Fat shaming is alive and well, but take heart: you don’t have to let the haters get you down.
That’s the message in REI’s video that follows ultra-runner Mirna Valerio of Rabun Gap, Georgia. But don’t let your preconceptions fool you. This girl kicks butt!
Mirna is many things, including a wife, mother, writer, and running enthusiast. She also happens to be plus-sized, but her weight doesn’t slow her down in any way, mentally or physically.
She just kicked off her running season with a daunting 50k race that would make lesser runners want to curl up in a ball somewhere.
Mirna trains every day and dedicates each weekend to competitive running, often running for over 12 hours per day through rain, sleet, mud, and snow. Mirna created “the Mirnavator,” helping others to achieve their own health and fitness goals through her friendly motivational blog and social media posts.
“I love my body the most when I’m out running. Even if it’s hard, and even if I’m having a bad day, I know that I have my body, and it works, and it is allowing me to do this thing. I feel very strong and powerful, and in that, I feel really beautiful.”
The video follows Mirna as she spends over 13 hours “running and hiking and crawling” 31 hilly, muddy miles at a race in North Carolina. Although she doesn’t have the typical runner’s body, she has found acceptance in her appearance because she knows exactly what her body is capable of — and it’s a lot.
“It’s not easy for me, but I love that about it. It’s not easy, but I’m still able to do it. I never thought that I could run 18 miles in one day, and then 10 miles the next, but I can. My body got this.”
Although Mirna is incredibly self-assured, she’s not immune to the unkind remarks others make about her weight. Other runners make insensitive remarks about her appearance all the time, but she enjoys proving them wrong every time she finishes a race.
“I do it because I do want to show people that it’s possible. I might not be fast, I may be the last person, but for me, that doesn’t matter.”
Halfway through the North Carolina race, however, Mirna made the mistake of checking her email while she had stopped to take a selfie for her Twitter fans. that’s when she received a soul-crushing note from a stranger that could have sidelined her.
“You are a liar and a fraud. A true professional runner is not overweight, which is what you are. You want to further fat acceptance and people to kill themselves over your perverse idea of beauty.”
“Why would somebody reach out to me and say that?” Mirna asked sadly. “Why would you want to do that? Why do you want to intentionally hurt people?”
Even though she is used to receiving hateful comments, this one particularly stung because it was the first time she had been personally targeted and insulted in this manner.
But true to form, Mirna’s indomitable spirit refused to be crushed by some mean words spewed out by a keyboard warrior she’d never even met before.
“I’m not a fraud. I run. I run slowly, and sometimes I walk, but I run. And I’m a big girl, I know that, but that doesn’t have anything to do with anything. I still get out there and run, I do what I need to do.”
“This is real. Fat-shaming is real. There’s a reason why people have body dysmorphia; it’s because of things like that. Because people can be so mean, and so limited in their view of what a human body can look like.”
Putting the email aside, Mirna finished the race strong, claiming the victory for herself and no one else.
“That was not that person’s moment; it was mine.”
“I know the truth. The truth is that I’m a runner. I am not a fraud.”
There’s a reason millions have watched her ferocious spirit. Mirna refuses to quit and has inspired countless others to take up running — no matter what anybody else thinks about it.
Mirna’s strength of character and inner motivation is inspiring to us all, and the nasty note she received is a good reminder for all of us to never judge a book by its cover. Also, if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your thoughts to yourself!
Watch Mirna take on the haters with grace in the video below, and be sure to share to encourage everyone to get healthy and let negativity roll off their back!