting on it. Ragen’s experience is a vivid reminder of just what’s at stake here and just how important this movement is.

    1. I understand your comment and am part of the fat acceptance movement but as a Black woman, please don’t compare the struggles of a white woman (who I like, don’t get me wrong) to the struggles of people of color.

      1. it’s more that the example is so grotesquely out of proportion. the harrowing crimes committed before and during the early civil rights movement are so excruciatingly grave, so so very bad, that to make them into a small, cliché’d ‘example’ cheapens both sides, undeservedly [obviously],
        and badly.

  21. Ragen this is absolutely terrifying.I hope that you are able to document all that is happening, dates, times etc if you’re inclined, the online stuff is bad but crossing over to your daily in person life, frightening and as has been said, illegal. I just wanted to thank you once more for all of the amazing work that you do, in spite of these horrible people. You will always have my support and are a huge inspiration to me.

  22. I am so, so sorry that these people harass you with this hatred. Why on earth would anyone hate someone for pursuing fitness and encouraging large people to exercise? I can’t understand that mindset.

  23. Ragen, I have to echo the sentiments of many other commenters – I truly hope law enforcement is involved here. As you yourself noted, it’s escalating. Next up (as I’m sure you know) is physical violence (assuming the things that happened during your swim were truly accidental which is highly suspect, IMO).

    Be safe, friend. Above all, BE SAFE.

  24. Oh Ragen I am so, so sorry that you have to put up with this total BS. It makes me sad that people dedicate their time and energy to spreading hate to anyone, let alone someone whose work touches and helps so many people. Your work is courageous and it has really touched me and changed my way of thinking about so many things. I am not a fat person/person of size but I still struggle with body image issues and your work has helped me to recognize and opt out of cultural body shaming practices. I am also a triathlete and I know how hard it is to train and get out there and race even without harassment. I honestly can’t imagine how hard it is to do with the harassment and I am in awe of your courage. Keep up the good work!!!!

  25. This is so frightening and I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’ve been frightened by the actions and words of some people, but this is heinous. Please do what you must to protect yourself and to stay safe.

  26. I am so sorry that you have to deal with this. I admire your work, all you do for all of us, I admire your strength, courage, & determination. These people are beyond unspeakable, they are indeed very sick people with very serious issues. I am keeping you in my thoughts & sending positive energy to you for all you do. You are a champion, whatever happens in your athletic pursuits.

    Good luck to you. Take care.

  27. You are such an inspiration!
    I am amazed at the strength of the hate some people have towards you. I ran into it once in a progressive christians group I am a part of, where at the mention of the fat acceptance movement one guy started behaving in ways that were neither progressive, nor Christian (not even by most conservative standards). At one point he brought you up, which honestly, in the context of the conversation seemed pretty random, and good God, the vitriol out of him, I was amazed.
    At the time I was only vaguely familiar with your work, but I assumed anyone a guy like that hated that much must be doing really amazing work. I was right!
    I’m scared that people stalk you this much, it must be terrible to go through. But you know as I do that it is happening because what you are doing is really important. Backwards, bigoted people always get desperate and obsessively angry when their bigotry is being challenged. The closer they get to losing their battle, the more desperate and scary they get. If they didn’t think they were losing, they wouldn’t go to all this trouble. I’m glad the authorities are monitoring the situation. Keep safe and keep doing your important work! You are amazing!

  28. Those people are seriously messed up. I’m so sorry you are having to go through something like this (every day!). Thank you for all the work you do in the face of all this – it has made such a huge difference in my life!

  29. I don’t even understand what would prompt someone to spew such hatred toward another human. Kudos to you for having the chutzpah to compete!

  30. Ragen, I’m glad you addressed this publicly! I was really alarmed when I read your blow-by-blow on your ironfat blog, and now I am not so much horrified as incensed. I’m guessing a large proportion of your trolls are the usual pathetic lot with nothing better in their lives to provide camaraderie than harassing someone they’ve never met who has done them no harm. It’s not really about you, it’s about finding a target for the pack to howl around.

    However, in the pack of chihuahuas, dachshunds, and bichon frizzes who want others to think they’re wolves, there are likely some real sick puppies.

    If it was me in your situation I think I’d want to train with someone so as to have at least a witness at all times. I realize this may not be practical or to your liking, but in short, like the others posting here, I want to help defend someone who has been such a support and provided such inspiration to me.

    Personally, I think even getting in the water made you a winner, let alone finishing the water course under the conditions you described. Stay safe! We need you!

  31. You are an amazing person who has done much good for others. Your message that fat people deserve to be treated with decency and respect is vital. NONE of that is in *any way* diminished by not completing a half Ironman in time. I have no doubt you *will* complete your Ironman and I fully support your efforts, but if you never, ever compete again, it will have no detrimental effect toward what I think of you and what you have already accomplished.

    The people who hate you will not understand that because they have never understood your message. They may never be able to. I don’t care about them. No matter what they try, they will never be able to make you less than you are.

    I’m so furious that your safety is compromised. I’m glad you contacted the authorities. I’m also glad that you went public with this. I know that had to be a hard decision. I think it was the right one. I can’t imagine that most people who compete would support what is being done to you in any way and I think it’s important that they know this is happening. The event organizers need to know as well.

    Please know that you have our continued support. Many people have learned from you and have taken great comfort in your words and your strength. But strong people sometimes need help.

    If you need us, please let us know. We will be here.

  32. Ragen–I’m leaving this comment here just to say that I am so proud of you and the work that you do. I am so sorry that you have to put up with so much hell because of it. You are the best and I’m glad that you shared this with us. I think it is time to expose this vitriol and there has to be a way to deal with it publicly. Harassment like this has to be exposed and you are brave to do it. Please stay safe and I will be thinking of you and sending out as much positive energy out to the universe for you as I can muster! Take care of yourself and revel in what you have accomplished. Love-Love-Love you!!!!!!! xoxoxoxo

  33. It blows my mind that a group of people would dedicate so much of their time to harassing someone they hate. That’s just so unbelievably pathetic.

    Also you should maybe carry some pepper spray. We’ll call it “troll repellant.”

  34. So, the Body Acceptance movement has to deal with actual terrorists? It’s that what they call it when people try to intimidate or frighten others into behaving a certain way? It’s pretty damn scary that anyone would do something so creepy. Internet cowardice is one thing, but IRL stalking is a crime. I’m glad to hear that you’ve reported these loons, and even gladder to know that you’re not letting them stop you from living as you please.

  35. If I was less of a person, or as low as your Trolls, I would send my minions on them. Trolling them. Following them. Let them get a small taste of what it’s like. But Im not. And I know that one day, someday soon… Karma is going to be a real bitch and take care of them. Until them, you keep doing what you are doing. You fight on and you be the badass you strive to be.

  36. You are — as always — so awesome. I don’t normally read your IRONMAN blog because I couldn’t care less about those types of events, but wow, that sounds brutal even without added troll bullshit (and maybe it might actually be useful to train Clif-commercial-style if that is indeed normal). Sounds like just regular competitors can present a real danger at the start.

    I am sorry you didn’t make the time cutoff, but in my philosophy whether you qualify/win or not doesn’t matter a whole lot; I am not competitive. Whether you try to do something difficult, and give it your best, that’s what matters — it’s about inner courage. You did that; you stuck it out despite a bad start, and against further obstacles throughout the course — and you did it with superb sportsmanship and empathy to boot. I salute you. You are an inspiration.

    Your trolls and stalkers need a humanity implant since they apparently don’t have the normal amount. Decent human beings display empathy and encouragement for others, regardless of whether they agree on every point of life philosophy. Even if somebody believes that “obesity kills” and feels that advocating for size acceptance is akin to advertising for smoking (we know that’s a faulty assumption, but let’s just say IF), that is absolutely no excuse or justification for doxxing you on the net and for harassing you at an actual event. That is so far beyond the pale that I think even people who agree with that stance against obesity need to speak up and stop the extreme elements within their ranks. Rabid fundamentalism of any stripe is a character defect.

    The humane reaction to speech with which we disagree lies in thoughtful counter arguments, not harassment, stalking, or assault. Coincidentally, that’s also the method that reaches most people. I understand that some injustices make people angry, and sometimes it is justified and even called for (certainly when it comes to racism, for example), but still — we have proper outlets for angry speech as well, and stalking is NOT it.

    Aside from that, harassing somebody who’s fat AND participating in sports makes no sense whatsoever — heck, they claim us fatties should strive to become more fit, and you’re certainly doing that with all your athletic endeavours, so WHAT THE FUCK are they doing interfering? It instantly marks them as hypocrites.

    They don’t need a life, they need their heads set straight (possibly by the law, or maybe karma will do them that favour) so they come to realize just how badly they’re wasting their good fortune, their time, and their energy, and what sorry examples of human beings they are. There is so much work to be done on this planet, so many people in need of help, and this is what they choose to do instead? I can’t even imagine how deranged you have to be to think this is a good choice, not really.

    You just keep going on. You’re doing great, and you’re an inspiring example of a decent, real human being.

    1. I think that some of them are high on feeling righteous: fat people are a symptom of Everything Wrong Today and it is righteous to inform us and everybody else of how we need to stop existing. Plus if we keep insisting that the world is more complicated than Fat=Bad, No Fat=Good, we mess up their nice neat view of what’s wrong and how to fix it. Then you have the MRAs, who think that women they don’t want to screw who exist within their line of sight are existing at them and need to be stopped–and of course that any sign of disagreement from a woman is a personal attack.

  37. So, they’re not happy if you’re out there competing in athletic activities, but you can bet they’d be just as unhappy with you if you were sitting on your ass eating bon-bons all day.

    Must be nice to have nothing better to do with one’s life, than devote so much time paying attention to someone else who is LIVING their life.

  38. Oh, my goodness! Well, I’ve been off-line for a few days, and frankly, I’m glad I didn’t see any of this while it was happening. I would have been too horrified. I AM so glad that you got all that support in the moment, when you needed it most. All I can do now, is offer my on-going support and respect for you, and utter shame at humanity, that it contains so many cross-breeds with trolls, orcs, and possibly goblins.

    I know it’s exhausting for you, and I’m so proud of you for keeping your chin up, and fighting the good fight, especially because you’re helping so many of us who do not have your strength.

    Good luck, Ragen, and all the Jedi Internet Hugs!

  39. What a beautiful person you are. I am so sorry that people have the right to send you hateful comments and say awful things about you.

    Have you ever tried roller derby? Roller derby is so very diverse. It is truly one of the only sports I know of that is truly welcoming to all shapes and sizes!! I myself am a plus size beauty and I play in an upper level team in my roller derby league.

    Beautiful people like you are the reason that people like me are able to love ourselves. Good luck on your journey.

  40. God. What a bunch of psychos. So sorry you have to deal with them, but good job not letting the harassment scare you away from your very important work.

  41. Oh Ragen, I’m so sorry to hear of the awful things these idiots are doing to you. What small, prune-like, dried up, boring lives they must have!

    Stay strong.We stand with you. 🙂

  42. I never comment on anything anywhere, but I just really wanted you to know that I think you are AMAZING! Those people who are harrassing you are obviously sick in the head and need to get help. Stay strong!
    Love and admiration from someone on another continent 🙂

  43. I was rather shocked by the actions of these trolls.I think you did the right thing by discussing these incidents in detail on your blog. I was only dimly aware of the severity of insults that many fat women are forced to endure. Most other people are also uninformed. I hope that in your speaking engagements you talk about these and others with trolls revealing to ordinary people what is now hidden.

  44. They came with their cameras,
    they came with their shame,
    they came with their darkness,
    saying “she’ll never get up again.”

    But she stood up before them
    She stood there with pride
    Wearing the strength of the ages
    And nothing to hide.

    I am amazed at your strength in the face of such horrifying and despicable adversity. You are a strong, brave, beautiful person, and kudos to you for doing what you want, no matter what the assholes say. I really don’t know what motivates these people…I am also fat, and I have had unbelievable things said to me. I never, ever let it slide…precisely because of this kind of bullshit. It is NOT okay to shame us about our weight. I don’t know if I’d be able to do what you are doing…I am very impressed that you can. Keep fighting the fight, stay safe and stay as awesome as you are!!! 😊

  45. I am sorry that you were stalked that morning. I believe if you hadn’t been distracted by those “people” you would have made up the 2 minutes. Who are these people? I found out about you a year ago because a few people I know were discussing Ironman and someone said “check this out”. Not a facebook friend but a facebook friend of a friend. He was doing all of this ridiculous math trying to prove that you wouldn’t be able to do the watts needed to finish an IM (mass and speed). I thought “why in the hell does this guy care whether you finish our not? He is not in your age group or category. He will most likely be finished in 12 hours so he is unlikely to even see you. What is bugging him about you? I still have no idea but it is his problem. And his snide comments brought me to follow you and for that I am grateful. These haters and trolls may be trying to derail you but they are in fact making you stronger.
    Go Ragen!

  46. Could you sue them? Or get a restraining order? Based on their response to your friends taking pictures of them, lawsuits seem like something that might stop their harassment.

  47. Reading this, I realize that trolls engage in the ultimate self-defeating behavior. By engaging in trolling in the first place, they automatically lose. Why? Because this is what they spend their time doing. This is what they have to show for their effort. They are literally wasting their lives, while their victims are *living* theirs. They will never get any recognition for their efforts. Their efforts benefit no one and nothing. They make no contributions. They say and do nothing of value or interest. A troll dedicated time and money to show up at an event for the purpose of harassment. Think of all the other things they could have done with their time and money. And this is the one that kills me: while the trolls sat smugly laughing at Ragen for doing an Ironman, Ragen did a freaking Ironman. They are mocking her for something they could never do, and never even tried!
    I think we have to come up with a word besides “pathetic” to describe them, because it feels like they left pathetic behind a long time ago and have now sunk even further to a new kind of meaninglessness.
    Imagine how it would sound if someone asked a stalker troll what they did with their day. “Oh yeah I spent time and gas money to go harass this total stranger on the internet I don’t like.”
    They have nothing to be proud of while you have everything Ragen. Let them continue to commit suicide of their own souls. Their existence is punishment enough. They’re the ones who have to live with themselves.

    PS: I just finished reading “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. I highly recommend it, and if you can I would even consider hiring him!

  48. I read your post and all of the comments. There’s not much for me to add that others haven’t said more eloquently. But please just know I love you and your amazing partner, will always stand by you, and am horrified by the abuse heaped on you and your loved ones.

    I wish I could do something about this, wish I could shield you all from this. I’m always so proud of you for so valiantly standing up for the rights of the downtrodden. I know that elicits the ire, even the hatred, of those who are invested in and/or benefit from the unequal system. So yes, the harassment means you’re extremely effective and far-reaching. But that doesn’t mitigate the horror of people violating/threatening your space, your livelihood, and your safety.

    I am here with you and support you endlessly. I love you and your family. I am sorry.

  49. Ragen, thank-you so much for standing up and being a public face for all those who suffer weight discrimination in any form. You are the one who has to deal, day in and day out, with the constant attacks, and we benefit from your courage and strength. You are such an encouragement to keep going no matter what!!

  50. Oh my… I don’t know what to say. Sending virtual hugs to you and your family. I’m glad to see that you don’t let them change you, make you go into hiding. Keep up the good work for yourself and all the others. ❤

    Imagine what they could achieve if they'd put the effort to good use. *sigh*

  51. I don’t remember if I’ve commented here before, but I’ve been a long time reader. You’re one of my heroes, and this seems like as good a time as any to mention it. Thank you for sharing what you’re willing to share, and supportive thoughts towards dealing with the crap.

  52. Y’know, it’s one thing to stand there and say rude and hurtful things. It’s another to stalk someone and make them feel unsafe anywhere they go. That shit’s messed up and makes me want to bust some heads. And it’s not like you’re out there saying something really whackadoo, like the Westboro Baptist freakshows…you’re just existing. Jesus God.

  53. I am horrified for you. Please take some tentacly brain hugs. It is sickening that people have brought things to this level. This sick, sadistic, juvenile fucking level. I am glad you are taking actions and that you are letting not only your fan base know what you are going through but also letting the trolls know they will not win. You did a damn fine job at the ironman. Should you choose to do it again, I have no doubt you will continue to improve your times. Please be safe. I wish you and your family peace.


  54. Wow troll is no longer the appropriate term to describe this level of harassment! I am so sorry this is happening. Posts like this inspire me to voice support, just think of all the others who get treated like this and do not have a huge fan base to counterbalance the hate and bigotry. My love goes to you and to the nameless others facing this. What a world.

  55. I’m sorry you got pulled from finished the triathlon, but I’m damn proud of you for all the training and for completing that swim. It’s an amazing endeavor. Period.

  56. I recently had some stalking go from online to IRL and this post hit close to home. You are so much stronger than I am- I aspire to get to that level. Please help (maybe an older blog?) if you have time write a guide on what to do. Ignore them? Don’t read the comments? How do you keep the negativity from taking over your life and quitting?!? I wish I could get a hug. Thanks for writing this. I support you 100%.

  57. I have nothing to add beyond the words of encouragement you’ve already received. You are one of the sanest voices on the internet.

  58. Ragen, they may be the depths of humanity, but you are one of the peaks. I’m so very sorry that anybody thinks that any of their actions are in any way acceptable or even excusable. Please remember to care for yourself in times like this. You have done something so amazing, and make me want to find my limits and work towards a goal in both how I feel about my body and in how my body can work. Thank you for sharing your strength with us and some of your journey.

  59. Why people do this… because they have become part of a mob, and it’s all about status in their tiny little mob culture. One wished they’d have taken up cross-stitching or collecting beer mats instead. Instead they go virtual fox hunting with you as the fox because you were around and fulfilled some fox requirements (high visibility, no pack).

    It’s depressing. If you can sic law enforcement on their mutual appreciation society, go for it! And be safe: Mobs, like zombie hordes, might be lacking a brain to share between them, but that does not make them harmless.

    Also, you are utterly amazing and I stand in awe of your toughness and resilience, both in doing IM, in keeping up the good work, and in dealing with haters.

  60. Hi! The harassment and escalation you describe, including the assault during the swim, are so far beyond the line as to absolutely require legal action. Have you been working with the police about this? With cyberstalkers this nasty, there is zero chance you’re their only victim. Just possibly the most known, bold and not giving of #ucks. Please please please make an appointment with your local cyber-stalking unit and take copies of your documentation of the attacks.
    The more we stand strong and don’t report, the bolder they get.

  61. I surfed on it from a friend’s link. I have no idea who you are or what you stand for but I have witnessed this kind of assholish behaviour from the Reddit crowd. They’re like plagues of locusts that descend on people they disapprove of. It is beyond reprehensible. I would never take anything that crowd would say, whatever side of the political spectrum it is from. I wish you a lot of luck in your pursuit of the Ironman. Just the fact you’re TRYING to do it is admirable.

  62. I’ll admit it, I was curious. I went to the other website just to see how they could possibly explain their behavior (I mean, I think most rational people would agree that starting a website with the express purpose of targeting one human being isn’t normal, but surely they’re feeling a little sheepish, right?).

    I am amused (though sadly, not surprised) that the authors of the site are shocked and hurt that you’ve called them (and others) out on their crap. I mean, really, Ragen! How can you claim someone’s stalking you just because they attended a race event for the sole purpose of seeing you, photographing you, and subsequently harassing you online? And yeah, ok, there are 4chan and reddit forums dedicated to criticizing you, but only because they have an honest philosophical difference with you. Why can’t you understand that?

    It’s amazing, really, the alternate reality these folks are living in. The posts are breathtaking in their lack of self-awareness, and practically dripping with privilege. I’d say they were too stupid to be worthy of serious consideration, but unfortunately we’ve seen what happens when the worst of these kinds of trolls snap. Stay safe.

    1. I have been really curious as to how they are responding to this! I feel like we should do more to bring public awareness to how obsessive and pathetic these people are. I mean, sure, there are people I have philosophical disagreements with, some of them I even hate, but I don’t stalk them. I would never take time out of my life, and possibly pay travel money (even if it was just gas for a 20 min drive) to track them down in real life to take pictures of them or heckle them. Why? Because I’m not a loser with no one who loves me. Seriously, if these people had loved ones they actually cared about, or something of value to do with their time, they would not be able to justify using their time for something like this. And I think if we called this kind of behavior out for the pathetic thing it is maybe it would hold less draw for people. We ought to create a hashtag or something, like #standwithragen or #getalifestalkers or something. I don’t know if I have a hashtag knack, but I’d jump in on anything better if someone came up with it.
      Also, I’m curious if any media has contacted Ragen over this. I know when the makers of the documentary Fattitude started getting some extreme trolling they got some media coverage. Certainly this behavior is worthy of it.

  63. You continue to inspire me and help me love myself and my own health and fitness journey. THANK YOU. As for the trolls , I can’t even begin to imagine how insecure and worthless they must feel about themselves that they would go to such great lengths to troll and harass you in order to feel better about themselves. So glad you understand that and keep doing what you do – the world is a better place because it has you in it 🙂

  64. TBH, this is a whole new level of disturbing. But, sadly, it doesn’t surprise me. The amount of hate and the level to which the stalkers and haters go to is beyond belief – or would be beyond belief if I wasn’t a fat person living in our fat-people-hating, diet-culture-worshiping society. These people are afraid, you’re shaking things up and making them question the “everyone knows”, making them desperate to reinforce and hold onto the status quo and their beliefs in which they put so much of their time and energy into. They are afraid that maybe what they’ve put so much stock into, what they’ve put so much energy and time into believing is, in fact, a lie – and that makes them scared in deed. These stalkers are desperate zealots full of anger and fear.

    Thank you for your courage and strength! Through your work you give so many of us that courage and strength too. My life would have been a lot different if I hadn’t discovered your work and the work of a few other activists. My life has improved so much since discovering you! Thank you so much for all you do to help make things better for us. What you have to go through for it is insane, but knowing your doing the right thing makes me hopeful that someday you and people like you won’t have to endure this kind of thing.

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