Lindsey Swift was out jogging with her boyfriend last week when a man driving past leaned out his window to shout abusive jeers about her weight.
The couple were running along a quiet road when a car slowed down on a bend and the driver started to harass her. He went so far as to "shout a sarcastic rendition of Mika’s ‘Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)’ to me,” she told BuzzFeed News.
"Initially I was annoyed but not too perturbed," she said. "However, the more I thought about it that day, the more I realised how incredibly rude it was. I wondered what in the world would make anyone think that they had the right to comment on the size of my body when they know nothing about me."
She decided to write an open letter to the heckler.
The letter read:
An open letter to the idiot who thought it was ok to heckle me with fat jokes on my run yesterday,
Your comment was a clear indication of both your incredibly witty repartee and a feat of observational comedy. I am indeed a big girl, and I am indeed beautiful. Thanks for noticing. I'm not sure who you were telling I was fat, you clearly have eyes, and the only other people present were me and my boyfriend. I assure you that despite your concern I do own a mirror, and my boyfriend has seen my fat body as he too has eyes. Don't tell anyone but I think he might even like it.
Normally I don't get militant about these things, idiots are idiots. However, I can see why comments like these might put a person less confident than me off from running, and that is shameful. Everyone starts somewhere. Let me make one thing very clear, I am not ashamed of my body. It has never stopped me from doing anything I want. My fat body has done things that you, hanging out of the window of your babe-magnet white van could only ever dream of.
My fat body has been swimming in crystal clear Thai seas that you have probably only ever seen on TV. It has lived in countries you wouldn't dream of visiting and been a part of cultures you are too small minded to appreciate. My fat legs have carried me up mountains on more than one occasion. My fat brain speaks languages you probably don't see the point of learning, which is why you spend your time hanging out of van windows since you have nothing better to occupy it with.
Recently I made the decision to get fit as I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and good for my health. Not that I have to justify my body to you, but I have a goal to run 10k, and I will get there. I'm a stone lighter than I was, and can do a whole host of things I couldn't do before. It baffles me that anyone would try to discourage that kind of effort. Excuse me if my assumptions about you are wrong, but I only have your actions to go by. If my fat arse running (quite slowly I might add, I was bloody shattered) offends you and spoils your journey, try driving with your eyes closed, into a lamp post.
But in all seriousness, now I have written this, I feel sorry for you. Your behaviour is not normal, and your manners are well below par. Most importantly though, I forgive you. Here's hoping that anyone with a goal, fat or thin, isn't put off by this kind of thing. I know I haven't been.
Engage your brain before opening your mouth.
The response to the letter has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I've had messages from people all over the world saying that they have experienced similar things and will think twice before getting upset in future, which is amazing," she said.
“A friend told me she'd once been heckled on her way to the gym by a car full of young men,” she said. “She had been so shaken and upset that she had turned around and gone home.”
“The fact that I am currently overweight is such an insignificant part of who I am," Swift said.
"If my post makes just one person ignore the negative comments and carry on what they are doing without shame, then I'm happy."