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Drive-By Chickens —

June 27, 2013

Trigger warning: Hateful dickweeds ahead, but all links are safe and lead to images, rather than the dens of douchebags.

Something that has flummoxed me from the beginning of my time writing the intersecting issues of weight and health is the fact that there is a subset of people out there who simultaneously demand that all fat people get off their lazy asses and that they not look fat while doing so.

We’ve had a lot of readers over the years who have shared some version of drive-by harassment while exercising in public. They’re going for a walk around the neighborhood — maybe for fun, maybe to be healthy — only to have dudebros drive by and scream “FATASS!!!”

Fear of public humiliation drives many fat people into hiding. They stop going for walks, they stop going to the gym, they stop being active, all because they’ve been devastated by harassment from some anonymous assholes with an inexplicable compulsion to debase those perceived as inferior or weak.

Intellectually, we know that they do this because there’s something wrong with them. Maybe they loathe themselves and need to spread that loathing like a virus to feel better. Maybe their parents ignored them as children and this is the only way they know how to get attention. Maybe they’re sociopaths. Whatever the case, it’s not your job to understand them, let alone cure them of their curdled souls.

And yet, even though we know that normal, rational, healthy people don’t go around screaming at fat people, the fact is that insults hurled from a passing car still hurt. Accepting that they’re terrible assholes isn’t enough to dull the sting of random acts of cruelty. So, the big question is how do we cope with a world where a handful of spiteful bastards are hell-bent on making your miserable?

I first covered the topic of trolls by offering four ways to respond:

We can either ignore them, avoid them, fight them or rise above them. The first two work fairly well, in my opinion. Once assholes get bored with you, they leave you alone. And if you choose to fight them, you may find it cathartic to verbally shredding assholes (as I have in the past), but it only encourages them to return with more of their buddies. Like zombies, it’s not a single asshole that wears you down, it’s the shuffling hordes that ultimately overwhelm you.

The best place to be, honestly, is to rise above them. But how?

I found a clue the following week, when I wrote this post responding to reddit trolls who are livid that some fat people refer to themselves as athletes. They believe that only people who achieve a certain level of skill should be allowed to call themselves athletes. I found this standard arbitrary and discouraging:

To say that the only people who get to call themselves athletes are the strongest/fastest/best in their class is some elitist fucking bullshit. And it’s the kind of elitist fucking bullshit that intimidates people from pursuing any kind of athletic goals at all.

As a result, some trolls said that letting anyone call themselves an “athlete” renders the word meaningless, as though the word “athlete” is a currency that fat people are devaluing. Others claimed that allowing anyone to call themselves an athlete encourages mediocrity in society, as though fat people who exercise makes fitness passé. One troll equated self-identifying as an athlete with self-identifying as an Olympic athlete.

And then there’s this guy:

My Heartrate

First off, I want to point out that H3st added a bracketed section to one of my question, making it look like I said the Stairmaster was harder at the same heart rate as the elliptical, which I never wrote. The Stairmaster I used didn’t have a heart rate monitor attached, so I can’t track my heart rate, but it was definitely higher. How Steven Blair described the difference between moderate and vigorous exercise is based on breathing, not heart rate. He told me that during moderate exercise, you should be breathing heavy, but able to hold a conversation; with vigorous, you should be breathing heavy and unable to carry a conversation. Based on his guideines, I had been doing moderate exercise on the elliptical, but the Stairmaster was vigorous with significantly elevated heart rate.

But what I want to point out in this particular post is that H3st says, “Ain’t nothing wrong with being an amateur.” An amateur what, though?

You see, the English language has these amazing things called “modifiers” that you can put in front of words to qualify the definition. For example, you can be a professional athlete or an amateur athlete, a good athlete or a bad athlete, or maybe even a fathlete. Calling yourself an athlete does not automatically convey skill along with it. You’re an athlete because you train to improve your skills, not because you meet some randomly-determined skill level.

But that’s how these assholes act: like they’re part of a club and if fat people try to force their way into their club, then they’re leaving. It’s this arrogant, entitled attitude that makes them dismiss any and all efforts made by fat people, even though yesterday they were whinging that fatties are lazy. So, rather than encourage fat people to train in the pursuit of athletic improvement, they heap scorn on the fathletes because, quite frankly, they don’t like fat people.

It has nothing to do with health, it has nothing to do with athletics, it has nothing to do with anything other than how you look.

For some seriously fucked up people, the fact that your body is fat negates any value you have, whether you’re training for marathons or couchbound with Ben and Jerry. And if you’re thin, your body has added value, whether you’re training for marathons or couchbound with Ben and Jerry.

I hadn’t intended for those two posts to be related, but when the reddit trolls had a spaz attack over my second post, I knew I had to write a third, final post that examines the illogical motivations that explains the sadistic rageboner trolls from insulting anything and everything fat people do.

When I shared the second post on the Body Acceptance subreddit, trolls began voting it down in droves. In the end, 69 people upvoted, while 81 downvoted. They also downvoted every comment so that anyone who tried to discuss the subject were semi-silenced. To put that in perspective, my James Gandolfini post, which pissed some trolls off, had 20 upvotes and 18 downvotes. Something about that second post about the world “athlete” really pissed them off. More than usual.

But what was it?

Their comments made it pretty damned clear: in the second half of my post, I shared the fact that I’m training to do a vertical marathon next March, and my goal is to be able to climb 40 flights of stairs in 10-11 minutes. I talked about how I began on a Stairmaster and how much harder climbing stairs was than using the elliptical. I talked about how it kicked my ass even more when I started climbing real stairs. And finally, one month ago, I said that at that point in my training I was able to climb eight flights in about two minutes.

The fact that I was training to climb stairs seemed to really bother them. People were laughing at how hard it was for me to do five flights and how out of breath I was. They were zeroing in on what a failure I was for not being able to sprint up the stairs from day one.

Then, a week after my post, Jen wrote about her first 5k and how excited she was. She written a few months back about her Couch-to-5k program and how much she enjoyed it. Now that she finished her first run, she said she couldn’t wait to do another, and she later informed me that she’s signing up for an 8k.

Logically, you would think that all these people who typically admonish us for being lazy bastards would be thrilled that a fat person was actually exercising. You would think that the haters would cut some stereotypical Good Fatties some slack.

You’d be wrong.

Some of the trolls were relatively easy on Jen, but there were quite a few who basically said that her finishing time for her first 5k was not good enough.

Could Have Done Worse

You’ll notice the last comment mentions Ragen’s recent 5k. Ragen’s 5k has really stuck in the craw of these assholes because Ragen has previously called herself an “athlete,” but she did not train for the 5k. In her post, Ragen made it explicitly clear that she wasn’t an athletic runner. She was participating in the 5k with her burlesque troop for fun:

I’m not naturally good at this type of running and I didn’t train hard so of course it’s not a shocker that I wasn’t very good, but I was surprised at how bothered I was by that.  I’m going to make an effort to try more new things, things to which I don’t seem particularly well suited, and things where I might be the worst.

Despite this huge caveat, Ragen has been raked over the coals by reddit trolls because she calls herself athletic and that didn’t translate into her being a good runner. Because of their inability to distinguish between Ragen calling herself athletic and Ragen walking a 5k she didn’t train for, one dim troll seems to think I’m saying that Ragen isn’t an athlete.

I’ve been friends with Ragen for a while now and I definitely think she’s an athlete. She focuses on what she calls the “pillars of athleticism”: strength, stamina, flexibility, and technique, at whatever level they happen to be. Ragen trains in all four areas. As a result, she can press 1,000 pounds with her legs, and she does high-intensity interval training and advanced Pilates.

“But doesn’t this mean she should be able to run a 5k?”

Not necessarily.

When you train for a specific sport, you’re teaching your body how to do it better and you’re strengthening the specific muscle groups that will help you improve your skills over time. As I explained in my last post, training doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become the best at a sport, but it does mean you’ll improve your own personal skills.

In athletics, how you compare to others is just one metric for determining success, but the most important metric is how you compare to yourself at the beginning of your training.

So, even though I’ve been walking the treadmill for three years now, when I switched to the stairs, it was a more intense workout for my legs. For some reason, this simple fact eluded the trolls as they worked themselves into a lather.

Some had a hard time understanding the difference between five flights and five stairs (yes, I’m that fat that five stairs and I’m totally drenched and winded). Others reasoned that by virtue of the fact that I dared admit to breathing heavy and sweating after five flights, I was clearly out of shape. In this thread, I responded sarcastically to the idiotic attacks by pointing out that my experience with five flights was during the first few weeks of my training. And, of course, there was speculation that if I did actually was “putting in the effort to be athletic” I would lose weight.

All of this dismissiveness, all of this hostility is aimed at me because I just started climbing stairs and I wasn’t instantly sprinting up 40 flights. And odds are, even if I was able to sprint up 40 flights, somebody would be saying, “Yeah, but he was sweating the whole time!”

If I were more sensitive to the opinions of assholes, I might have felt discouraged by their irrational rants. I might have given up, as so many fat people understandably do when treated like this in real life. It’s hard not to let their words burrow under your skin to fester. The only thing that allows me to read their comments with a smile on my face is the fact that I know that they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

I’ve continued my training at work and I have gradually strengthened my strength and stamina. As a result, I can now climb 20 flights of stairs in 5 minutes and 30 seconds, putting me halfway to my goal with nine months to go. And I’m going to continue training, regardless of what a bunch of meaningless assholes have to say about.

There’s a reason these dickweeds are willing to say this shit to you and me: there are no consequences. Driving in a car, I can yell shit at anyone walking down the street and they most likely won’t be able to confront me. On reddit, you can create a thousand different identities to say shit you wouldn’t have the courage to say face-to-face. After this post, they’ll say they would and they’ll give examples of times they’ve told a fat person how terribly fat they are, but they haven’t. This online shit is just some role they play to fill the abyss consuming their lives.

For example, the other day Golda Poretsky got a Tweet from this asshole:


You can read the full encounter in this Storify, and I highly recommend it, because after this “radio show host” with 50,000 followers called Golda an “obese pig,” I unleashed a torrent of abuse on him that was so cruel and so hurtful that badass Mike David actually blocked me. Again, you can see it all go down in this Storify.

The difference between Mike David and the trolls from reddit is that David actually has a vested interest in being the head troll. He’s got fans to Bop Bagimpress and his image depends on him being the toughest asshole in the room. So when it’s easy to insult and degrade someone, he takes his shot. But when he’s outgunned, he’s gotta hide because he doesn’t want to be publicly  humiliated in front of his audience.

And that’s why trolls do what they do: they yell out car windows because there are no consequences. And as long as they can hide behind the firewall, they’ll take their shots at those they perceive to be vulnerable. Online, they can be like those inflatable punching bags that bounce back no matter how hard you hit them. But rest assured that if you could confront them in real life, they would run and hide like the cowards that they are.

I want to leave you with some words from a song to encourage you when the trolls get to be too much, whether online or in real life. When people yell at you from passing cars, remember that their words are meaningless. They say hateful shit because they are fucked up, not you.

She said life’s too short to worry
Life’s too long to wait
Too short not to love everybody
Life’s too long to hate
I meet a lot of men who haggle and finagle all the time
Trying to save a nickel or make a dime
Not me, no sireee, I ain’t got the time

36 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2013 11:41 pm

    Firstly, it’s one of the few times I’m glad that autism has given me some processing difficulties, because if someone has ever yelled anything at me while I’m outside rollerblading, I have not heard it. Even if they did, I’d just hear gibberish.

    That said, I can say at this point in my life that generally, I hate most people. Most people are stupid, mean, or bigoted in some way, and none of them seem to be willing to learn. The people that I find who seem to be worth their salt are people I keep very close to me. People outside that circle mean literally nothing to me. They’re non-entities. I’m happier that way. My younger years were spent obsessed with what others thought of me. I got tired of that shit real quick.

  2. Cherry Thigh permalink
    June 28, 2013 12:40 am

    What’s a firewall and how do these troll people hide behind it?

  3. vesta44 permalink
    June 28, 2013 1:25 am

    CC – I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’ve learned over the years that the more I know about people, the better I like my cats. For a lot of years, I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t like most of the people I met, that it was my fault I thought they were stupid, or mean, or hatefully bigoted. But as I got older, I realized that the fault wasn’t mine, the fault was with those stupid, mean, bigoted people who had so little self esteem that they just had to make everyone else as miserable as they were. Once I realized that, it was relatively easy to write them off as lost causes and ignore their hatefulness. That, and the fact that I’ve always been a perverse sort of person has made my life a whole lot easier (tell me I can’t do something, and if it’s something I want to do, you just guaranteed I will do it).

    Shannon – those self-righteous “athletes” on reddit? They want to think they’re the only special snowflakes in the world, and that because they’re either thin or muscular, or both, and are so “good” at whatever it is they do, it would just ruin their “specialness” to allow anyone else to claim a title that they think belongs only to them and their ilk. As far as I’m concerned, if someone who is training to do anything that’s athletic in any way wants to call themselves an athlete, they can go right ahead and do so. It’s not taking anything away from professional athletes, it’s not taking anything away from Olympic athletes, and it sure as hell isn’t taking anything away from “amateur” athletes. And those redditors? I’d like to know how many of them actually compete athletically, and how many of them are just saying they do. Unless they can show awards/trophies/medals from accredited athletic competitions that they’ve earned, I’d say they’re amateurs too and have no room to make fun of anyone who doesn’t meet their “criteria” for athleticism.
    Add 4 points to their IQs and they might be intelligent enough to pass themselves off as plants (and that might be a bit too generous).

  4. Stacy permalink
    June 28, 2013 4:33 am

    Excellent post. It is always good to keep things in perspective by realizing that healthy and happy people don’t scream at strangers from their moving vehicles. It is hard to keep that perspective though, when you are a victim of the drive-by hate.

    Not long ago, after I got back from a long hike on some pretty rough trails, I had an experience with those “people” (hesitant to call them that, since I am not sure anyone who would do that is a human being). Coming back from my hike I felt really good and on top if the world – tired, but the good kind of tired because I pushed myself to take the tough trails that time around. So, happy and feeling on top of the world, I was almost back to my car when a van full of guys drove by and one of them leaned out of the passenger side window and shouted at me: “Go eat a cupcake, fatty!”. To that the other guys in the van broke out in laughter. All I could hear was that laughter trail away as the van sped out of sight and than a ringing in my ears so loud from my heart pounding with anger.

    Who would do that to a stranger? Never mind that I had just gotten back from a five mile hike (something I was doing quite regularly back then), never mind that I hadn’t eaten a cupcake in over two years (I hate those things, they are way too sweet for my taste buds), never mind that they knew nothing at all about me other than I was a fat female- They somehow and for some reason felt the need to be bullies and throw hate at me with proud glee. Suddenly I no longer felt on top of the world. I suddenly felt demoralized, angry, and hurt. Those fuckers didn’t know a THING about me except my body size. And to them, in there minds, that “says it all”. But what kills me the most is that even if I was lazy and didn’t go hiking or exercise at all, and even if I sat on my butt being a cough potato, even if I ate cupcakes every fucking day, that STILL wouldn’t give them that right to bully me and yell at hate at me from there passing vehicle. No one out doing there own thing, living life, deserves to be treated like shit and bullied by strangers.

    Sadly this wasn’t the only time I’ve been bullied in public, and not even the worst time (I was once spat on by a stranger -but that is another story), but it was one of the times it hurt the most, simply because it happened when I was feeling so happy and proud of myself -and they took that away from me.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      June 28, 2013 1:30 pm

      Hi, Stacy, I used to hike when I was well, and I know just how you felt after tackling the tough trails. You can’t let idiots ruin your good feelings, those lovely endorphins rushing through your bloodstream.

      What gets me about a story such as you told, or what Shannon wrote, is the phenomenal COWARDICE displayed. One of the unhappy things I have realized in my life is that the overwhelming majority of men are craven cowards. I realize that some of this is because men who refuse to conform can suffer vicious consequences, but it is beyond ironic that we hold courage up as a male virtue and yet one sees so little of it. To me, courage isn’t going to war (as Scott Peck pointed out, with a gun in your face and a gun at your back) or taking stupid risks, it’s the willingness to stand up for what’s right, to defend those weaker than yourself, to not conform to an expectation of verbal or physical violence. There may have been a guy in that car who hated what was going on, but he lacked the balls to tell the others to shut up.

      • June 28, 2013 6:44 pm

        Thank you, Elizabeth! And your right, cowardice is definitely one of the prevailing “motivations” for the actions of these people. I’d definitely say they probably also suffer from a good dose of self-hate too, or at least some deeeeeeep self-esteem issues. Why else would someone go out of their way to spread such nastiness to others, if not to try to cover their own self hate?

        Your comment put a smile on my face and reminded me of the other side of the coin – the good people in the world. Thanks for that, Elizabeth! 😀

  5. June 28, 2013 7:27 am

    Shannon, I have three words to say in response to this – I ❤ you! Okay, two words and a symbol, but I love this post and how you confronted that troll going after Golda for no reason other than to make himself look larger than life to his "fans." This is one of those days when I needed this pep talk and you delivered. FWIW, I'm rooting for you on your stair climb. 🙂

  6. nof permalink
    June 28, 2013 11:03 am

    “Cromagfans” is now entering my vocabulary. So perfect. I’d comment on the rest of your article, but you seem to have covered it all!

  7. violetyoshi permalink
    June 28, 2013 9:53 pm

    That Mike guy wouldn’t last for a minute on /b/.

  8. June 29, 2013 3:45 am

    I used to get abuse all the time on my way to work on my bicycle, to the point that i wanted to embroider the seat of my pants with “KISS THIS!” .
    Now either people are getting more used to big girls on bikes, or my Bluetooth headphones are doing a better job than I thought. I’d rather listen to Daft Punk than abusive asshats anyway 😛

  9. LittleBigGirl permalink
    June 29, 2013 11:03 am

    These athletics trolls are beyond pathetic. Everyone has to train. EVERYONE. Every. fucking. one. Take a championship marathon runner and tell them to ride a bike. Take a marathon biker, stick them in a leotard and tell them to dance. Take a dancer and tell them to wrestle. See how good they do their first time with no training whatsoever.
    If you start doing something you have never done before, it is not going to be easy and you will have to learn how to do it. You may have a natural grace or sense of rhythm that allows you to develop advanced dance technique quickly, but you would still need to build up the stamina needed to sustain that grace and rhythm during a 5 minute routine.

    Can you lift a jug of milk? Maybe. Can you lift it 10 times in a row? If you’ve never done it before in your life, it would not be a breeze.

    The dictionary definition of an “athlete” is “A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.”
    Now I don’t believe there is any “natural” traits necessary to physical exercise besides a pulse. Everything else is “acquired,” and any “acquired” traits are acquired through training.
    The loosest definition on is “a person who has a natural aptitude for physical activities.” That’s just about damn near everybody!

    So here is the thing: the key words in all the definitions are agility, strength, coordination, and stamina/endurance. All of these things can be improved with training. None of these things are connected to body size in any way.

    The one distinguishing feature of the definition of an athlete seems to be the greek root of “prize” or “contest.” So the only unifying aspect of athletics seems to be competition or working towards a goal.

    I just don’t see the point of the trolls arguments. Besides wanting to troll and feeling inferior that is.

    • LittleBigGirl permalink
      June 29, 2013 11:05 am

      I also notice trolls are usually laboring under the delusion that a) anyone should give a fuck what they think and b) that their ignorant opinions are somehow magically transmuted into the Laws of the Universe.

      • June 29, 2013 11:16 am

        ^ This

      • June 29, 2013 1:28 pm

        Yep, these are the people that can’t comprehend and can’t handle that the fact that their opinions are just that, OPINION. Nor the fact that human beings have the ability to have different view points or opinions without the fabric of the universe becoming unraveled.

  10. Lindsay permalink
    June 29, 2013 3:40 pm

    Holy fuck I cannot even believe the nerve of these people insulting Jen and Ragen!! And they are kidding themselves thinking most skinny, out of shape people could do a faster 5k time than Jen. I know a ton of thin people that refuse to run, hate it, and can hardly go a quarter of a mile without tiring – they would never even attempt to run a 5k. Yet it’s okay for them to admit that because they are thin. a 5k is an impressive distance in the first place fuck all these people saying you shouldn’t do it if you can’t get under a certain time.

    This is why I often cannot stand much of the fitness community at whole. It’s all about being the best and making people feel like shit for doing things just for health and/or enjoyment. I’m a distance runner and I cannot comfortably run much faster than a 10 minute mile for any length of time. Assholes tell me all the time “10 minutes? I could walk that fast!” Well that’s nice for you but I certainly could not – I’m short and have always been slow – my stamina is where I shine.

    As far as them being dicks about the stair climbing….I bet most of them are not stair climbers themselves. Stairs are hard!! I think I’m in pretty good shape and I am super out of breath after a couple flights of stairs. Best of luck to you in meeting your goals in that endeavor.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      June 29, 2013 6:34 pm

      I agree with Dizzy. People who casually say “I could walk that fast” have no idea how fast a 10-minute mile is. The average human walks 3 miles per hour, so you are going twice as fast. What amuses me is that humans can only run as fast as chickens. If you’ve ever had chickens, you know how true this is!

    • June 30, 2013 2:18 pm

      As someone who’s run 5ks with skinny, out of shape people in the past: No, they cannot run 10min miles. They can’t do 12min miles. They take walking breaks, just like every other out of shape, injured or otherwise unprepared ambulatory person does, and end up with 14/15min miles on average.

      These reddit trolls are just that- trolls. I had a bad day, so I’m going to indulge in a little troll-bashing and just state right here that none of these stupid gym monkeys would ever get anything approaching a competitive time outdoors. And no, lifting a lot of weight doesn’t necessarily make you a better runner (I hate strength training, personally), so don’t mention how I don’t really lift. I’m also not your bro, even though I fit your idiotic narrow criteria of being something you don’t mind clapping eyes on. I MIND YOU STARING AT ME, CREEP!

      And to the next person who is scoffing at me because I’m at a 14min/mile pace on your favorite treadmill: YOU rehab a broken patella while going faster, then.

  11. Dizzyd permalink
    June 29, 2013 5:10 pm

    I bet those ppl really couldn’t walk a ten-minute mile. Trolls are nothing but immature posers who think they’re being clever, at least to their equally knuckle-dragging friends. They deserve nothing more than to be laughed at as the pathetic fools they are, told they’re just jealous or insecure, and that deafening silence they hear is the sound of NO ONE CARING!

  12. July 1, 2013 4:05 pm

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    If you’re fat you should lose weight, fatass. But if you try to work out, you’ll be ridiculed mercilessly. Great double think there, Douchebags.

  13. XTC46 permalink
    July 2, 2013 3:13 pm

    The issue isn’t fat people devaluing the word “athlete”, its non-athletes devaluing the word. There are LOTS of fat athletes, the dances with fat chick is NOT one of them if she couldn’t muster a 5k at more than a crawl. I weight 300lbs and compete in 2 separate sports that don’t involve running at all. The longest distance I move in one of them is like 100 yards. I completed a warrior dash – which included STANDING IN LINE FOR OBSTACLES in less time than she ran a regular 5k. I did a 5k in less than half the time, no training at all. Those are AWFUL times, and calling myself a “runner” would be a disgrace to actual runners. Did I run? Yea, technically both feet were off the ground at some point in my stride for most of the movement of the race…but I am not a runner, just like she is not an athlete.

    Completing a 5k is not an athletic achievement (winning one could be depending on the kind of competition that was present). Any normal healthy people should be able to go out and run a 5k and basically any time, “athletic privileged” or not. Its simply that easy of a task.

    Size has nothing to do with it. There are LOTS of skinny non-athletes as well – they too devalue the word when claiming they are athletes, go look at the /r/running subreddit, tons of thin people with terrible running times claiming to be runners. Absolutely not. Words have meanings, some more specific than others. What if everyone decided to call themselves doctors? or lawyers? I read a medical book once, and a law journal, am I a doctor or lawyer? Nope.

    • July 2, 2013 4:22 pm

      I’m sorry, where do I go to get my degree in “running”? Please tell me the threshold for determining whether I am a runner or not? Also, which professional organization determines that standard and officially declares someone runner/not runner or athlete/not athlete?

      Oh, that’s right, it’s just your definition of “runner” and “athlete.” And according to you, random person on the internet, people who run 5k’s can’t call themselves runners because…

      The idea that it’s “devaluing” for a person who runs a 5k to call themselves a runner is patently absurd. You’re absolutely right, words have meanings so let’s take a look at the actual definitions of some of the words you claim are devalued courtesy of Merriam-Webster’s Dictonary:

      Athlete — A person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina
      Runner — One that runs
      Lawyer — One whose profession is to conduct lawsuits for clients or to advise as to legal rights and obligations in other matters
      Doctor — A person skilled or specializing in healing arts; especially: one (as a physician, dentist, or veterinarian) who holds an advanced degree and is licensed to practice

      Notice how the first two words have a pretty low bar to be defined as such, while the last two actually require the the person is a professional or has a degree. If you say you’re a lawyer, you’re saying you’ve passed the bar. If you say you’re a doctor, you’re saying you have a degree in medicine. Compare that to the fact that if you say you’re an athlete, you’re saying you train or are skilled for athletic accomplishments and if you say you’re a runner, you’re saying you run.

      The problem is that people like you and the rest of FCJ seem to think of the words “athlete” and “runner” as identical to “doctor” and “lawyer,” as though there’s some standard you meet, you receive your recognition and now you get to call yourself those words. The reality is that “athlete” simply means one who trains or is skilled at a sport and a runner is one who runs.

      The problem I have with you people is that you go online, pick out someone who you have decided doesn’t deserve to call themselves an athlete, and you wage this whiny campaign to convince other like-minded people to say “Yeah, Ragen’s not an athlete!” But what’s the fucking point? She works out, she does interval training, she does Pilates, she trains her body. Just because you don’t see the results doesn’t mean they aren’t there and it ESPECIALLY doesn’t mean you get to tell her how she describes herself.

      This semantic bullshit is so idiotic as to be laughable. You come from a group of people who are supposedly outraged that fat people are so lazy, but when fat people say, “Yeah, but I do this, this and this to improve my health/feel better/for fun” the cockroaches come out of the woodwork and whine “THAT DOESN’T COUNT!”

      If you don’t think Ragen, or others, are athletes, great. That’s your prerogative. But I’m still going to laugh in your fucking faces because somebody else’s choice of terms is so offensive that you write thread after thread after thread trying to “prove” to yourselves that you’re right and she’s wrong.

      If this were about fitness and health, rather than the visceral response to fat bodies, then perhaps the concern trolls would say, “I don’t think she’s an athlete personally, but good on her for making fitness a priority in her life.” Instead, they’ve latched onto this 5k race and made in their raison d’etre in fighting HAES. It’s intellectually dishonest and incredibly childish. And it’s a great reflection of the mindset of the average concern troll.


      • Herman permalink
        July 2, 2013 5:10 pm

        Look up the times for Boston Qualifiers for a marathon. I believe last year it was 3:04 for men, and in the 3:20-3:30 range for women. It is possible to have completed a marathon without considering yourself a marathoner.

        I engage in athletic activities from time to time, it doesn’t make me an athlete. I also have played the guitar before, but I am not a guitarist (I would still consider myself a crappy bassist, however). Ragen saying she’s a dancer, that makes sense, because she is.

        There are even different types of athletes. There are resistance athletes, and endurance athletes. There are rowers, sprinters, marathoners, whatever. A marathoner isn’t a resistance athlete, and a powerlifter isn’t an endurance athlete.

        Obviously we are capable of having varying definitions on a personal basis. If someone wants to call themselves at athlete, fine. But does that entitle them to being free of ridicule as well? What if I called myself a unicorn?

        The people who called her out didn’t do it to fat shame, they did it because they (and most other people) have different definitions for what constitutes an athlete.

        Also there are pretty strict definitions for certain words which were misused before. For example: marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers. A 5K is not a marathon.

      • XTC46 permalink
        July 2, 2013 7:22 pm

        >people who run 5k’s can’t call themselves runners because…

        No, if they run a 5k they certainly can, 1+ hour is not running. Running, by definition means both feet never touch the ground at the same time. Running that slow would actually be pretty damn impressive as it would be incredibly inefficient.

        >If you don’t think Ragen, or others, are athletes, great. That’s your prerogative. But I’m still going to laugh in your fucking faces because somebody else’s choice of terms is so offensive that you write thread after thread after thread trying to “prove” to yourselves that you’re right and she’s wrong.

        And you are welcome to, I only posted as I found your need to rant on the subject amusing and I enjoy the reaction (and maybe to provide another perspective ). I personally don’t care if she wants to call herself an athlete, a runner, a butterfly, or the king of the world, I don’t know her and she doesn’t impact my life.I think it’s silly that she claimed “athletic privileged” then had to walk a 5k though, but hey, if it makes her happy, great. It’s WAY better than not walking a 5k.

        >This semantic bullshit is so idiotic as to be laughable.

        I agree…it does provide lolz.. Why people are so worked up over it boggles my mind.

        However sometimes your wording is a bit off though, like the sumo wrestler who “finished” a marathon. He didn’t finish, he passed the time limit and thus, was incomplete. Did he complete the course? I have no idea, probably. But “finish” in the context of a race has requirements that he did not meet.

        From the LA Marathon FAQ: “Please note that participants who cross the Marathon Finish Line after 8:00:00 will not be recognized as Official Finishers and are not guaranteed a medal or a finishing time.”

        So who is the “intellectually dishonest” one here, you plainly lied about the completion status of a participant.

        The “athlete” argument is really silly though – others do have more merit, people just dog pile on shit sometimes.

        >You come from a group of people who are supposedly outraged that fat people are so lazy, but when fat people say, “Yeah, but I do this, this and this to improve my health/feel better/for fun” the cockroaches come out of the woodwork and whine “THAT DOESN’T COUNT!”

        Luckily, most of the time they aren’t serious (its a circle jerk) and the ones who are serious are regularly called out for being assholes to people legitimately tying to be better/healthier/stronger/faster/whatever.

        >If this were about fitness and health, rather than the visceral response to fat bodies, then perhaps the concern trolls would say, “I don’t think she’s an athlete personally, but good on her for making fitness a priority in her life.”

        I have said that, and you will find several responses in FCJ along the lines of “oh…so we are jerking to people actually trying to improve themselves now?” and similar. Most of the guys there DO actually try to help others, others just like to shit on people. You just happen to focus in on the ones who don’t, just like most people focus in on the fat lazy fat people and not the ones who try to actually be healthy. You should work on that, it makes you look like a hypocrite.

        >concern troll.

        Have I given you the impression that I am concerned about anyone? If so I apologize. I just find humor in it all and enjoy conversing with different people to better understand view points (especially ones I dont agree with).wouldn’t be bothered.

        • Dizzyd permalink
          July 7, 2013 6:45 pm

          If she doesn’t impact your life, then why are you bothering to comment on it?

      • Stacy permalink
        July 2, 2013 7:45 pm

        You absolutely hit the nail on the head. And the troll’s continued outcry against fat athletes shows that it’s more about Ew Fat than Health. Otherwise they would be cheering us fatties on and encouraging u s to continue to run, continue to work out, continue to be more athletic. At least they should have the guts to be honest with themselves and others and stop pretending it’s anything other than they don’t want to see fat people doing what they are doing because they somehow think that it devalues what they are doing. It’s about weight bigotry, fat phobia, and fat hate. Pure and simple.

        • Herman permalink
          July 3, 2013 3:37 pm

          XTC is himself an athlete. He’s competed in strong man competitions, and powerlifting meets. He does not consider himself a runner despite having completed a few running courses. He also weighs about 300 pounds. Note how I didn’t use the qualifier: “fat” athlete. He is an AMATEUR athlete, he is far from a professional athlete and he’ll be the first to admit that.

          I personally don’t like to shit on someone for attempting something, even if they failed. But doing one thing and conflating it for another, or making stuff up is what bothers me.

          I also personally have no problem with fat people, I’m sure a lot of my patients in the future will be overweight or obese and I will try and treat them to the best of their abilities. I agree with a lot of the tenets of Jon Robinson’s original model for HAES (that you can try to improve your health no matter where you currently are at, and you shouldn’t feel like shit about yourself no matter where you’re at physically/mentally).

          [Possible TW?]

          I don’t like the whole science denialism that’s been rolled into the current iteration of the HAES movement “OMG DIET’S ARE IMPOSSIBLE, YOU’RE GOING TO GAIN ALL THE WEIGHT BACK AND MORE, DIETING IS UNHEALTHY, LONG TERM WEIGHT LOSS IS UNHEALTHY/IMPOSSIBLE DON’T EVEN TRY!”

          I understand that a lot of people who adopt the HAES lifestyle are recovery from EDs, and I hope they keep on keeping up and continue trying to improve their lives for the better. But the word “diet” doesn’t mean “do for 3 weeks and lose pounds>”. Your diet is what you eat, and everyone can stand to improve their diet, no matter where you’re currently at. If that is something you have trouble doing because of a past history of failure, then those mental barriers are something you should work out with therapy/counseling, not going ” is a terrible idea anyway, I’m just going to do “. It’s brushing an entire issue under the rug permanently, rather than dealng with it. That’s decidedly unhealthy.

          But no one should be made to feel like shit for the way they look either, but those “trolls” are just having a laugh most of the time, often just laughing at atchka’s massive misinterpretation of scientific stuff. It’s not because he’s fat, it’s because of the mental gymnastics for why he justifies being fat.

          To address your “all those trolls are “:

          XTC is ~300 pounds, we don’t ever give him shit for it. There’s a couple more around that weight in our group. The most we do is call them grizzly bears/polar bears. There’s a reason for that.

          If atchka said “I’m fat, I exercise regularly, but I also overeat relative to how much energy I use and freely acknowledge that”, I don’t think these specific people (the trolls he calls out) would have any problems with that whatsoever.

          • Stacy permalink
            July 3, 2013 10:25 pm

            “It’s brushing an entire issue under the rug permanently, rather than dealng with it. That’s decidedly unhealthy.”

            No, what’s decidedly unhealthy is people like you thinking that you can tell anything about a fat person other than THEY HAVE A FAT BODY and that you think you have a right to tell people how to live their lives. What’s unhealthy is fat people having to deal with (EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES) people like you think they aren’t living their lives right because they don’t fit into the body type that you think is acceptable.

            I can tell you for a FACT that I am MUCH healthier following HAES than I EVER was dieting and focusing on weight loss. But of course, a fat person’s own testimony on their own health is COMPLETELY dismissed because people like you think us fatties don’t know shit about our own bodies or how to take care of them.

            Please take your concern trolling elsewhere. It’s not needed or wanted here.

            • vesta44 permalink
              July 3, 2013 11:41 pm

              Stacy – It does no good to tell people like him that their concern trolling isn’t needed or wanted. He has it stuck in his head that it’s possible for every fat person to lose weight if they just follow his “recommendations”. Never mind that statistics show that 95% of people who try to lose weight will gain some/most/all/more back within 5 years. He’s convinced that calories in/calories out is a proven fact and works for everyone. I say let him keep his delusions, let him keep preaching to his choir, and let us go on about our business of educating those who are willing to listen and learn. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, and you can put knowledge out there for those who don’t know, but you can’t make them learn it or believe it. No skin off my nose if they want to remain in the dark (I think I’m done with the adages now).

            • Herman permalink
              July 4, 2013 2:16 pm

              [Possible TW again]

              First: any attempt to get healthier is commendable, and kudos to you for making the effort and getting healthier. Crash dieting and then binging is incredibly unhealthy, and it’s good that you broke that cycle, and are actively trying to improve your health now as well. Congratulations! Seriously, I mean that.

              If weight loss isn’t an issue for you, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with being overweight and choosing to stay that way if you feel it isn’t something you want to deal with, or it isn’t having a significantly negative impact on your life. Different people have different goals/priorities, and I get that.

              But saying weight loss is impossible or you’ll gain it all back or you’ll fail, and instantly dismissing it as unrealistic for the GENERAL POPULATION (not you on a personal basis, you and your doctor know your body better than I do) is absurd. I’ve job shadowed a doctor in a weight loss clinic before, I’ve helped plan the diets (note: not “crash diets” but long term behaviour and lifestyle modifications) of friends and family and most have them have been satisfied with the results.

              I have never seen leptin and ghrelin values in the old normal range of an obese person, ever. Many of them do have fine serum markers of health (although C-reactive protein is always trending towards the higher end of normal if it is still in the normal range).

              The HAES model is a pretty decent approach to establish a healthy relationship with food, this is ESPECIALLY true in people with a history of eating disorders (crash dieting, yo-yoing, binge eating, anorexia nervosa, ED-NOS). If you’re doing it and you’re feeling better and getting healthier, keep on keeping on. I especially like the suggestion of eating when you’re hungry, and not eating when you aren’t, and to not feel guilty about what/how much you eat. I feel combined with therapy and counseling HAES can be a fantastic tool for people with eating disorders.

              But don’t say just because didn’t work for you, don’t generalize that to the gen pop. Also note the difference between dieting, and your diet. Dieting is what many would consider “crash dieting”, diet = what you eat throughout the day.

              I know if I ever an encounter an obese patient and they don’t want to focus on losing weight, I’m not gonna bother them about it. But if they ARE uncomfortable with their size, I’m not going to tell them weight loss is impossible, they’re doomed for failure, and it’s not going to work. I’m going to recommend dietary modifications. Pretty simple ones too: stop drinking juice and pop/switch to diet if it doesn’t give you migraines, stop using creamer/sugar in your coffee, start drinking milk if you’re not lactose intolerant/vegan, increase your protein and fiber intake and supplemental fiber/protein wouldn’t be a bad idea if you have trouble getting it from normal food (whey protein/rice+pea protein for vegans, and pectin/psyllium for fiber). I’d also tell them not to feel guilty if they slip up one day, and to not stress it so much. Advising not monitoring your scale and instead observing how you feel mentally/physically, and if you’re getting stronger, faster, more mobile, or whatever is a better approach than what many people do on their own as well. THOSE are going to be my recommendations for people that WANT to lose weight.

              Nothing unhealthy or out of this world, and most of my patients that comply with the treatment will see a change in their body composition and several markers of health. Increasing protein intake has ALWAYS been associated with positive health outcomes in people, regardless of their current weight/size, unless they have significant kidney problems or a congenital abnormality. I have read the literature, and I have seen the effects personally, AND in the numerous people I’ve recommended this to. You can even increase your relative protein intake without having to worry about coutning calories at all if you’re obese, and see improvements in your health and body composition. IF that is something you want to do. I’m not exactly going to ram protein shakes down my patients throats though.

     <– ad libitum (no dietary restrictions or calorie counting, other than aiming to hit the 30% protein) intake of a diet with 30% protein causes improvements in health (normalization of serum leptin/ghrelin, and other trials have noticed a marked decrease in liver fat accumulation, C-reactive protein, and other things and well) significant fat loss, and a decent amount of lean mass retention. I don't really care about the fat loss, but the improvements in markers of health.

              I don't know your current health status, and I'm not YOUR doctor anyway (or anyone's yet, for that matter), so I have no business discussing how this applies to you. But in the general population, increasing protein intake if you're obese has been associated with improvements in health profile, with fat loss as a secondary outcome/side effect.

              I also know if I come across an obese patient with sleep apnea, I'm going to recommend a CPAP device/mouth guard and also recommend dietary modifications, those are the best choices that have produced the best results. There isn't any better substitutes, and combined therapy including weight loss has the best alleviation of symptoms. I'm not going to tell them "oh you'll never lose weight anyway, don't bother!".

              • Stacy permalink
                July 4, 2013 2:40 pm

                OMG You just don’t get it do you?
                “any attempt to get healthier is commendable, and kudos to you for making the effort and getting healthier”
                You DON’T KNOW MY HEALTH! Stop fucking talking down to fat people like you know ANYTHING ABOUT their health.

                “Crash dieting and then binging is incredibly unhealthy, and it’s good that you broke that cycle, and are actively trying to improve your health now as well. Congratulations! Seriously, I mean that.”
                Could you be ANY more CONDESCENDING!? I’m not a bing eater and you thinking you know that about me simply because I’m fat just goes to show how much of a brain washed fat phobic asshole you are.

                You know what, I’m done with this conversation. You have nothing useful to add to this conversion when you can’t see past your own bigotry. I will NOT be giving one more sanity point to your fat phobic, weight bigot, condescending ass. And in case I wasn’t clear the first time – FUCK OFF, CONCERN TROLL!

                • Herman permalink
                  July 4, 2013 2:45 pm

                  You saw condescension where there wasn’t any intended and got mad instead… <— see, THAT was condescension <— so was this

                  I am a binge eater myself (well I don't meet enough of the criteria, and would likely get diagnosed with ED-nos instead).

                  You said you tried dieting and it failed and you weren't as healthy as you are now. I've seen the cycle first hand in weight loss clinics in the majority of people who came there for advice before seeking active counseling and dietary advice.

          • Dizzyd permalink
            July 7, 2013 6:51 pm

            What I personally have a problem with, and I’m sure others on here would agree, is with the “trolls just having a laugh” bit. Unfortunately, that seems to be all trolls want to do in the guise of caring about our health. It gives the impression that they’re just having a little bit of “harmless fun” laughing at the fatties, but that kind of cruelty is inexcusable.

            • Stacy permalink
              July 7, 2013 7:33 pm

              I agree. It’s not “harmless fun”, it’s bullying. Our culture tries to dehumanize fat people and our media shows that it’s totally “Ok” to bully fat people, because hey, “it’s for their own good”. It’s such bs. This isn’t harmless at all. It ruins lives and it’s sick. Fat people are subject to oppression, stigma, and hate every day of their lives. And being a part of the problem isn’t “harmless fun”.

  14. vesta44 permalink
    July 7, 2013 9:53 pm

    Personally, I think Herman is an asshole – a condescending, fat-phobic, bigoted asshole who refuses to see past his own mythconceptions and mythperceptions. I think he could be the proverbial mything link that all concern trolls sprang from originally.

    • Stacy permalink
      July 8, 2013 7:35 pm

      I agree, vesta. Sometimes people have their bigotry so ingrained that they can’t even entertain the notion that they may be wrong, or even that what they believe IS bigotry.

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