Community To the Runners Who Told Me I Need to Lose Weight, I...

    To the Runners Who Told Me I Need to Lose Weight, I Will Never Stop, Ever

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    I still remember since my childhood, my body image kept changing ever since being diagnosed with my thyroid cancer.  I kept seeing body changes until I got made fun of as the words “thunder thighs” came up even after I became a South Asian Tamil Runner and started wearing shorts and looks that show my true self. It made me uncomfortable as they showed my body and every imperfection. They showed my stretch marks. My body/battle scars. It would fold onto itself, the moment I leaned forward, and it showed my thighs and their stretch marks.

    It showed it all.

    Like any human, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Instead of enjoying things out of my comfort zone, I would wear baggy shirts/shorts to hide my body, hoping that I would have a better chance at looking good. Did I really have to hide my image or body just because I’m not fitting into the “normal” body type?

    I’m proud of my body and I’m fine with it not fitting into someone else’s standards. With many years of heartbreak, failure, anxiety, depression, medical/mental health issues, loss, fear and loneliness, I’ve been through a lot. There have been a lot of issues and emotions that I had to work through over the years and I never thought I would have to go through this path.

    Being bullied most of my life didn’t help.

    As a survivor, I used to think that I had to always have it all together. I thought I had to be the perfect version of me to be the best woman I could be, but I was far from that. This is me working towards myself despite my obstacles and figuring out the issues that I had to face on my own. It’s me working through the feelings of major changes happening in my life and it’s me accepting that healing isn’t linear and it’s OK not to have all the right responses and be filled with many emotions.

    I started my running journey to control my body fluctuations, as a weight loss journey. I loved staying active, but it was something I needed to do for my physical and mental health. Running wasn’t my therapy; it was my safe place. I was able to lose over 90 pounds, but I know my body fluctuations will keep happening as I get older. That’s OK. I’m a woman/human being and I continued to love every inch of it of my journey.

    I have made my journey all about showcasing my true and authentic self, so I started to get out of my comfort zone and share more of my story.

    Over the last several weeks I have been dealing with more body/fat shaming comments about my appearance both on and offline. This has been affecting my mental health. My legacy as a Runner/South Asian Eelam Tamil woman has been to level up the playing field and to keep spreading awareness on body positivity in the running culture. I believe the running community is and must always be inclusive of all body types, and everyone should be respected—always.

    I have been facing unfair judgments, harassment and bullying on how I look and just my overall body fluctuations, even after my magazine cover release. My current medical journey with new conditions has been hard to deal with. So getting messages like “your face got “chubby,” “your body got “fatter,” and “you need to lose weight,” truly hurts. You can’t define me and my body isn’t yours to critique or discuss. My life is filled with ongoing pain, traumas, struggles from mental/cancer battles, which I am still dealing with and healing from.

    My body allows me to view it with love and gratitude, as not everyone is blessed with my ability to run. I am fortunate to be in the body I have, and I will do everything I can to embrace it rather than tearing it down. I’m here to help others and show that you are a runner/athlete no matter your size, ethnicity, sexuality or how fast or slow you are.

    Being a mental health and thyroid cancer survivor and advocate brought me here and negative comments about my appearance are not going to stop me.

    I share this as any negative words or actions can hurt someone and that everyone should feel good about themselves just as they are. Body positivity gave me freedom that comes from letting go of expectations others have for me and my body.

    My body is going keep changing. I have a runner’s body. I am a runner and I am still alive. Running has brought many blessings, opportunities and keeps reminding me that owning who you are is the best thing you could do for yourself—however you look.

    Whoever you are.

    Reminder: our bodies are always changing and they will never remain exactly the same. No one deserves to be body-shamed. Accept people for who they are. We’re all different and none of us are perfect. What is perfect, anyways? We all deserve self-worth, and to feel that happiness and comfort in our own bodies. Keep standing up for others who experience body shaming as, step by step, the running community can help make the world a kinder, more compassionate place. Please, everyone: respect our bodies like our sanctuaries. Stop listening to negative self-talk. Keep moving your body and love it—because it loves you.

    It makes you strong, badass, confident—an unstoppable human being. Embrace every single part of your story—the good and the bad. You’re both deserving and capable of whatever it is you want, no matter what.

    My hope is that you will love your body more each and every day, year after year of your life. That you will own your body image and not let it be distorted by another person. You will see how incredible your body is. This is me and I am going to keep OWNING IT. My body, my powerful vessel, is my temple.

    I will continue to honour you, my body, today and every day, because you complete me.

    Photographs by @coreofyoureye – Koray Core-Eye Salih

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