When size 18 Lindsey Swift decided she wanted to get a bit healthier, like many of us, she started running. At first she was jogging in quiet parks and lakes while she built up the confidence to work out in public. Then, a couple of weeks ago, she plucked up the courage to run along the road.
I thought that’s really wrong, and if he did it to anyone else, that could put then off running
It was during this run, near her home in Barnsley, that a van driver leaned out of the window and ‘fat-shamed’ her, singing Mika’s Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).
Lindsey described the comment as humiliating and embarrassing, telling The Telegraph: “The longer I thought about it, the more I thought that’s really wrong, and if he did it to anyone else, that could put then off running.
“People feel like they have a right to comment on people’s bodies. People say I don’t look healthy and my response is, I know that.
“What’s constructive about telling me that? What’s the point in telling a large woman she’s fat when she’s running? She knows she’s fat – that’s why she’s running. They think that they’re helping by giving you this criticism, when actually it can be really harmful and discouraging.”
What’s the point in telling a large woman she’s fat when she’s running? She knows she’s fat – that’s why she’s running
So instead of doing nothing or hurling back abuse, Lindsey decided to write an open letter to the van driver on Facebook, explaining how he’d made her feel. It went viral with more than 26,000 shares.
Read Lindsey’s letter below:
Lindsey’s open letter
“To the idiot who thought it was ok to heckle me with fat jokes on my run yesterday,
“Your comment was a clear indication of both your incredibly witty repartee and a feat of observational comedy. I am indeed a big girl, and I am indeed beautiful. Thanks for noticing. I’m not sure who you were telling I was fat, you clearly have eyes, and the only other people present were me and my boyfriend. I assure you that despite your concern I do own a mirror, and my boyfriend has seen my fat body as he too has eyes. Don’t tell anyone but I think he might even like it.
I assure you that despite your concern I do own a mirror, and my boyfriend has seen my fat body as he too has eyes. Don’t tell anyone but I think he might even like it
“Normally I don’t get militant about these things, idiots are idiots. However, I can see why comments like these might put a person less confident than me off from running, and that is shameful. Everyone starts somewhere.
“Let me make one thing very clear, I am not ashamed of my body. It has never stopped me from doing anything I want. My fat body has done things that you, hanging out of the window of your babe-magnet white van could only ever dream of. My fat body has been swimming in crystal clear Thai seas that you have probably only ever seen on TV. It has lived in countries you wouldn’t dream of visiting and been a part of cultures you are too small minded to appreciate. My fat legs have carried me up mountains on more than one occasion. My fat brain speaks languages you probably don’t see the point of learning, which is why you spend your time hanging out of van windows since you have nothing better to occupy it with.
I have a goal to run 10k, and I will get there. I’m a stone lighter than I was, and can do a whole host of things I couldn’t do before
“Recently I made the decision to get fit as I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and good for my health. Not that I have to justify my body to you, but I have a goal to run 10k, and I will get there. I’m a stone lighter than I was, and can do a whole host of things I couldn’t do before. It baffles me that anyone would try to discourage that kind of effort. Excuse me if my assumptions about you are wrong, but I only have your actions to go by. If my fat arse running (quite slowly I might add, I was bloody shattered) offends you and spoils your journey, try driving with your eyes closed, into a lamp post.
“But in all seriousness, now I have written this, I feel sorry for you. Your behaviour is not normal, and your manners are well below par. Most importantly though, I forgive you. Here’s hoping that anyone with a goal, fat or thin, isn’t put off by this kind of thing. I know I haven’t been.
“Engage your brain before opening your mouth.”
What do you think? Have you been heckled while running? How do you deal with it? Comment below.