Is What You See Really What You Get? The paradox of your reality versus actuality and being a ‘skinny’ runnerchick

How accurate is your version of yourself compared to what other people see you as? Going further I’m sure what other people would describe you as probably differs even between the person being asked.
running dream
I’ve got a runner’s build. I’m smaller than the ‘average’ woman but I don’t feel like I’m out of place small. I feel normal…whatever that is. Put me in a group of athletic, endurance-based women and I’d say I probably blend in.

But I’ve been out running on the road before and had someone yell at me from their car, “Stop running girl…go eat! You look like a praying mantis!” (on a side-note, praying mantis, really? I mean of all things to compare a skinny person to, that one threw me…haha.) I got annoy, pissed even and shouted back, “Fudge you, I could eat you under the table!” Which I’m sure is the honest to goodness truth. I get peeved because in our culture it seems taboo to make fun of a fat person, but it’s okay to hate on the skinnier folk? Just saying.

girl boxer

I would have liked to punch the dude in the face. :)

If I’m in the middle of pushing myself or doing a hard workout I’m not fooling myself into believing I look pretty. My form has gotten better, I did a LOT of work on it, but I’ll never be one of those people who can make it look effortless…like a machine. I consciously remind myself to relax, drop my shoulders, but I’m sure I look heinous and most likely with some kind of spit clinging to my cheek.

I’ve done tempo runs on the treadmill and I’m sure I’ve looked quite the sight busting my bum, praying that if I bump up the speed just a hair more I can sustain it and not be thrust off the back of the machine. My pounding feet probably echo in the gym, others who don’t ‘get’ the running thing probably think I’m just insane.

The thing is, at that point I really don’t care. Seriously, I’d rather run a few seconds faster on that stupid treadmill, risk the chance of being shot off the back, even if that means earning a ‘freak’ moniker. I do know that anyone who is a ‘runner runner’ would understand and probably not even bat an eye, as they are amidst their own workouts.

To the guy in the car, I’m fully aware I’m not an obese American woman, still smaller than ‘average’ whatever that is. I know I don’t have a chest, JLo from the Block (I know she’s since moved on past that old nickname but I like it) with her booty I am not…but my legs are strong, they are muscular. My arms are defined and not the old hummingbird wings of my pre-weight lifting days.
eating pop tarts
I’m fine with it. I also kind of like the look of shock on peoples’ face when the runnerchick IS able to eat them under the table. So eat that, praying mantis!

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Disclaimer: of course there is a point of being unhealthily small and no one should feel pressured to go through unhealthy behaviors to look a certain way. At the root of it all, it’s about being happy in WHO you are, whatever that ends up looking like. I think sports/fitness can help with self-confidence.

Along the same lines of body image, SkinnyRunner did an interesting post today about Crystal Renn, a model who started out in runway but later admitted she could only maintain that frame due to an eating disorder. She then gained weight, became a plus-sized model, and a major advocate AGAINST traditional models and runway. Now, this same woman is back to a slighter self and on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which has led to a backlash amongst the plus-sized community. Interesting stuff to chew on and mull over.

Last note tied to the perception of ourselves and how it varies between who is looking at us…in the seriously now annoying craze of those meme picture frames with the black backdrop with various photo-cropped pictures of ‘how I see myself’, ‘how my mom sees me’, ‘how my co-workers see me’, etc…The Faster Bunny did a funny one on runners.
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1) How would you say your perception of yourself may be different from how someone else would describe you? And WHO is that someone else, and how would that change depending on who that person is?

2) How do you define yourself or be happy with what/who you are? How has being athletic effected that if at all?
Running, or being active, really helped me be more secure with myself. More-so because I saw my body as a vessel to actually DO something rather than aesthetics alone. But I won’t lie, if I were to say, to gain 30 pounds I wouldn’t be happy…but that’s more because I wouldn’t be happy with myself, or feel comfortable with myself, not so much because of anything anyone else may say or think.

3) How much does what other people think or tell you really effect or matter to you?
Now I’d say I’m to the point where unless you are a close friend or family member, it doesn’t bug me. But I think that comes with age, when I was in high school it mattered to me a lot more.

4) We all have strengths and weaknesses…name one of each.
strength: loyal and self-motivated
weakness: I talk too much and have no fast twitch muscle fibers

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12 Responses to Is What You See Really What You Get? The paradox of your reality versus actuality and being a ‘skinny’ runnerchick

  1. I love this! I’m definitely not the smallest in the runner crowd, but the fact that people think it’s okay to harass skinny people makes me furious. I absolutely hate it when people use the term “anorexic” like it’s not a serious issue and anyone who is skinny can be labeled that way. Seriously though, a praying mantis?! That’s gotta be the weirdest thing I’ve heard!!

    Being athletic has completely changed my life – running > antidepressants, let’s just put it that way!

  2. Fear not, those cat-calls gone bad happen to everyone. I’m not super skinny and I’ve dealt with eating disorders, sort of still do. But I’ve had a lot of weird things yelled at me. For example “that is the biggest a$$ I’ve EVER seen on a little white girl!” thank you, gentleman at the Jiffy Lube. But I’m glad you fired back and have a healthy perspective. I love the idea of athletics helping you be proud of your body as a vessel. Great message. What can my body do?! Beauty, as much as it sounds like a pat answer really is so different for each person. okay, strength – discipline and determination. I am anything but lazy; weakness- self doubt which annoyingly leads to indecision way too often

    • great point about beauty being different for everyone! okay, and seriously, i hope u clocked the A-hole at jiffy lube…tho he and his pot-belly prolly meant it as a compliment. and do i find it incredibly easy to believe you are anything but lazy?? ;)

  3. I love this post!!! so true, seriously. I think people have a skewed view of what a “normal” size is in this country. I’m fairly small, but I don’t think anyone would ever say that I looked “too thin”. Blog pictures can be a little misleading, so for comparison, I’m the exact same size as Desiree Davila but maybe 3 pounds more. For me, I can’t be as thin as possible AND be a good runner – everyone’s different, but when my weight dips under 100 pounds, so does my energy levels and performance – lowering your weight doesn’t always equal speed gains. It took a lot of time for me to come to terms with that, but once I started to care about my running performance, I realized that my weight/size was a byproduct of my training, and that I should care more what my body can DO than what it looks like. It’s all relative though, when non-runners see me, they’re like “you’re sooooooo tiny!!” and then are floored when they see me eat haha.I think being an athlete has DEFINITELY helped me do a 180 with my body image. Right now, with the time off, I’m not at my smallest. But I’m oddly okay with that, because I know that my body reflects my training, and I know that I’m doing the best I can – and that if I’m smart and conservative now, like i have to be in order to get back on track, my body will be ready to adapt to hard work all the sooner. A year ago, I would’ve been incredibly upset about it and would probably still be exercising myself into the ground!

    • skewed is an understatement, honestly i think if most runnerchicks gained even 30lbs they would STILL get called skinny…lol. but on a more serious note, being thin doesn’t equate to being fast it’s just a by-product and where one person’s body is healthiest/fastest is different for everyone. running and weight is a tricky thing but like u, wat’s helped me really is realizing that performance should come first…wat good is being a ‘skinny’ runner if u can’t run the workouts! lol.

  4. I see myself as a very smooth runner :P Haha and I know it’s not true based on pictures my mom takes of me during my races.
    I define myself a a runner/athlete. I frankly just wrote a paper on it. Without running in my life I honestly don’t know if I’d be the person that I am today.
    I usually don’t care what other people think. If they think I’m cray cray for running so many miles at 6 in the morning or some random stuff who cares? But I do care how people see my body. Most of the time I’m pretty confident but there are those days where I think I have a tummy, or my flat chest is embarrassing or my lack of a ‘donk. But I just remember I’m built this way because I can run.
    Strength: motivated, driven (sometimes the point of worrying my mom)
    weakness: don’t know when to stop

    • i’m sure that was a rocking paper. and i’m the exact same way, my running has helped shape my life in ways i prolly don’t even recognized. in traits, learning lessons, meeting people, and well…like u said…i wouldn’t be the same person without it…haha.

  5. Yelling at someone for how they look is just NOT. OKAY. No matter what they look like.

    That guy’s a jerk. I wish you really could have had a pop tart victory over him :)

  6. Pingback: Runner ‘Tells’ and What Warrants Bragging Rights? |

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