I have written multiple times about the stigma fat people face when they try to exercise. They feel uncomfortable with stares and ridicule. Recently dancer Ragen Chastain completed a 26 mile marathon because she was slower than the rest, she was ridiculed. Including a comment such as this:
This is ridiculous. The author wasn't trained to do a marathon and wallowed through the course at 28min/mile pace. How is doing any physical activity at barely over TWO MILES PER HOUR anything other than just sad?
I recently came back from Colorado. On vacation I'm often move more because I have the time. On the second day I was there we went to the hot springs where I swam as much as possible in bath-like water.
The next day we did the Mantiou Incline. The incline is a railroad track with the steel beams removed and the wooden tracks used as steps. There are three points up. The half-way point (More like 60%), the false summit, and the actual summit. I knew we were planning to do it and even though I'd rather swim three miles than walk up one, I had planned to at least do it part of the way. Because it was later in the day, we planned to just go to the halfway point.
It was extremely difficult. About half-way there, I thought my heart was going to fall out of my chest. I had my friend screaming at me to get moving because the sun was going down and we were all going to freeze to death (we weren't) while I had my husband quietly assuring me I could make it because I was the strongest woman he knew.
This was my response to my friend.
Feeling bad about my body has always lowered my self-esteem and made me think I was incapable of finishing anything that meant success for me. I wasn't surprised as I got closer to the end, I stopped more and more frequently. A fat person was not allowed to make this feat. After all, fat people aren't supposed to be athletic, they are supposed to be lazy slobs.
Coming down off the mountain, I got a lot of kudos from people who passed me as I huffed and puffed up the mountain. Part of me felt this was condescention, that yes a fat person made it to the halfway point, but instead I thought they were just being supportive and didn't want me to give up.
The point here is not that you have to make it up the Manitou incline but that fat people not only deserve movement without stigma and that we cannot allow stigma to block our way to the top.
Next year I will get to the summit.