So I truly loved Barry Bearak’s article about masters runner Kathy Martin, “After Late Start, Runner Is Speeding Through Records” at The New York Times. It is, well, inspiring to read about someone who didn’t start seriously running until her late forties and who is not only still well into and enjoying it at age sixty, but who is also setting national and world records. I found running again last year at twenty-nine and though I don’t hope for record-breaking (really, I have very little desire to compete), but I do hope to be enjoying running well into my retirement. (And as a public school teacher in Arizona, I estimate that I will have sufficient money to retire long about age eighty-five, so that’s saying something.)
That is, I loved it right up until this remark from the reporter:
But there is a marked difference in durability between the fat and the fit, the layers and the players.
The first thing I have to say about that is FFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOUUUU. While there’s certainly still some scientific debate as to the long-term correlations of fat and adverse health issues in general, there really isn’t an established dichotomy between “fat” and “fit.” For example, is my own durability of indiscriminate determination because I am both fat and fit?
In other words, they are not necessarily two separate things. Similarly, rhetorically assigning all fat people as “layers” — that is, as people who are sedentary and implicitly lazy — that is both lazy thinking and lazy reporting.
Additionally, I’m doubly irked for a couple of reasons:
One, given that there is no mention of Martin or other runners ever being fat, there is no reason to bring fat into the narrative. It’s more or less completely irrelevant to the story at hand, so it’s like its own Bonus Edition of Gratuitous Fat Shaming. FFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK THAAAAT.
By the way, I only say “more or less” because the article does mention Martin’s body size in relation to fitness as she’s beginning her running career:
Ten minutes into the trot, she lay down exhausted in the middle of Clark Drive in East Northport. “Get up or a car is going to hit you,” her husband said. And when she caught her breath, she answered, “I hope it does.”
The misery was ultimately redeeming. Martin, a 30-year-old nurse back then, assessed her cardiorespiratory future. On the plus side, she was trim, barely 100 pounds, and she did not smoke. But she was also woefully out of shape, one of those people always on her feet but never exercising. She wondered: If I cannot run a mile at 30, will I even be able to walk one at 60?
So not only is the author’s fat-shaming unnecessary, but it’s also actively countered by the subject’s own story. Gratuitous and inaccurate: two for the price of one!
Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled to have read about Kathy Martin, and I’m inspired by her story. I hope the miles ahead of her are as many as she wants and as happy as she wishes them to be.
Barry Bearak, on the other hand,
can kiss my fat ass should consider taking an intensive course in logic.