28 October 2019

Being Plus Size in Sport

As some of you may know, I play wheelchair basketball. I was roped into helping my brother's team avoid a forfeit and I've been hooked ever since. I've been playing for around 3 years and I enjoy it way more than I ever expected. Not that you would guess by my constant moaning on twitter about having to get up early on weekends. I train 2-3 times a week and play games on the weekend. It's an intense sport and I do end up injured but it's so worth it for me. I also love that I've made so many new friends and have a whole other family.

Beth is sat in a silver basketball wheelchair. She is wearing a white vest with the number 13 on it, grey and burgundy leggings and grey trainers. She is holding a ball on her lap and is looking directly at the camera

In primary school, I dabbled in sports at lunchtime. Then in secondary school, I adored swimming and was pretty good at netball but my health started to decline and sports was off the table. Instead of adapting sports to my ability I was made to sit out or be the person in charge of the stopwatch. I wasn't overly bothered though because the sports you do at school never really grabbed me. Plus I was fat. Being a fat teenager is hard enough without adding sports (and a creepy P.E teacher) to the mix.

With everyone so obsessed with fat people needing to be healthy/lose weight you would think that they would leave you alone if you played a sport. Wrong. There is so much fatphobia within sport I can fully understand why fat people don’t want to take part. Even now that I am fully engrained in a team and know everyone pretty well I am still exposed to fatphobia way too often.

There are so many fat 'jokes', what people eat is constantly talked about, if you are slower or not as good as the others it’s obviously because you are fat. People are told they need to lose weight when what they mean is you need to get quicker. I train twice a week. My fitness isn't bad. The only reason I have to sit out is because my heart is fucked and that has nothing to do with my weight. I can thank my crappy genes and chronic illness for that.

As well as people's attitudes there's the whole drama of equipment. Every time I play for a new team I have a massive panic about whether the playing vests will fit me. I try and avoid the bibs because between my boobs, belly and dislocating shoulders they are just a recipe for disaster. Trying to find work out gear for plus size people that is a good size AND affordable is also a nightmare.

Beth is sat in a silver basketball wheelchair. She is wearing a white vest with the number 13 on it, grey and burgundy leggings and grey trainers. She is holding a ball on her lap and has a big smile on her face

Now I’m lucky in that no one has ever said anything about my weight to my face and no one has implied I can’t do something because of it. Or maybe they're lucky because I would explode. However, hearing them talk about people in other teams (although it tends to be about other guys) and 'joke' with each other makes me question if and what they are saying or thinking about me. I'm pretty confident in myself nowadays but I often feel self-conscious being a Plus size person playing a sport purely because I hear what has been said about others. Obviously, pair that with being a woman in sport and it can be a harsh and judgemental environment.

That being said I am so glad that I found sport and a whole new community. If the small-minded people could catch up and be accepting of everyone that would be great. I don't want to put anyone off finding a sport/exercise they love. I just wanted to show people that their 'funny jokes' can actually be hurtful and they have no truth to them at all. Fat people can be active. Fat people can be good at sport, Fat people can be fit and most importantly Fat people are human.

You can also check out my post on getting fitted for my basketball wheelchair here

p.s Health has absolutely nothing to do with size. You can be healthy and fat and also I would be unhealthy even at a size 10. Also, people's health is none of your business and doesn't affect you in any way.

What is your favourite sport?
What sport do you wish you could do?


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