If anyone reading this (either of you?) is familiar with Ragen over at Dances with Fat, you probably know that she has been training for an IRONMAN triathlon. This past weekend she did a test run, an IRONMAN 70.3 (which is half the distance of the main race), on the same course she’ll be on next year.
Why am I writing about someone else’s endeavors? Two reasons: first, it didn’t go well, and second, trolls.
The first point, that it didn’t go well, is an important one. It’s ok to fail. It’s even ok to fail at a physical endeavor when you’re fat. Really! I will let you read Ragen’s own words on the race at her blog, but I wanted to say that there is no shame in trying something new and having it go badly. Anyone who tries something new and challenges themselves is still a rock star in my eyes.
To the second point: trolls. Ragen has been dealing with them for years, but they have gotten virulently awful since she started training for the IRONMAN. They are sending the usual threats and nasty remarks, but it has gotten more personal. They have threatened to show up while she’s training or racing and physically hurt her.
And they did show up. Fortunately they didn’t harm her, but someone actually came to the race and took pictures of her, only to gleefully post them later and announce her DNF status.
I would assume most reasonable people would understand how this is not ok, and how it’s a level of creepy. Actually, creepy isn’t strong enough. This is harassment, plain and simple. Even if they did not engage with her there, and even if it was an event that’s open to the public, the fact remains that at least one person went there simply because she, a fat person who does not hate herself, was competing. Their intent was to belittle and humiliate her. Online after the fact, of course. I’m sure they don’t have the courage to face the consequences that come from doing anything in person.
But it only takes one deluded creature to carry something out IRL.
I’m not sure what the solution is. When all they do is mock and take photos, two legal activities, there isn’t really any recourse. I wouldn’t want people blocked from photographing their friends or family in a race because of these losers. But we need to make sure the world is aware that this happens, and that it is a direct result of a culture that prizes thinness and hates fat.
These people will lose eventually. Fat bodies will be normalized, people will accept that we don’t need to change, and we will triumph. But until then, we need to keep calling out scumbags, blocking them from interacting with us, and making sure our fellow fats are ok.