The title of this blog comes from a chapbook I began writing in 2017 with hopes to release late 2019, early 2020. It is a rhetorical question that does not seek to be answered. Especially by those who have not lived in the bodies of those who identify as fat.
run /run/ verb – never having both or all feet on the ground at the same time
This book is a small collection of experiences as a fat girl. To answer the question your eyes glanced at on the front of this cover. To center the idea of never having both feet touch the ground at the same time. This is a reality that many think never exists for us. A moment to flee, as no one is said to be in a constant state of running. An idea that challenges the thought of living in a world where both feet never touch the ground is impossible. Running is a reality for me. For us. For fat girls. We run. We run with the hope to lift from the reality that people on Earth say we can never escape. The oxymoron of fat-girls running is shattered.
Watch us run.
I want to take this working document and its title from 2017 and bring it “up to speed”. Recently, a Nike store in the UK decided to include the bodies of those who identify as plus size to their athletic empire. This message received support and discrimination to say the least. However, The Telegraph decided to repost the thoughts of Tanya Gold who wrote “[The mannequin] is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of Nike?” This statement alone lets me and hundreds of others know that her ability to understand size does not determine health or athleticism, is nonexistent.
“[The mannequin] is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of Nike?”
The negative statements made by Gold and others, continues to perpetuate the oppressive narrative that bigger bodies of society are limited by their size. This fat-phobic and shaming tactic stops here. In my line of work and research, I intentionally create space for the fat bodies the world continues to question. The questioning of our abilities, desirability, intelligence, and more will no longer be tolerated. As an effort to check Gold like a Nike symbol, I provide examples of plus size women who are athletes in every sense. They have the right to athletic apparel. They have the right to move in their bodies as is without false praise or criticism. They have the right to be a person of size with no desire to only work-out in order to be small. They do not owe it to anyone to shrink themselves to achieve mobility and joy. These bodies are worthy. These bodies are enough. What you see on the mannequin at this Nike location is representation of an athlete the world has ignored long enough.
The Bionic Ballerina – Madison Zada
I met The Bionic Ballerina over a year ago, as she shared her story about challenging the world of dance and the deeply rooted Eurocentric beauty standard associated with size. Madison was told her body was “too large” to perform. With the support of her mother, they took this narrative and turned it on its head. Madison added wooden blocks for additional support to her pointe shoes (which further limits who has the ability to show up in these spaces because of the lack of accessible attire) and danced her way to a Disney scholarship. She received multiple forms of support and praise from the dancing community while challenging what it means to be a ballerina. Through dance and performance, Madison continues to show bigger bodies are deserving AND dancers.
Learn more by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/thebionicballerina/
Running Fat Chef – LaToya Shauntay Snell
LaToya is the GOAT. Dubbed the Running Fat Chef, I virtually met LaToya via an interview I conducted with her after she went viral for running in a New York marathon. This woman is the epitome of fierce and one not to be f*cked with. As a runner, she encountered heckling from a man in the crowd who decided that his time as an observer, as he WATCHED her run, gave him the right to question her abilities. Fast forward two years later, LaToya has ran multiple marathons including one in Paris, France. Many question how a woman of her size continues to be athletic when her body does not “read” athleticism. She sports stretch marks, cellulite, and a larger body with ease as a professional runner. This continues to shatter the narrative that we are not worthy or moments away from a “hip replacement”.
Learn more by visiting: https://www.runningfatchef.com
Plus Size Fitness Model – Keive Gordon
This Georgia native decided she wanted to train and become toned, not small. She recognizes that weight loss comes with exercise but she also notes that she will never be a “slender” body. I recently met with Keive in Decatur, GA as she received support from her trainer. She pushed herself during the intense 60 minute session, proving that her abilities are not limited to her size. She reminds the world that health is at the center of her life, along with other bigger bodies but her desire to fit a particular image is not.
Learn more by visiting: https://www.instagram.com/eye_am_keive/?hl=en
Fat Girls Dance – Cathleen Meredith
Some do not consider dancing a sport or athletic. But, I challenge someone who does not dance to perform new and intense choreography every week for a year. Cathleen Meredith did just that. She spoke with friends and asked if learning a new dance each week was possible and they quickly responded “yes”. The rest is HERstory. Meredith started the movement Fat Girls Dance and showed the world that our bodies can move, live, and thrive without the need of shrinking. Cathleen has worked with health professionals at The Ohio State University to shatter this misconceptions about the health of bigger bodies, organizations like Dove, and the extraordinary writer/producer Shonda Rhimes. Cathleen and the women who dance with her reminds fat/plus size/big/curvy bodies that their abilities to dance are not dependent on the world’s permission or perceptions.
Learn more by visiting: https://fatgirlsdance.com
Each of these stories have unique qualities and different impacts on the world. These fat bodies come in varying sizes and abilities. However, this is a call to both Tanya Gold and The Telegraph to make sure you fact check before you report generalized statements. There are a plethora of narratives similar to the ones mentioned here. A plus size mannequin doesn’t sell dangerous lies to women, it shares realistic narratives and representation.
The answer to do fat girls run? Yes. We run, dance, live, scream, cry, and so much more. As these bodies continue to move, shatter barriers and historical misconceptions, we are pulling away from the negative constructions casted on us. Gold’s response is embedded in white supremacy of what is acceptable, who is worthy, and the idea of producing controlling narratives. We are constantly living to kill the noise related to who we are. However, I see us. We see us. Now you all will see us. Holistically.
Tonya, don’t talk Nike shit if you’re not ready to be checked.