Mum Amanda Townsend was so hurt by being ‘body-shamed’ by a couple in Blackpool, she couldn’t just let it go.
The 45-year-old had just finished running a 10k in Blackpool, while her daughter ran her first half-marathon, and they popped into the town’s Sports Direct for more running gear. But Amanda was left feeling like the smile had been “knocked out of her heart” when two fellow customers mocked her for her size.
So the mum-of-three, of Clitheroe, wrote an open letter and published it on Facebook.
Since her honest and heart-felt post, she has received 1,200 messages of support – some from people who faced similar humiliation and from people inspired by her to start running.
Her letter said: “To the couple in Sports Direct Blackpool, on Sunday, who totally belittled me. I just wanted to say how much your cruel snigger and whispers to your wife upset me.
“Yes I am a huge Size 22 and weigh 20st and yes, I was wearing Nike patchwork leggings and I was looking colourful, with red rosy cheeks, but what you didn’t realise was I had run a 10k race 15 minutes earlier. I have only been running seven months and lost a massive 6st in that time.
“Sadly, you didn’t realise I was next to you when you were whispering into your wife’s ear to go and have a look at the fat girl in running gear.
“I’m doing my best and trying my hardest to get fitter. So next time you feel the need to be horrible, please think before you look at someone and whisper to your wife to look too.”
Amanda says she did face the couple at the time and told them she had just run a race, and they were shocked and embarrassed.
The grandmother said: “I thought about it for a couple of days and it made me wonder how many other people it might have also happened to. I felt posting my letter might help other people.
“I was upset, but more angry really. For somebody to think they can behave like that. I’ll use it as motivation, and to try to help others.
“I also hope if somebody has behaved like that couple, maybe they will think twice. If they do think something like that, maybe they could just keep it to themselves and not say anything.
“The response I’ve had has been amazing. One lady said she had left the gym after being sniggered at by some girls, but after reading my post, was going to rejoin. Some people said it inspired them to start running, which is wonderful.”
Amanda and her daughters started running after seeing a photo from her granddaughter’s christening. They started part-walking, part-running and built it up.
Despite having arthritis and fibromyalgia, Amanda says she loves running.
“I love being outside, you feel great at the end of the run and have a sense of achievement. You can do it quietly on your own, or with thousands of people at an event.
“I feel so much better – I’ve lost 6st, I have more energy, and confidence. If I can do it, anyone can.”