First of all, thanks to everyone who responded to my post asking for questions – you’ll see the answers in blog posts coming up, if you have a question feel free to ask! On to today’s post:
I workout late at night so usually I’m the only one in the pool at my gym. Occasionally that’s not the case, and my last swim was definitely one of those nights. I walked into the pool to see a bunch of people in the hot tub, two guys in swim caps and goggles horsing around in one lane, a serious swimmer doing laps in another lane, and a girl learning to swim while a guy (who I later learned was her boyfriend) stood on the edge of the pool shouting “PULL! PULL!”
The only lane open was between the lap swimmer and the two dudes horsing around. I got in and moved to the lane. I’ve chosen Total Immersion style swimming and so I start every swim with some drills that probably look a little silly to those who don’t know TI. “Supermans,” “Skating” etc. I used to be a little self-conscious about this when other people were around but it’s amazing how much training for this IM is lowering my fear of looking like an ass in public.
So I get through the 20 minutes of drill and stroke practice, and start on the day’s swim – 12 laps of 144m (my gym pool is 18m long so this constitutes 4 lengths) working on being a little faster than my “all day effort” time, and then a 72 meter cool down. I like these less than when I’m just swimming for distance and time because I have to mess with counting laps, timing my rest etc.
So I start swimming and on my second lap I realize that the two dudes who were horsing around are now posted up in the middle of the lane, and when I go by them and turn my head to breathe, they moo at me.
I think that I must be mistaken, but I go by on the next lap and it happens again except now one of them is mooing at me above water and the other is underwater and seems to be mooing as well, or at least screaming something. Charming. I decide that there probably isn’t much sense in talking to them (people who moo at fat people clearly not being armed for a battle of wits or a meaningful discussion.)
The lap swimmer is gone and I momentarily wonder if the girl and her boyfriend can hear them but she’s struggling to stay above water, he’s still screaming “PULL PULL” so I imagine that they are pretty focused on what they are doing – the dudes aren’t being loud about it, just loud enough so I can hear them. I’m also not about to mess up my lap time goals for these jerks so I just keep swimming. I take my next rest break and they get out of the pool and head to the locker room. Even if I wanted to complain about them I couldn’t identify them.
As I was finishing getting dressed the girl from the pool came into the locker room. She looked at me and seemed to hesitate for a moment, then said “You looked so good swimming!”
I said thanks and she told me that she is just learning and asked her boyfriend, who is teaching her, if she would ever be able to swim like me. That took me a bit aback. As a dancer people used to say things like that to me, but one of the things that I resigned myself to in the IM training is that those kinds of compliments wouldn’t really be happening anymore. We chatted a bit more, I told her the compliment had made my day, and then we parted ways.
What I didn’t tell her about was the moo-ing incident and how she had restored my faith in humanity. I don’t always blog about the bullshit that I deal with because I fear that it might discourage others from trying. But I do think it’s important to talk about the ways that fatphobia is showing up on my IM journey, and important to be clear that it will not stop me, and that a big part of my activism is to just show up and refuse to leave and I hope that I can help other fat people decide to do the same. I have a long road ahead of me, I’ll meet more haters and I’ll meet more supporters and regardless of the numbers of either, the support will always outweigh the hate.
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