I wrote this while sitting in Prospect Park after my first Couch to 5K workout. See, a few days ago, I couldn’t fall asleep and, for some reason, I decided to sign up for a 5K in October.
I don’t make great decisions at 1:30 in the morning.
Nevertheless, I paid the fee, so I’m gonna train and do it. So here we are, in Prospect Park, coughing due to some combination of the running, the pollen, and the rude old man who lit a cigarette upwind of me. I just finished week 1, day 1, which sounds like an easy workout on paper. It is not, at least not when you’re: a) out of running shape, and b) inadvertently going uphill. But I did it.
Unfortunately, while I was on the 5th or so run interval, I looked up at a woman passing me on a bike. She said something. I don’t know what she said, but unless she was complimenting my awesome shirt, I don’t want to hear it.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of stories out thereof fat people being harassed while exercising. There are as many stories about people shouting “encouragement” as well.
If I had to guess, that’s what this was. Obviously I don’t know for sure, but I can speculate. And if that’s what it was, I don’t want it.
When you try to encourage a fat person exercising in public, you are perpetuating sizeism. You are operating under the assumption that we need encouragement. You may very well be assuming we are trying to lose weight (I am not). You are likely assuming we are new at whatever form of exercise we are doing. In this case, yes, I’m new at running, but that doesn’t mean I need a thumbs up. What I need is to be left alone, so I can work out and suffer in peace. I’m already self-conscious when I exercise in public, so the last thing I want is for anyone to acknowledge they can see me. And if I’m swimming or doing yoga or something else I’m more experienced at, your words of “encouragement” that assume I’m just starting out are massively condescending.
Don’t shout things at people on the street. Ever. When someone is exercising? Don’t correct their form unless you’re their coach, or they ask for help. And don’t cheer someone on unless you’re watching a race. Leave people alone, especially during a workout.
This post originally appeared on fatgirlbrooklyn.