Heckler Shames Plus-Size Marathoner But Doesn’t Know She Runs To Heal After Having A Miscarriage

by Lindsey Smith
Lindsey is from Florida and has worked in online and print media. Her happy place is Michaels craft store.

Latoya Shauntay Snell is a marathoner who loves to run. She was looking forward to finishing her eighth marathon while running the 2017 New York City Marathon on November 5, 2017.

She pushed through the race and was rounding out the last four miles when a man’s comments about her body suddenly stopped her in her tracks. “I am not the first person to experience it and unfortunately I know that I will not be the last person,” she told LittleThings. “We need more education to be put forth about how the human body works and to end these stigmas of what a ‘real body’ should look like.”

The rude bystander began heckling Latoya about her weight and how long it’d take her to finish.

“Naturally, when you sign up for any endurance event, you prepare your body and mind for harsh conditions,” she wrote online. “Unfortunately, I never considered the need to prepare myself for harassment on the course — especially not in a place I call home.”

Sadly, the man had no idea how much she sacrificed to be there and that the marathoner was running to help heal from having a miscarriage earlier that year.

After losing valuable time, she continued on and shortly later, realized she had nothing to prove to him.

Latoya Shauntay Snell is an experienced marathoner who’s run in eight races over the past four years.


She was excited to run in the New York City Marathon and complete the race on November 5, 2017.

“I’m forever thankful for friends, family, strangers and followers. You guys moved me,” she wrote on Instagram.

Just as she was about four miles away from the finish line, Latoya heard a man shouting at her and shaming her for her weight.

She wrote about the experience online:

“Between the 22nd and 23rd miles of the New York City Marathon, my home-stretch high was disrupted by a tall, balding white man who felt it appropriate to shout, ‘It’s gonna take your fat ass forever, huh?'”

Latoya admitted she stopped and yelled at the man who was harassing her. But, more importantly, she wrote that he had no idea the struggle she’s been through.

She explained:

He didn’t know what I’d sacrificed to be there; how I’d contemplated abandoning a sport I often refer to as “oxygen” because I was still grieving the miscarriage of my twins in August. He didn’t know I’d had emergency surgery for endometriosis, or the 142 times over the course of a year that I’d been called everything from “fat bitch” to the n-word online, simply for being a black, plus-size food-and-fitness blogger.

Latoya has been documenting her fitness journey on her Instagram and has been open about her struggles.

Not too long ago, Latoya was 265 pounds and explained that she was depressed — even when she began losing weight.

But a love for running changed all that.


Courtesy of W. Eric Snell of E. Snell Design

Despite not looking like a “typical athlete” Latoya continued working out and running.

“To some, I am ‘big boned’, a term that I hate and to others, I’m [also] diagnosed for ailments that I do not possess simply because my stomach protrudes more than they think it should for someone with my athleticism,” she told LittleThings.

Courtesy of W. Eric Snell of E. Snell Design

Latoya told LittleThings that she owes it to two other women who were running the marathon for making her realize the heckler wasn’t worth her time.

“I want to thank the two women who spoke to me on the course after they heard this man heckle me,” she told LittleThings. “They didn’t have to say anything to me and continued on with their race but they helped me get through my marathon.”

Courtesy of W. Eric Snell of E. Snell Design

After ranting about her experience on Facebook, the marathoner learned that countless others have been judged by the way they looked despite being physically fit.

“After writing my blurb on my blog, initially I told myself that I wouldn’t elaborate too much on the topic,” she told LittleThings. “My perspective changed when I realized that several people from NYC Marathon Runners experienced similar trolling either on the same course or at other events.”

Courtesy of W. Eric Snell of E. Snell Design

Latoya’s experience is a good reminder for everyone to stop and think before judging someone — you never know what battles they are facing.

Despite her battle, Latoya fell in love with fitness and began running marathons.

“My new sport helped me find freedom and strength through the pavement, but it also taught me that the number on the scale didn’t dictate or govern my happiness,” she wrote.

But the stranger knew none of this while heckling her.

“As a mere spectator, he saw my 5-foot-3-inch, 218-pound body as a joke. And I — an exhausted runner who was so close but still so far from the finish line — fell for the bait, as he lured me with insults,” she wrote.

But Latoya pushed on and finished the race — while the rude man stood on the sideline. “I didn’t sign up for the New York City Marathon to prove anything to anyone but myself,” she wrote.

Latoya is proud of what she looks like and she works hard on her fitness.

She told LittleThings:

On the pavement or the trails, we are there for a common reason:  To run.  Sure, our intentions may be different but the last thing that we should have to worry about is being heckled by some jerk on the sidelines. In so many ways, I think a lot of people who choose to troll others have personal issues of their own and transfer that negativity onto others who challenge their version of normal.  

In the end, she knew she had nothing to prove to a stranger on the sideline and pushed his words out of her mind.

She wrote:

I’m fat. Full-figured. Thick. Plus-size. Powerful. Capable. Empowering. Phenomenal. And in the end, my real clapback that day came from the power of my thick legs shuffling me from New York’s Staten Island, across five boroughs and ending in the drizzling rain in Manhattan. I am powerful because I believe that I am. And I owe nobody an explanation for what moves me.

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