Is it condescending to congratulate an overweight person for exercising?
That’s the question of the moment, after someone posted an anonymous letter on Reddit titled ‘To the fatty running on the Westview track this afternoon’. The ‘fatty’ in question then saw the letter, and responded.
It all started when someone on their afternoon jog was so moved by the overweight person they saw running along the same track, that they immediately went home and wrote an open letter about it on Facebook:
To the fatty running on the Westview track this afternoon:
You, whose feet barely lift off the ground as you trudge around the track. You, who keeps to the outside lane, footslogging in the wrong direction.
You, who stops for water breaks every lap, and who would probably stop twice a lap if there were bleachers on both sides. You, whose gaze drops to your feet every time we pass. You, whose sweat drenches your body after you leave, completing only a single, 20-minute mile.
There’s something you should know: You f**ing rock.
Every shallow step you take, you carry the weight of more than two of me, clinging to your bones, begging to be shaken off. Each lap you run, you’re paying off the debt of another midnight snack, another desser, another beer.
It’s 20 degrees outside, but you haven’t let that stop your regimen. This isn’t your first day out here, and it certainly won’t be your last. You’ve started a journey that lasts a lifetime, and you’ve started it at least 12 days before your New Year’s resolution kicks in.
You run without music, and I can only imagine the mantras running through your mind as you heave your ever-shrinking mass around the next lap. Let’s go, feet. Shut up, legs. F**k off, fat. If you’d only look up from your feet the next time we pass, you’d see my gaze has no condescension in it.
I have nothing but respect for you. You’ve got this.
Someone took a screenshot of the letter, posted it on Reddit, and as these things tend to do, it went viral.
The people on the internet who argue about things immediately began arguing about whether the letter was offensive or not. One camp of commenters considered the letter extremely condescending and lacking in self-awareness; the other camp found the letter lovely and inspiring.
But then someone unexpected joined the debate: The ‘fatty’ the letter was addressed to responded. He found the letter insulting. On his blog, Tony Ponanski wrote the following: