Fatty On The Track

You may have read the article about a surprising facebook post to an overweight runner, but you may not have read the hypothetical runner’s response by Tony Posnanski - found further down in the blog. Here is the original facebook post: fattyonthetrack I get that the first part of the post is supposed to be from the person running’s point of view, that it’s an assumption of perceived opinions, although a lot of people who didn’t make this connection (and even some who did) were pretty taken aback by the term “fatty” and just the general disparaging tone. Then of course the second part is supposed to be the uplifting reality of the commentator’s opinion. There is a big split on whether this is a condescending backhanded compliment, or an actual piece of inspirational motivation. Tony Posnanski is a blogger for Huffington Post who has detailed his own weight loss journey though blogs, and his response is pretty much the best accumulation of people’s issues with the facebook post. It comes across as condescending rather than uplifting, assumptive of the runner’s life, and generally a lot like a humblebrag – “look how great I am for appreciating a lesser person than myself.” In Posnanski’s response he states that his journey didn’t start 12 days ago, it started a year ago, and since then he’s lost 200lbs. He counters the posters assumptions about fat people’s habits, i.e. drinking beer and midnight snacks, saying that the commenter can’t have respect for his journey because he doesn’t know it. Here is the response:
"To the man who judged me on the Westview track,

I see that you wrote a Facebook status about my journey and me. It described me on the track and from what I gather it was supposed to inspire after a little insult. It went viral.

So let me tell you what I think of your post…

First off I would suggest you not judge me at all. You have my journey all messed up. My journey did not start twelve days ago. It started over a year ago. You see me at 300 pounds but what you do not know is I was over 400 pounds. You did not know this because I was embarrassed to run in front of other people. So I would come to this track when no one else was around. Sometimes I would go for a couple of minutes. Sometimes I would go for four minutes. It all started when I went for 48 seconds my first time running. Yes, I timed it. Yes I was upset. And yes, I promised it would never happen again.

When I was over 400 pounds and decided to make the commitment to change my life I would wake up and look in the mirror. I would find at least 100 negative things about my body. All the descriptions you made about me…I was even harder on myself.

Then after losing a few pounds I looked in the mirror again. I did not look at my body. I looked in my eyes. I saw determination and character. I saw a man who did not want to be an inspiration for others but one for himself. I was that man.

Your whole post insults me like no end. I do not eat midnight snacks or drink beer. You probably think all "fat" people do this. Well, we do not. I ate better than most at 300 pounds. In fact, I have not had a drink in well over 20 years.

I look down because I see you stare at me all the time. I do not want to give you the satisfaction of looking into my eyes. There are people who were supporting me all along. Not people who made up fictional parts of my life.

I also do not listen to music because I hear everything. I hear the laughter and I hear the snickers. They are never about me except they always are. I have been overweight my whole life. I have not had my blinders on for some time.

There are no mantras going through my head. When I run it is clear. I have no anger or happiness. I am there to complete a task. I am good at that.

You fooled people on Facebook but you have not fooled me. You do not have respect for my journey because you do not know it. I have told my story to thousands of people. I have been told that I have inspired many as well. Not because of the way I run but because of the person I am. Not because of my 200 pound weight loss but because of the words that I have had inside for years.

Many of us have been that person being judged and then twirled into some weird inspirational story. I was judged at the gym at 400 pounds. I was laughed at in Panera at 350 pounds. I was embarrassed at 300 pounds and honestly I was the same person at 195 pounds as I was at 420 pounds.

I tell people now that weight loss should not make you love yourself more. That is the mistake I made.

So next time you look at me on that track do yourself a favor. Look away. I do not look like I once did. I do not want to be your inspiration or your motivation.

I am a runner. I was a runner at 420 pounds and I am a runner today.

And runners do one thing.

They run. Not write about other runners.


Tony Posnanski"

He ends his response with this:
I am a runner. I was a runner at 420 pounds and I am a runner today. And runners do one thing. They run. Not write about other runners.
I definitely agree with those arguments against the original facebook post, but I think it’s vital to keep in mind that the poster is not coming from a place of malice, just misguided positive support. It’s human nature to notice and judge other people, and at least this is a positive observation. It’s important to realize the problems with this type of “inspiration” but keep the sentiment the same – supporting each other’s journeys, giving credit where credit is due, and generally celebrating the good qualities of anyone, whether it’s a friend or a complete stranger.  

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