Troll Shows Exactly Why Article Was Necessary

Guinness Finish LineI’ve said before that I consider the number of trolls I have help to demonstrate why the work I do is important, and how effective I am at it. And much like, as Helen Lewis first stated in Lewis’ Law, “Comments on any articleabout feminism justify feminism,” comments on articles about size acceptance justify size acceptance. Recently a troll went out of their way to prove it.

Regular readers may remember that last year I finished my second marathon, setting the Guinness World Record for heaviest woman to complete a marathon. I used the information and experience I had gleaned to write a piece for the Better Humans platform called “Your Slow, Fat Marathon – How to complete a marathon regardless of your size or speed

Before we go any farther, a reminder that nobody of any size is obligated to participate in fitness of any kind, participating in fitness doesn’t make someone better than those who choose to do something else with their time – running a marathon and having a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent activities. My point is that everybody of every size who wants to participate should be welcome, and I wrote the article for those who may want to participate.

The piece received a really great reception and, of course, some concern troll comments, but there was one in particular that I found both hilarious, and illustrative of the pervasive nature of fatphobia and thin privilege:

As someone training for their first marathon, the advice here is terrible. Author was lucky not to seriously injure themselves! Don’t run a marathon if you’re seriously overweight and not willing to train properly.

Start with something at your skill level and build up to it. You wouldn’t hang a highschool student’s art in the louvre!

Let’s take this bit by bit.

As someone training for their first marathon, the advice here is terrible

This person, who has never toed the starting line of a marathon, let along crossed the finish line, feels that they know more than someone who has trained for and completed two. So much so that they actually chose to start their comment by proudly declaring that they have never completed a marathon. This is one of the ways that fatphobia is so insidious, the idea that being thinner than someone else makes someone more of an expert, regardless of experience or knowledge.

The article I wrote gives advice on a wide variety of topics from deciding if marathoning is for you, to choosing a race, training plan, clothes, and what do to on race day. While this commenter dismisses the advice as “terrible” they don’t address any of the actual advice. What about my advice is terrible? Do they think you should train wearing all cotton clothes? Do they think it’s a good idea to train on pancake flat paved trails and then do a trail marathon in the Rocky Mountains? Do they think you should start out your marathon with a wild sprint? For all we know, this person is two training runs into their marathon program which is fine, but does not an expert make.

Author was lucky not to seriously injure themselves!

This is a version of the VFHT (Vague Future Health Threat,) except instead of trying to use the specter of future health issues to enforce fatphobia (which is also healthist) to try to control the decisions of fat people, this person is using what could have happened to try to control the decisions of fat people. While it wasn’t a serious injury, I tore a ligament in my second marathon owing to the fact that it was much hillier than I expected and I had trained on pancake flat trails (a mistake I made that I talk about in the article.)

While I certainly hope they don’t, for all we know, this commenter will get injured if they ever actually do a marathon. Plenty of people have ligament tears and other injuries while training for and completing marathons, but – as usual – when it happens in thin people it’s seen as an acceptable risk, when it happens in fat people it’s seen as a reason that we shouldn’t participate. That’s bullshit.

Don’t run a marathon if you’re seriously overweight and not willing to train properly.

Let’s be clear that “seriously overweight” is not a thing. Over what weight? Should people who are “seriously over-tall” also take a pass? People come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons, all of us get to choose what we want to do with our bodies.

Can you imagine having never done something but still feeling like you can and should definitively tell others whether or not they should do it? This person will just have to hope that a seriously over-exaggerated sense of self-importance doesn’t cause leg cramps if they want to get through their race.

I also can’t tell you how many thin people I’ve heard brag to each other about completing marathons despite not having trained properly, and absolutely nobody – let alone someone who hadn’t ever completed a marathon – jumped in to tell them that they shouldn’t have done it. Yet another big, fat double standard.

Start with something at your skill level and build up to it. You wouldn’t hang a highschool student’s art in the louvre!

Apparently, this person is also an expert on art? Ignoring the fact that you would hang a high school student’s art in the Louvre if it was good enough, this last bit shows just how little this person understands about marathoning.

A marathon is not the Louvre. A marathon is a distance that thousands of people of varying sizes, ages, and abilities decide to travel for almost as many reasons as there are participants. I’m willing to bet that this person – should they ever actually complete a marathon (and good luck to them!) – will not come close to winning, but will feel that they deserve to participate in a marathon, while those who are slower and or heavier should start with something at their “skill level.”

Not to mention that assuming that fat people’s skill level doesn’t include a marathon, assuming that fat people who are attempting a marathon haven’t done shorter races, and comparing completing a marathon to having your art hung in one of the most prestigious galleries in the world all clearly demonstrate that, even if this person had ever managed to complete a marathon, they are no kind of expert.

I do want to thank this commenter for, however inadvertently, helping me demonstrate the need for the article I wrote. For those of us who are fat, or slow, or fat and slow, walkers, runners, and rollers who want to participate in events from 5Ks to marathons, the sad truth is that we may have to deal with people like this. The good news is that we don’t have to listen to them.

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12 thoughts on “Troll Shows Exactly Why Article Was Necessary

  1. Oh my goodness but do I understand. I don’t engage in fitness, but I deal with this concept in dealing with sexism all the time.

    Me: That’s Sexist
    Dude: Not Sexist. Sexism is…
    Me: That’s Mansplaining.
    Dude. Not Mansplaining. Mansplaining is…

    Irony loop engaged.

  2. Love this article, and congratulations, I always think a person that has the commitment to run a marathon, is amazing to me, its a shame the world is full of idiots who can’t just accept people what ever size, shape, color, sexual orinentation, what a lovely world it would be if they could.

  3. Everything post of yours that I read makes me feel stronger in my size acceptance for myself and others. Of all the things I’ve done in my life to try to deal with my messed up thinking about fat and bodies, following you, Ragen, is the winner. If only you knew what joy you have given me. I don’t let my fat hold me back from life anymore. I began reading your blog almost 6 years ago. Marathons aren’t my thing, but gardening is. You have led me to do my life at my speed in my way. There are no rules but my undies. Thank you. Great article, great blog, great person ♥️♥️♥️

  4. I love your article and am soooooo grateful for your writing it:) it’s sad we have to learn how to deal with negative comments but I love how you address them so well!!!!!!!! Thank you thank you and keep up the awesome sharing, it’s great!

  5. “running a marathon and having a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent activities”

    Yes! I loved the whole article but wanted thank you for this particular line. I love it and will probably use it myself.

  6. I just read the excellent linked article. And then I read the comments. Massive heaping helpings of ‘did not actually take anything in that the author said, just regurgitating Everybody Knows stuff about weight,’ along with a lot of well-earned accolades. The person who took exception to your (delightful) statement that a marathon and a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent (“one is clearly more virtuous than the other”) was nicely balanced by the person who was moved by the same statement.

    I really needed that article just now, as two of my coworkers have been training for a half-marathon (which they ran today, and I’m delighted for them) and I got rather tired of their dedication being worshiped like they were fixing climate change.

    1. But is a half-marathon and a Netflix half-marathon morally equivalent?

      What would constitute a Netflix half-marathon, anyway? You stop watching each episode halfway through?

      Seriously, I LOVE that statement, too. Ragen’s that is. Exercise is certainly good for you, but that doesn’t make it “moral,” any more than broccoli is “moral.” And if you’re binge-watching truly uplifting shows (maybe watching re-runs of your favorite online preacher?), then it IS good for you. Because it is uplifting you! Or maybe educating you (if you’re watching educational stuff), or maybe it’s pain management without the drugs, or maybe it’s encouraging you to be a better, kinder, less judgemental person, by watching better, kinder, less judgemental people demonstrate how they got to be that way. I mean, there is LOTS of good stuff on Netflix, you know?

      1. I hate how some people diss time spent playing video games or watching TV as thought it is a waste. Some people have told me and I myself have used both of those as ways to cope with troubles. Using what you have to cope with emotional or physical pain is a super-good idea.

  7. “not willing to train properly.”

    Did this troll just skip the part where you said how you trained? Or was the training you trained not “proper”? Maybe you should have trained while carrying a teacup in one hand, with your pinky extended, and twirling a parasol the other, while holding a book on your head, and saying, “Please and thank you” to everyone within earshot?

    Or, perhaps, the troll simply ASSUMED that because you are fat, and were fat at the time you did the marathon, that you must not have trained, because *obviously,* if you trained for a marathon, you would be thin.

    I loved how the Guinness Book of World Records posted your weight at the start of the race and at the end. You lost not even a third of a kilo, after going over 25 miles! But, that’s unpossible! EVERYBODY knows that when a fat person walks further than the distance between their couch and their fridge that the fat “just melts away.” Hence the phrase, “Just lose weight.”

    That’s the part that bothered me most about this. Even after proving that you HAVE exercised, they still claim you didn’t. Why? Because you are fat. Ugh.

    Also, super congrats, Ragen! And I hope you inspire plenty of people to compete in marathons, and I hope your record is broken soon, and that record gets broken, and that record gets broken…

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