Ultramarathoner Latoya Shauntay Snell was fiercely pushing her way through the last four miles of the New York City Marathon, looking forward to finishing her eighth marathon in four years, when a man started heckling her for being a curvy runner.
Snell’s intense focus and joy was suddenly gone after a “tall, balding white man felt it appropriate to shout, ‘It’s gonna take your fat ass forever, huh?’ ” the fitness and food blogger writes in an essay for The Root.
“Shocked and angry, I stopped and retorted expletives and insults,” Snell says. “Two other female runners witnessed our confrontation and told me he wasn’t worth it. They were right, of course, but the damage was already done. By that point, I’d lost minutes and much-needed energy to a man who took pride in poking fun at my size.”
Snell writes that there was so much the man didn’t know when he made such a snide comment; for example, running was her way of getting through miscarrying twins in August, having emergency endometriosis surgery and dealing with racist comments on her blog.
He also didn’t know that just four years ago, when Snell was 265 lbs., she discovered a love of running and lost 50 lbs. She then went on to complete — in addition to the eight marathons — two 37.2-mile ultramarathons.
“As a mere spectator, he saw my 5-foot-3-inch, 218-pound body as a joke. And I — an exhausted runner who was so close but still so far from the finish line — fell for the bait, as he lured me with insults,” she writes.
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As Snell approached the finish line, she decided to push the man’s words out of her head.
“I felt content,” she says. “I didn’t need to harbor anger or aggression; that man wasn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last, to toss off a callous comment about my weight.”
“I’m fat. Full-figured. Thick. Plus-size. Powerful. Capable. Empowering. Phenomenal. And in the end, my real clapback that day came from the power of my thick legs shuffling me from New York’s Staten Island, across five boroughs and ending in the drizzling rain in Manhattan,” she writes.