I have a name, and “Hey Fatty” isn’t it.
While that wasn’t something I wanted to think about as I finished a difficult weekend training run, I choose to say thank you. Your drive-by shouting motivated me to muster the courage to write about an issue that took me twenty years to battle and process.
You don’t know me. And I don’t know you. My first mental reaction was filled with all sorts of words to describe your poor character, insensitivity, and immaturity. But for me to retaliate against you, even because of your unkind behavior, wouldn’t be right. I would be just as guilty as you.
I believe in loving my neighbor, spreading kindness, and overflowing with joy. I certainly fail at perfectly meeting that standard (especially during rush hour), but it’s the goal I strive toward. And not to “just be nice” or make me look like a good person, but because it honors God and displays love for my global neighbors.
I don’t know if you’re dealing with your own insecurities, caving to the peer pressure of a dare from a friend, or just having a bad day. If you are, I’m so sorry. Truly. I can’t imagine growing up as a teenager in this increasingly twisted era.
I’m a grown man and shouldn’t be hurt by the “sticks and stones” you threw at me—the random running stranger—but they did sting.
Men and boys didn’t talk about this when I was a teenager. After all, only girls struggle with body image, right? (Wrong.) Perhaps most guys never struggle with self-image issues. But I know I’m not the only one who did. I found a Desiring God article several years ago that was foundational for my recovery journey. This is a must-read for any guy struggling with his body image: The Epidemic of Male Body Hatred.
No matter how many times friends and family tried to encourage me—or how many times I tried to tell myself the same thing—it never matched how I saw myself in the mirror.
I’ve since repented of this but, in essence, I was an idolater worshiping at the altar of body image.
I bought into the cultural lie that all men should look like the “hottest” male celebrities and/or be a bearded Eagle Scout chopping down sequoias with a battle axe whilst simultaneously wearing flannel, smoking a cigar, downing several beers, and grilling fresh game using only flint, a Bowie knife, and a shovel.
I will never magically transform into Chris Hemsworth. And my metabolism certainly won’t level out to promote me to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson status. I imagine a chiseled, muscular body didn’t come naturally for these famous guys either. They’ve worked hard at being physically disciplined. Much of their attention is devoted to personal trainers, hours in the gym, and near-starvation diets. I sincerely don’t have time or dollars (or stomach) for that. I want to be healthy and take care of my body, sure. But not to the unrealistic extent of Hollywood extremes.
To make a long story short (too late): Did those two unkind words sting? Yes. Does that make me weak or less manly? No. How will I respond?
- I will give thanks for the body God tailor-made specifically for me. I’ll take care of it to the best of my ability. And I’ll keep running for His glory for as long as my body will physically endure.
- I will be an encourager for both guys and girls, young and old, short and tall, heavy and thin, abled and disabled. We’re all made in God’s image. Therefore, we should all speak kindly (Micah 6:8), presenting the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), building each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), and blessing instead of cursing (James 3:10).
- I will fight the evil, unkind, unreasonable standard of the Hollywood-driven cultural lies with the truth of the Gospel. Worth and identity are found in Jesus alone. Repent from your sins and believe in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. Then make it your ambition to be like Him, not like Barbie or Mr. GQ.
To the teenage girl who called me Fatty: Thank you for reminding me of my true worth and identity and focus—not found in body size or fitness or ability, but in being a valuable human specially created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), redeemed & rescued by the Savior of the world (Titus 3:4-7), set apart to glorify God and make Him known (1 Samuel 17:46-47). I hope you can soon experience the same freedom, no longer buying the glamorous lies of the red carpet or conforming to the unrelenting pressure of your peers.