I have now finished Run Fat Bitch Run by Ruth Field. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I wish I’d never started it. The basic idea of most of us perhaps needing to be a little more honest with ourselves and stop deluding ourselves about our healthy eating and exercise habits is perhaps a good one. The idea of locating and becoming aware of your inner bitch is perhaps also a useful exercise. Getting more people out there and taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing is also a good thing and getting people to walk then run a little and a little more and a little more works for me. So why do I dislike the book? Well, let’s see if I can articulate this
- I am not stupid – the book presumes I am. It is patronising to the extreme
- Fat does not equal stupid, lazy, incapable of self-discipline – the book presumes it does
- Standing naked in front of a mirror telling yourself how fat you are – who does that? I mean WTF. I just can’t see anyone who has ever been actually fat doing that. I have one full length mirror in the house and it is placed so that it is virtually impossible for me to accidentally see myself. Ruth does acknowledge that you need to have a sense of humour about this – well I’m sorry but the only way you can have a sense of humour about calling yourself a fat bitch if actually you are not fat and never have been – otherwise it just isn’t funny!
- I am not running – and neither should you – because it will make you look hot and be cool on a date. Women, you are not doing any of this for anyone other than you. If you want to run – go for it. If you think your man or men in general will like you better if you run – just fuck right off. It has got absolutely nothing to do with them.
- The presumption of heterosexuality really pissed me off in this book. It is of course everwhere but somehow it hit me with this one. Through much of the book gender neutral terms like ‘partner’ and ‘they’ are used but not everywhere. Ruth has a particular view of women and that view strikes me as seeing women as heterosexual, needing to conform to traditional beauty standards and gender roles. I may of course be wrong. I know nothing about Ruth …
- …I don’t think Ruth and I would get along. She says she was a sporty kid. So that’s that then, we won’t get along. I am very suspicious of sporty kids. I wasn’t one – they always picked me last. I should be careful here. My girlfriend was a very sporty kid – she would have picked me last too but luckily most of life isn’t like PE lessons.
- If Ruth was a sporty kid she can’t know what coming from nothing is really like. If you have never been sporty, if you always managed to get out of sportsday, if you never ever ever had a positive experience related to physical exercise – ever you have nothing to draw on. You simply just don’t understand that moving your butt off the sofa can be linked to a positive experience. I don’t think she gets that – in fact I am not sure I get that. I wasn’t sporty but I did have one or two things I was good at. I could swim pretty well before most people my age left flotation aids behind and I started horseriding when I was about 6. I do have a vague memory bank of sweat and physical exertion not being all bad. It’s not much but sometimes it keeps me going for an additional 30 seconds or so.
- The inner bitch – ok , my initial reaction was to laugh – alot. How bloody juvenile but actually now, inner bitch works for me what doesn’t is calling her the Grit Doctor. That’s just weird. Ruth’s inner bitch surely is just Ruth…
- Turning your inner bitch against you is not a good idea – ever. I can’t speak for anyone else but let me try and explain how me and my inner bitch get along: She is my harshest critic, she sees all the negatives and she is very quick to point out any shortcomings. She doesn’t motivate me to do things, she tells me I can’t do them. She doesn’t leave room for the possibility that I can do things. BUT SHE IS LYING because ultimately my inner bitch is just a symbol of all my insecurities in the same way that the black labrador puppy is a symbol of my depression. She needs confronting and she needs to stop spouting all this stuff without giving evidence. If my inner bitch were a student I would be saying she needs to cite all her sources and build up an argument based on credible and well researched evidence – but she can’t because all the evidence points to the fact that I CAN DO THIS. My inner bitch looks remarkably like Liv Tyler in the Lord of the Rings films – go figure.
- The book did not motivate me. It did not make me want to run. It made me want to curl up on my sofa with a cup of coffee and a packet – yes a packet – of chocolate digestives and maybe a packet of crisps – a big sharing size packet of crisps – and of course the staple of all fat people a bar of dairy milk and stick two fingers up at Ruth and her Grit Doctor. ‘If running means being more like you’, I said in my mind, ‘I’d much much rather stay on the couch’
- There are other things I don’t like in the book – like the ‘don’t stretch because you probably won’t know how to do them right anyway’ thing which is just stupid. If you want to run then learn what other things you can and should do to minimise injury risk. Different people do different stretches at different times and you need to work out what works for you but not stretching because you don’t know how and can’t be bothered to find out is just idiotic.
OK, that’s enough of an assasination of the book. I am very aware that I am probably not being fair. I hope that the approach described in the book is genuine and really does work for Ruth and that it isn’t just a bit of fat shaming and making sporty types feel superior and better about themselves. I hope that people who have read it have found it helpful and have gone on to figure out the running or not running thing for themselves. As for me, I am glad I didn’t read this book when I was at my 16 stone plus heaviest. I would have read it and cried, read it and unleashed my inner bitch who would have crushed me. She wouldn’t have said anything, she would have just smirked and with that smirk my running dreams would have been over. I am glad that I read the book after having run a half marathon because my inner bitch is no longer so sure of herself, because I have a chance of drowning her out and because I am learning not to take her too seriously
Run Jess Run and somedays I will be faster than my inner bitch and she’ll just have to suck it up.