Several of you have noticed that The Original Marshmallow of Steel, Sarah Watson, has taken down her blog. The good news is, it’s temporary (though we don’t yet know when she’ll be back). The bad news is, she did indeed do it because people are fucking assholes, and she couldn’t take it anymore.
I asked Sarah if I could blog about her decision to take a break from public blogging, and she responded with an e-mail that I’ve decided to turn into a guest post instead.
Huge thanks to Sarah for sharing this with the … Shapelies? Prosies? Shapelipolitans? Still working on the right name, but whatever we’re called, we all adore Sarah and can’t wait for Fat Girl on a Bike to return. –Kate
The Fat Girl on a Bike blog started as a way for me to write about my experiences specifically related to biking. When I took the plunge for my first triathlon a little more than a year ago, I decided to write about it there because it gave my friends and family a way to follow me.
I’m painfully aware of how people can interact in a completely anonymous atmosphere, so I tried to carefully edit the blog because I didn’t want to constantly deal with two issues — diet and weight loss. I have a very low bullshit tolerance, and those sorts of conversations piss me off very quickly.
It disturbs me to no end to see how focused we as a society have become on those two issues. What the hell gives you the right to go up to a fat person and offer diet advice or ask if they’ve lost weight? On the flip side, what the hell gives you the right to go up to a naturally thin person and tell them they should eat something? Our bodies ARE NOT PUBLIC PROPERTY.
Here’s the truth about being fat. We’re told we’re unhealthy (but there is no real finite definition of the word), and we need to lose weight. We’re told losing weight is simple: eat less and exercise.
So we eat less and exercise. But when we exercise, we’re told we’re grinding down our joints and are going to hurt ourselves. So we’re supposed to slowly walk and subsist on rice cakes and Diet Coke.
And when we don’t lose weight, it’s because we’re somehow sabotaging ourselves, because we hate ourselves — otherwise we wouldn’t be this fat in the first place! And there’s only one cause for being fat — we just eat too goddamn much. So get off the couch, fatass, and exercise!
OMGWTFBBQ!1!1!11 Like a dutiful drone, I went and followed those instructions. I went and exercised. I had fun. I exercised for three years and then decided to do something a little unusual. I did a triathlon. And I liked it so much, I did seven more in one year. And wrote about it. And posted pictures. And talked about how I felt. And talked about how others made me feel. And talked about it from the perspective of the fat chick who’s usually last. And talked about the fun I had. And talked about the bad things. And I didn’t hold back.
Somehow, that became permission for every asshat on the web to dissect my entire life based on a picture or reading one or two blog entries.
Lately the bullshit barrage has been much harder for me than usual. I’m super stressed out from my own REAL life and I’m trying to handle a buttload of stuff on very little emotional reserve (surprise, I have mental health issues too!)
The last straw was a very lengthy discussion on another blog, specifically discussing me based on photos from the BMI project. That’s why I decided to take a break for a while by turning the blog private until I’m ready to face the intarweb again. I also asked Kate to remove my photos from the project, possibly forever.
The biggest reason I don’t discuss diet and weight loss with strangers is I lived for 17 years as a calorie-obsessed bulimic who spent much of my spare mental energy trying to see how many grams I’d be able to lose if I just puked up 4 percent of last night’s dinner. Constantly reading and hearing about eating, weight, obesity, etc., have recently rekindled all sorts of eating disordered thoughts and behavior and I will NOT let that happen to me again.
There are factors in my life that make weight loss much more complicated than you’ll ever know (as is common with many other people of varying sizes). So you know what? I stopped obsessing over it because I wanted to enjoy my life rather than be ill all the time. I’m not exactly thrilled with my size, but I’d much rather be a confident fat woman than a ridiculously insecure not-so-fat woman.
The thing that irritates me so much about this is that I just want to write about my racing habit because that’s how I remember and enjoy it afterward.
So why is my blog fodder for the whole internet dickwad population to come out and rip me to shreds and make theoretical claims about me and my body? Why is it important to pontificate over the definition of the terms “athlete,” “fitness,” “health,” “obesity,” “triathlete,” and generic “fatass”?
I never used to have a problem with people criticizing me, because my job always invited it. But I knew that criticism was based on my JOB, not ME. In fact, I appreciate job criticism because it helps me do it better.
But this shit is 100 percent personal, based on one fucking picture. Not a series of pictures, but one fucking picture. And people claim it’s not personal, by saying it’s not me they’re criticizing, it’s just my fat. Guess what, my fat is part of my body. And when you shit on my body, you’re shitting on me. And I’m not into that sort of freaky shit.
Based on those pictures, some anonymous fucktard can make a public assertion that I’m unhealthy, weak, sick, in need of medical attention, grinding my joints to a pulp, not an athlete, not a triathlete, lying about what I eat (which I never discuss online), lying about the levels of exercise I do (which I also don’t discuss in intimate detail), self-hating, and a whole host of other things.
While some say I should just ignore it and move on, I challenge you to see how you’d be doing in this sort of situation. I sincerely doubt you’d be able to ignore it that easily.
That said, the blog will be back, but not for a while. I need the break to focus on myself, not worrying about the constant distraction of buzzing flies ripping my life to shreds in ways they’d never say to my face.