Something to Read: Hey, Fat Girl

As you read this incredibly thoughtful entry by Flintland, keep in mind that it need not be solely about running. Rather, the activity being pointed out can be anything you want, anything you need. Let it be more personal to you. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve identified with the fat girl being written about here. And even if you can’t find it true to your own story, maybe it will speak to some insecure part of you or someone you love. FatGirl

Hey Fat Girl,

Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.

You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home.  You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.

Click here to continue reading on Flintland…


I’d love to hear your thoughts.



61 thoughts on “Something to Read: Hey, Fat Girl

  1. Kayla

    As an overweight college student who just completed her first 5k this Summer, this was really inspiring to read. Definitely sending this to my coach!

    I am a runner!!!

  2. Deb

    Thank you so much for posting this!
    At nearly 100lbs overweight and after spending nearly a year rehabbing a back injury, I am that fat girl. I hide in the farthest, darkest corner of the gym and feel depressed when I have to get off the elliptical after just 5 minutes as the surrounding beauties in cute sports bras are barely breathing heavily after 2 miles.
    This post, like your story and this website, gives me the motivation to go back again tomorrow, and perhaps, not feel as much like a failure when I have to hop off, huffing, puffing and dripping sweat, after a mere 5 minutes.

  3. Andie

    This is an email I received from my friend Kari in response to this post:

    “I wasn’t fat growing up, I was fit. I looked fit, at least. I was a 3-sport, full-time athlete who worked just as hard as the girls I trained beside, and just as often. But I could never run. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t run one single mile without stopping multiple times and finishing in a slowwww walk, sucking wind and embarrassed.

    It was humiliating, especially because the common reaction was one of derision. My coaches would yell in my face that I was a slacker, a faker. They just didn’t understand that I could. not. breathe! Inhalers didn’t fix anything, in fact none of the doc’s fixes fixed anything.

    If it wasn’t for the girls who DID believe me, who did encourage me, I would have quit. Without a doubt, I would’ve punched one of those coaches and walked away! (Err, not to condone violence or anything!)

    So if it hadn’t been for those girls (any my family), I would never have needed the mandatory sports physical that finally found my problem…a heart condition, to be operated on exactly two weeks after they found it.

    And if it hadn’t been for those girls, I could be dead right now.

    So dramatic!! My point is just that, no matter WHO they are or WHAT they are, everyone needs someone to encourage and believe in them. You, Andie, were so very right to say it doesn’t just have to be about “fat” but about whatever we need.

    Thank you for sharing!
    – Kari

  4. Susan B

    Thanks for sharing that. It did move me to tears. I was just out this morning walking 2 miles and feeling like everyone was staring at me and thinking how did she let herself get into that shape. Maybe they see me fast-walking (which makes me feel like a fool) and they think “good for her” :)

  5. ASuburbanLife

    That’s a really nice post, thank you so much for sharing it. I still feel self-conscious in the hotel gym on the elliptical, my rolls not quite held in by lycra and spandex, next to the very fit men lifting weights.

  6. Sonny N

    hey fat girl,

    I wish I knew your name so I wouldn’t have to call you fat girl anymore.

    But for now, not knowing your name, I will simply have to continue calling you Fat Girl because after all, all superheroes need to have names.

    1. cadi

      Sonny, Andie’s post hit the nail on the head. Your comment hit it home. Thanks for this, and thank you Andie for giving the far girls who are trying so hard the limelight we deserve.

  7. Ksenija @ Health Ninja

    I love this, that’s exactly what I always think when I meet people with really bad weight issues in the gym or even in the swimming pool – it is so great what courage those people have and to my opinion the only thing they should get is a hell lot of respect.

  8. Trish

    I was that girl…I still feel like it every time I hit the trails. I still go 5 days a week, and sweat, and puff, and pant (and am totally red faced), but it is getting easier every time I go.

    I just started training for my first half marathon (it is in February). We’ll see how that goes…

  9. Andrea F

    Love this! Especially today as I ran my first 5K this morning. I cried in fear yesterday afraid I would be last or that I couldn’t finish. I looked at all the people who were in much better shape than me this morning and I saw no judgement when I lined up at the 9 mile pace. Strangers cheered me as I finished and i no longer felt likt the fat girl that couldnt do it It’s always hard to realize that even strangers think better of you than you do yourself. Awesome story, thanks for sharing.

  10. jkn

    I used to walk almost everyday at a track for over a year. I started seeing an overweight girl come a couple of evenings and run. She will never know it – but seeing that she could run made me want to try. I ran a 5k last year because of her example.

  11. Cathy Kelemen

    I love this! Thank you for sharing. I am very pregnant and have vowed to run (couch to 5K program) after this baby so we can be a running family! This was truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Amy R

    Oh my gosh, if I didn’t know I hadn’t written this, I would have thought I wrote it! There are a couple ladies running at the park I run by and I think the same things. I sometimes have to tell myself not to yell out “you go girls” because it is 5:30 in the morning and I don’t want to scare them or for them to think I’m making fun in any way. But I’ve been there. I recount when I see them how I would run ONLY in the dark so no one could see me. I’ve been there and I say…. “you go girls (and guys)”, celebrate the accomplishments!!!

  13. Jax

    The emotions surprisingly came back of those first days at the track. It may not show on the outside , but I will always be a fat girl at heart!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. Suzi Balleisen

    Well written and spot on post. I only wish my stint at running didn’t end in a terrible foot injury. But agreed, I can use this piece as a metaphor for what I can do instead :)

  15. Suzanne Johnson

    How touching that was! You are right, it’s not always about being about being fat. To that I can attest. What’s the addage… A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step, and I’ll add, the next and the next. Bless all of us that are are engaged in taking those first painful steps and bless all of you incredible and supportive friends and strangers. This couldn’t have landed in my inbox at a better moment. Thank you!!

  16. Pam Hurley

    Thank you so much for sharing this. As a “Fat Girl” who is often afraid of what people think, this meant so much to me!

  17. Chelsea

    My thoughts… Well, other than a very heartfelt understanding to every word that was said, I know it’s so true. I’ve made my move to start running, haven’t made it to running quite yet, but I do go out and walk three to five times a week. I try to walk in a quick pace, one step in front of the other, with my head held high and at times it gets difficult. Mostly because of my own negative thoughts about how other people might be seeing me. Flint has it right though. I try to remind myself of what Flint stated. It takes so much more internal strength and dedication for a newbie (especially a fat one) to get out there to run than the ones that have been doing it since high school or middle school or whatever. The starting out takes more dedication because it’s not a habit yet, it’s not comfortable for us. It’s quite the opposite. For those seasoned runners, their comfort is running. So we’re expanding ourself each moment we get on the track or hit the road, we are tearing off our comfort blanket, stepping into unknowns for ourselves, and sometimes we’re doing it solo. We most certainly need to remember our own strength in what we’re doing out there, on the track or in the gym. We doing it for us… no one else!

    Thanks for the awesome post, it’s still got me all teary and feeling kind of awesome! Now, back to deep cleaning the house! :) With a little more spunk and push than before!! Thanks!

  18. Nikki

    This? This made me smile. I was once that “fat girl” shyly running alongside the other fit, athletic girls. Too embarrassed by my own sweat, heavy breathing, and bulky body to look up and run with more confidence. Now, 120 pounds gone from my body, I see that “fat girl” in other faces and I want to high five them. I want to shout out…you go, girl! You rock those running steps and be proud!

  19. kels

    While I understand where this post is coming from and appreciate what the writer probably set out to do, I do take some offense to the idea that a “fat girl” needs the approval of a fit runner. Im obese and I work out. I avoid eye contact and blare my music because I am focusing on my self. I do not need validation from a thin person. Also, I may be obese, but I am so much more than just a “fat girl”. Being fat isnt my key identifier, its simply one physical aspect of me. I am smart, funny, loyal, sexy, witty, sarcastic, bright, kind, caring, and beautiful. This writer is saying that it must take extreme courage to get out of bed and go to the gym when I look like I do, but it doesnt because I am me and I am awesome. So calling me “fat girl” instead of my name, makes it seem like until I am thin, all I can be is the “fat girl”.

    1. Andie


      I think this is a crucial point you make. Thank you. You are absolutely right that we are all so much more than the descriptive words used to refer to us. None of us needs the validation of someone else to know our worth (much less because of something as superficial as size). We don’t need an avid runner’s approval to run. We can own that all by ourselves.

      I get you and I’m glad to hear your point of view.

      What I appreciate about the use of ‘fat girl’ here is that it evokes a strong emotion within me, and because hearing that is so deeply personal, it allows me to really sink into the whole piece, to really feel it.

      Thanks for writing,

    2. Amy R

      Maybe I misinterpreted the post, but I never thought it was meant to imply (and I never meant my previous post to imply) myself or any other seasoned runner need to give our approval or the so called “fat girl” needs the approval of seasoned runners. I felt it was saying we’ve been there and we want the “fat girl” to feel proud of her efforts and not ashamed. After reading many of the responses to this post, it seems everyone wants the girl to feel success/proud and not shame which we’ve all felt being there before. But unfortunately we’ve all felt the shame because we think others are thinking negatively of us.

    3. Kristen

      I thought about this as well when I first read it. But, I don’t think that it is meant to say that it’s hard for any overweight person to get out of bed to go to the gym just because he/she is overweight. I don’t think that the post is meant to say that being fat is the key identifier, but wanting to be healthy or lose weight is what gets you out there to begin with. And that just happens to be what other people see as you’re starting your journey to being fit.
      When I read this post I thought about one of the many times I decided to try to start running. I would run for a minute and then have to stop to walk, run then walk, over and over. Then, I was walking around a corner and decided to start running again. When I looked up, an older man was running toward me and gave me a nod and quietly clapped his hands a few times. He didn’t think of me as the fat girl who had a hard time getting out of bed, but as someone starting a difficult journey.
      No “fat girl” needs the approval of other super fit runners, but someone who is starting a difficult journey could always use a little encouragement from someone who knows what it’s like to start that same journey.

    4. Big Lovely

      Here, here Kels! As a “fat girl”, I’m so glad for a cultural heritage that likes a little meat on a woman.

      While I appreciate the sharing and the writing, I can’t get down with the it. Because, like yourself … I’ve always been proud of me and whatever the “shell” I come in. What a world we live in, where one must shrink and cower in supposed low-self esteem because one is overweight. Like my 86 year old mother says, “I’ve been big all my life, and that ain’t NEVER stopped me from getting a man or living my life.” And? She is still pulling them in. Thanks Kels, and happy fitness girlfriend. Everyone’s feelings of weight are “to each her own”. I just wish that other people’s issues were not projected upon me. I’m okay with my path and how I’m walking it towards a healthier being.

  20. Michelle

    Thank you for this story. I’m crying. Sobbing actually. You see, I AM THE fat girl. I am obese my body is ugly. I know no one wants to see me because I don’t want to see myself. Last year, I tried so hard to lose weight. I managed to lose 55 lbs. I didn’t run, but I began riding my bicycle. Then, after nine painfully long months of weight loss. I QUIT. Yep, I quit. Fell off the wagon. And I haven’t gotten back on. I gained back EVERY STINKING OUNCE that I managed to lose. And I don’t think I have the strength to do it again. So, yes, I am THE fat girl. And I’m crying.

    1. Amy R

      A few inspirational quotes/sayings found here and there I try to keep going as a mantra, especially when I’ve been off that wagon. Recently lost 10 lbs in my journey a year ago, put it all back on in the fall/winter. Spent Feb.-July beating myself up for letting myself down and thought of my 1st quote below I had found.
      *Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
      *There is no one giant step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps.
      Beating myself up was definitely not getting me closer to my goals. So far I’ve gone back to using a nutrition/fitness tracker and have lost 3 lbs. in the 3 weeks. This is where 2nd quote sparks my motivation. I recently decided that I refuse to call it a diet, it is my healthy journey. I forgave myself and I am moving on. I hope you can too.

  21. Merbear

    Loved this. It made me feel some great emotions. I’m desperately trying to lose 15 more pounds. I’ve now plateaued and the last 15 are hard. When I run I rarely look at people coming towards me. Loved this post.

  22. Kate

    I hate to disrupt the consensus, but I found that post to be incredibly condescending. I’m not fat–or at least that’s what my friends tell me, friends who are half or even 1/3 my size and whose weight is distributed on their bodies in ways society deems attractive. I am not “obese”–but I am “overweight”, my sack-of-potatoes body is graceless and ungainly, and every time I pick up a sport I feel like I am fighting my body, trying to force it to do something it was not made to do. I long to look “fit” and to feel as physically capable as my friends who see hiking (e.g.) as fun instead of torture. But if someone were to ever speak to me in the tone of this post I would slap the bejesus out of them. I don’t need anyone’s patronizing “admiration”.

  23. Patricia

    I know some people find the “fat girl” thing to be condescending, but I know that’s how I feel when I go to the gym. I’m one of the fat girls. I’m the big girl in the corner of the room trying to keep to myself. There’s no denying it. I know I’m big, and I know everyone else knows it too. Who am I to everyone else in the gym if no one knows my name? I’m that big girl who is ever so slowly getting smaller.

    I don’t think anyone would ever walk up to someone and say “Hey fatty, nice work, I’m really proud of you for trying to run.” I think that the post is really just speaking to the way we bigger people assume others perceive us.

    I really appreciate this post because I think bigger people can be so scared of working out in front of others. We shouldn’t be afraid. The last place someone should make fun of a bigger person is a place where they are truly making an effort to get healthy. If someone thinks that is the time and place to make fat jokes, they are the ridiculous ones. It’s nice to know there are people put there who see us improving ourselves and appreciate it.

    PS… Love love love this blog, super inspiring, and quite well written!

    1. Miriam

      Couldn’t agree more Patricia! Loved the way you wrote “I’m that big girl who is ever so slowly getting smaller” – exactly how I feel every single day!

      I’m 20kg down, and my friends and family see and know everything that I’ve put into this weight loss journey, but to everyone else – I’m still that big girl sweating it out at the gym, making the change happen every day!

      All I can say is – Go us!

  24. Camille

    What a great and inspiring article.. I am 100+ pounds overweight and have been going to the gym and weight watchers trying to loose weight and at first I was so embarrased to go thinking everyone was staring at me but I kept going and have even made some really good friends at the gym. Thanks for sharing your story as well, I love reading this blog, keeps me going!

  25. Berit

    yes, Yes YES that is exactly what I think when someone crosses me during my jogging round and obviously struggles. I always smile at them in what I hope is an encouraging smile, because I know so well how hard it was for me when I started. Then they pass me by, look all insecure and I hope they did not mistake my smile for me laughing at them :-(

  26. Heidi

    The spirit of the story is moving and motivating. I don’t find the name Fat Girl offensive because I am fat and I am a girl. I felt the author wasn’t judging or condescending, he was proud that this fat girl doesn’t stay at home and do nothing because society says you should be ashamed and absent from view. It was a fist-pump for a gal who is strong enough to put her health before her fears and get out there. I put my two babies in the stroller and went for a walk after reading it. THANK YOU!

  27. Bridget

    At 250 pounds I signed up for my first half marathon. When I ran it I weighed about 230 pounds- many thought I couldn’t do it. I knew I could. Even my mom questioned if it was safe for me to run because of my weight. Safe? Huh? I ran the entire 13.1 miles in about 3:10 not stopping at all. I came in close to last for my age group- but I was out there doing it. I have been chasing that feeling of awesomeness ever since and I can’t seem to reach it- I don’t know why. So- this post continues to be me every time I set out to try again. I am back to struggling with one mile being self consious, not fitting into work out clothes, sweating myself silly, but I am out there doing it. I will get there again. This post was very motivating. Thanks!

  28. Laura

    I LOVE everything about this post. Coming out of a 7 year relationship that involved a ton of verbal and emotional abuse (and constantly wondering why I emotionally ate the whole time), I am currently the fat girl as I try to come to terms with why my relationship ended and learn to love and respect myself and discontinue to use food as an escape. That said, as I begin exercising regularly (one week in!) after 5 months of “falling apart”, as I figured out how toxic my relationship was, I AM that girl. This post is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Mandi

    That was unbelievable. I can identify with every bit of that entry. I’ve lost 135 pounds and still find myself feeling like “the fat girl.” That post is inspirational and I’m so glad that you shared!

  30. Moira

    I have recently started doing spinning classes alongside young, beautiful, Lululemon-clad girls. I usually wear my industrial sports bra, a workout tank, and a cotton v-neck shirt over it. I’ve always been too embarrassed to take off the cotton shirt, even though I am hot and sweaty. After reading this, I was like, “Screw this. I am here. I am doing this. Look at my fat rolls.” And I wore the clingy workout tank. It felt good.

  31. Sarah

    Andie – this touched me so much… And made me cry! At 33 I still battle with my weight and the shame that comes from being ‘that’ girl. Some days I’ve got it covered, other days I don’t. It is what it is and I’m commited to the changes I’ve made.

    Thanks for sharing x

  32. Chris C

    This brought me to tears. Very inspiring words. It’s a shame that “fat girl” probably doesn’t see herself the way this woman does. I know how “fat girl” feels…because I am where she is at. Thanks again Andie for the inspiration.

  33. karla

    I am that fat girl. 6 months ago I decided to start the C25K program and I wasn’t able to run 4 steps without overwhelming terror filling my heart. At week 6 there is a 20 min run, it was not pretty, it was not sexy but I finished. I have never been so proud. This article gave me hope that not everyone was laughing at me. Even more than that, the article showed me that I can be proud of what I can do and what I am training to do. I am expecting my second child and I cannot wait to begin training again. Who would have thought, me…a runner.

  34. alex

    i started riding my new bicycle after 10 years, every evening, and i love it! always will. i’ve lost 6kg in 2 weeks.

  35. MRL

    Wow – like so many others that have posted, I too am “that Fat Girl.” My self conscienceness and concern for what others are thinking and my fear of always being the “weakest link” has inhibited me for far too long. Several years ago, I completed a half marathon. I started with the goal of running it, but ended up walking the majority but I finished! Oh my goodness it was awful – I wanted nothing more than to sneak off the course and never to be seen again – but I didn’t. I knew that every runner out there that was passing me was expecting just that of the “fat girl” and my determination to prove them wrong was stronger than my desire to give up. And what an amazing feeling when I crossed that line!! Even though it was terrifically long Chip time, I didn’t care. I did it!!
    Alas, I was unable to hold onto that feeling of success and I let my old ways back in. I feel like an addict that fell off the wagon. I have recently made the decision to get back on track and have signed up for a “Boot Camp” class to get me jumpstarted. I am terrified – I know full well that I will be “the weakest link” when show up. I have butterflies in my stomach already even though the class doesnt start for 3 more days – mostly due to the anticipation of how “the fat girl” will received and judged upon arrival. I accidentally tripped across your post and I am so glad that I did. This post helped me to remember that amazing accomplishment of the 1/2 marathon and quell the angst surrounding the beginning of what I hope is a successful journey!! Oh Lord, give me strength – ha! Thank you

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  37. Trisha

    We are always so critical of ourselves. I’ve always wondered what the “real” athletes think of me when I’m struggling to jog for 5 minutes and what I’ve come up with is always so negative. I think we don’t give people enough credit. They aren’t looking at us critically, they are probably actually admiring our efforts. It is so important to step outside and look at yourself with a kind eye, and I think this really illustrates that.

    For me, it’s not what others are thinking, it’s what I THINK others are thinking… so it’s just my own insecurities piping up.

    This is an excellent reminder to keep on trying to be kind to myself.

  38. Stephanie

    I love this, and not only to the “fat girl” but like some of the other comments noted – anyone out on the track giving it their all deserves some encouragement.

  39. Becky

    What a great message! I wish more people would believe in the good they are doing for themselves and to be kinder to themselves. I’m a dietitian and work with people everyday who are so ashamed of what they can’t do or what they shouldn’t have eaten. It’s so important to remember the positive things you did do and what you accomplished. This piece helped point that out.
    Thank you! Also-Thank you for your blog. It is so amazing and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your journey with us all!

  40. Kristina

    Thank you so much for sharing this Andie!! I loved it. In high school I was a cheerleader and on the track team (secretly I hated running and quit after 2 years). But now, at 31 I’m having those weight struggles and I’m not quite sure how to fit healthy solutions into a busy life. A full time job, 4 year old son, and part time college courses will really take a toll on you. To even think about going to a track and running makes me cringe ( I can’t even bring myself to run in my own neighborhood). I always think that everyone is looking and staring. I’m not terribly overweight, but enough to make someone think I shouldn’t be running. But to know that someone might actually be admiring something I do and not staring in disgust….well that’s just a little more motivation to get out there and do it. Thank you!

  41. Rebecca

    I recently have found your blog and have been going through every post to the point that my boyfriend has said I have every meal planned for us for the next year lol. This post though; this is me.
    I use to be a marathoner, and quite a decent runner. In 2010 I ran the Goofy Challenge at Disney; I was passionate and found so much confidence in running. Over the last 2 years, I have gained over 50lbs. Bad decisions, no exercise, stressful school program, I could blame many things, but in true, I just lost who I am. I want to run. I see other runners (Including both my sisters who ran in Disney this past weekend) and it makes my heart ache. I do not run for a couple reasons now. One: It is hard, it hurts, and instead of giving me confidence it makes me feel bad about myself. Two: I am this girl in the article. I don’t want people to see me, my running clothes don’t fit properly, I am embarrassed that people will think “that fat girl has no business trying to run”… Totally irrational…I’m aware. Thank you for posting this article Andie. It has spoken to me in more ways than you could ever imagine, and thank you for your blog. I hope you recognize what you do for those of us at home.


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