On Active Bodies.

There’s a terrible article floating around where a woman chastises Nike for DARING to put larger-sized mannequins in their stores. I’m not linking to it, because I am linking to women who deserve your clicks later on in this post and that woman who wrote that article DOES NOT. It was as vile as you can imagine as she snarkily commented that a body that size was not about to go for a run, and suggested that Nike was making the obesity problem worse with those atrocities.

I pointed out on my personal Facebook that this woman needed to get out more. Maybe she’s a REALLY fast runner and so only sees the long and lean bodies in the front of the pack at races she does. Maybe she goes to an expensive yoga studio where everyone is wearing Lululemon which doesn’t even go beyond a size 14. Maybe she does high impact classes which bigger bodies avoid. Or maybe the fact that none of her fitness communities have larger bodies in them IS WHAT IS KEEPING BIG BODIES FROM JOINING.

I don’t like being the only non-lean body in a room. Even at my beloved Sunday beer & yoga, I am often I’m the only one squishing my fat rolls during my front fold or struggling with my giant boobs in my face in my shoulder stand. Doing the Triangle pose the correct way is difficult when you have rolls pinching at your side. I tend to twist my hips around the folds which means I am no longer in the correct position and it’s hard to look around and know I’m the only one with that specific complication.

(Luckily my hamstrings are flexible as shit so I bask in the superiority which that sometimes gives me. I AM NOT ASHAMED OF MY FLEXIBLE HAMSTRINGS.)

I much prefer classes where there are other people struggling with similar bodies, so maybe this girl has never seen large bodies in her classes because they feel unwelcome around people like her.

You know the best place to see a wide variety of bodies? A free fitness class. Our Athleta store (which goes up to AT LEAST a 2X) offers a lot of free classes. Everything from WERQ to Pilates. Our Parks and Rec department sponsors a lot of free classes around town, including a fun summer series they’re doing downtown in our big park. I did my first POUND class this weekend for free and I was surrounded by bodies of all shapes and sizes and colors and ages.

I wanted to share all of this with you in case you are worried about being the only non-lean body in a room. Another good place to watch all-sizes of bodies be athletic? Is at a 5K or a Sprint Triathlon. Those smaller-distance type of races attract all types of bodies (and ages which is just as important for me as I get in my head that I’m too old for shit all the time) and so just set yourself up at the finish line to cheer on the participants and if you stay to the end you’ll see all sizes and shapes and ages showing you what an active body can look like.

Also? Find your inspiration in all shapes and sizes. My newest follow is Latoya Shauntay Snell who addressed the same article here on her Facebook page. My favorite quote of hers was:

Let’s be honest Tanya: The mannequin doesn’t give a damn about your reckless article because she can’t hear you. But humans like me with a pulse heard your comments way before the Telegraph gave you a green light to publish this abomination.

You blamed the BoPo and fat acceptance movement as being negative. Let’s “run” – chuckle here cuz fat people running is funny, right – with this analogy that this mannequin shouldn’t ‘ready herself for a run’. How should she armor herself in life if nothing is made for us? If we cannot see ourselves in something, then the world don’t think we exist. It’s easy to bash but I’d love to hear your solutions for us. Excuse me as I do what mannequins can’t do — run.

Latoya Shauntay Snell

The author of the Dances With Fat blog also addressed the dumb suggestion of Nike “promoting obesity” here:

The promoting obesity myth is perpetuated by cruel people who want to make fat people’s lives miserable — the same kind of people who complain that fat people don’t work out (not their business) and then mock fat people for working out in public (not their damn business) and then complain that companies make clothes for fat people to work out in (not their fucking business!).

Dances With Fat Blog

You know what I don’t worry about? Promoting obesity. But you know what I do worry about? That the author of that article and people like her are keeping people from trying new things that will get them active. So read those words above from women smarter than I am, and find what works for you in whatever clothes feel comfortable. Check out Dianne Bondy who just wrote the book Yoga For Everyone: 50 Poses For Every Type Of Body. She gives great modifications based on your body size and ability. See if your community has any free classes you can check out. My city also has free run/walk groups all over town all days of the week. Get yourself to one of those. Don’t let anyone shame you or your body if you already are active or you’re wanting to be more active.

Don’t give asshats like Tanya that power.

5 Comments

  • Melissa

    Your post says what I’ve been thinking so much better and more organized than I could say it.

    I didn’t give her the click, but as I see responses to the article, I keep thinking….if the author finds fat bodies so repulsive, wouldn’t she WANT there to be larger workout gear so larger people can work out and become smaller people?

    I’m larger than I’d like to be and am trying hard to increase my activity and not think about what other people think of me. I’m really freaking thankful there is plus size work out gear because it’s hard enough without wondering if people are also wide eyed at how tight my clothes are as well.

  • Karen

    I went to a free yoga class last year around this time (whenever they were doing the free classes), It was advertised as a yoga for all sizes class and good for newbies. Aside from the instructor (who was still quite a bit smaller than me), every other person in the class was thin and experienced in yoga. It was not a very enjoyable experience. I would have been more comfortable if there had been more novices and squishy people. I haven’t tried another yoga class since.

  • Tracy

    I was shopping this weekend with my family and looking for some new clothes to walk in the summer heat. I can’t run. I am not sure I could do a yoga class or any class. But I never will be able to, if all I can do is wear big “regular clothes”… I need comfortable workout clothes. But I find more and more that there isn’t much. Oh, and if there is, it is always black. Try wearing black in 90 degree heat in July in Louisiana. And that’s in the early morning or late evening…

    I didn’t look for the article. I won’t. I have little get up and go as it is, so I decided not to read it. But I am not surprised.

  • Jaime

    I’m 5’6 and 195-200 pounds. My goal this year was to run a half-marathon. I resisted for a long time because “people my size don’t run that far.” But my husband, who runs marathons, convinced me that I was wrong. So we trained. I ran short 2-3 mile runs twice a week, then a longer run on Saturdays – increasing my mileage until I got up to 11 miles. Two weeks before my race, though, I got face shingles (FACE SHINGLES) and couldn’t run. I was devastated, but also still amazed that I was able to run that far. I never lost any weight, never got “a runner’s body,” but I RAN 11 MILES.

  • Olivia

    Yes. Seeing larger people being active makes me feel more comfortable to join in and I’m sure this is true for others too. And if you sell plus-size active wear, wouldn’t you want to have a plus-size mannequin to show potential buyers what you have for sale? It only makes sense to me.