By now you have seen the viral post “To The Fatty On The Westview Track” which has garnished millions of views and close to half a million likes. It has been shared on many Facebook sites and has been on numerous Reddit boards. Other viral websites have picked it up. In fact, I have written a rebuttal to the post
I will also tell you that there was never anyone on the Westview track. It is not a true story.
Instead I would like to tell you the true story. The story that was popular but never got the attention it should have.
I am going to tell you the story about a “fat girl” named Dan and his amazing friend Flint.
Flint and Dan have been friends for years. Flint has been a runner for some time and Dan really did not have to courage to run. He was overweight (over 300 pounds) and was more afraid to run because of being judged. Flint would do anything to have Dan run with him. He was Flint’s best friend.
Then one day Dan saw a video from “Ben Does Life”. It is a very inspiring video about ben who overcame obesity and ran a marathon. So Dan told Flint that he wanted help becoming a runner. Flint was ecstatic and would do anything for him!
So they started to run at a track. Dan felt like Flint was running slow because of him, which was not the case. Dan felt like he was a burden, which was not the case. He felt very out of place like a lot of new runners.
On May 30th, 2012, Dan told Flint he felt out of place and did not feel like he belonged on the track running with him. He did not want to run anymore. In fact, he used the word “inadequate”.
Inadequate. A place many of us have been.
This broke Flint’s heart because he felt the opposite. He loved that Dan ran with him. He felt encouraged that his best friend would run with him. In fact, he felt like there were others who were inspired by him running. Not for his size (Flint never made a reference to Dan’s weight) but for the fact he was with him every day.
Flint and Dan were not about self-pity. They never talked about inspiration or drive. That was not their style.
Flint wanted to let Dan know how much he meant to him without really “telling” him.
So Flint sat by the computer and wrote his thoughts out. It took him 20 minutes. He was always a fast writer. He wrote about how encouraged he was. He wrote about how impressed he was. He wrote all of his feelings in a way that Dan would be able to relate...
Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.
You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home. You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.
You are awesome.
If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion,in front of others.
You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breathe take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.
You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.
You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.
I bow to you.
He did not want Dan to know it was about him. So he did this weird off-the-cuff thing. He made the title “Hey Fat Girl”. Honestly, the post was for Dan. Flint did not have a lot of readers at the time. He only wrote three posts that month. One was a review of a hydration vest and the other was about a marathon.
Dan read the post and cried. His comment was the first one on Flint’s post. In his comment he said …
“I bow to you that you measure worth not in absolute like race times or distances, but in each miracle that paces the lives of each runner, big and small, slow and fast.”
Dan was so inspired by his friend’s words that he wanted to share them with many. He posted it on a Reddit running site and it quickly garnished a lot of views. Flint never heard of Reddit so he was shocked to see so many people emailing him to thank him.
In fact, it was shared throughout the running community.
Flint was getting email after email from people thanking him for his words.
The post also brought a lot of copycat writings. There seemed to be a style where people wanted to insult more and more with underlying condescending tones. The copycat posts were “clumsy” and more about getting views than inspiring others.
The Westview post has gone viral. It is a copycat. It is condescending more than inspiring. it has the same style but not the same tone.
This bothered a lot of Flint's friends.
Flint is not mad at all. He wrote the post so that his friend Dan could know how he felt about him. He is thrilled that many people have seen his post and he feels that is anything will inspire others to be their best, who is he to judge.
Flint and Dan still run together. Dan has lost over 80 pounds. Flint has never said a word about his weight. His post was not to inspire Dan to get healthy. It was to tell him that he was not “inadequate”.
When Closer posted the Westview Track post the last lines were…
We have to admit that, after reading that, we're suddenly feeling a LOT more inclined to lace up our running shoes and give pounding those pavements a go!
After reading “Hey Fat Girl” after hearing the story behind it, I was inclined to do something else…
I wanted to tell me wife thank you. Thank you for always believing in me when I did not. Thank you for telling me my writing was good when I thought it was not. Thank you for getting mad at me when I sold myself short and thank you for telling me I should go to the gym when I did not want to.
Thank you for being a great mom to our kids and thank you for always being there. Thank you for seeing a great writer in a Chili’s manager. Thank you for everything.
The wrong story went viral. I am telling you that today. There is nothing that can be done about that.
What I will do is share this with the few hundred people that read my blog. I will also ask you to share it if you are inspired by Flint’s words.
Because there was never a Fatty on a track…
Just two friends who loved one another.