I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of the “fat acceptance” movement. While I don’t think fat people should be publicly criticized for being fat, there’s a line to be drawn in the sand to make sure that reality doesn’t get mixed up with fantasy, particularly when it comes to overweight persons who think they are in just as good shape as someone who isn’t overweight.
Scientifically, it’s fucking impossible.
Being overweight automatically puts you at risk for a slew of other health problems right off the bat, even if you’re technically “healthy” in that exact moment. 24-year-old Courtney Harrough, a deep water lifeguard (more on that in a minute) in Orlando, Florida, has recently made Internet headlines after telling Refinery 29 about the stigmas she faced while applying and training for the job. “A woman my height, but three times smaller than me said, ‘I find it hard to believe you were an athletic swimmer,’” she recalls. “If you’re a plus-size woman presenting to a company, not just for an athletic-based career, you face a stigma that if you’re fat, you’re lazy.”
That is very true and very unfair, Courtney – but the reality of the situation is that most people at your size would not be able to handle lifeguard training:
If Courtney can pass the training, then she should be able to be a lifeguard. If she can’t, then she shouldn’t. It’s that simple. Is her weight something people are judging her on? Yes. But Did she still get the job regardless? Again, yes. So don’t get all up in fucking arms because people assumed that she’d fail when they hired her regardless. Let’s be honest: as progressive and open minded as you are, which person would you rather see swimming towards you as you drowned in the pool? This…
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Courtney says that she was a competitive swimmer and water polo player throughout high school, however I was a lazy swimmer and still managed to be a lifeguard for two summers. Was I a deep water lifeguard? I have no idea. We had a diving well, and the qualifications for being a deep water lifeguard are pretty tame:
- Must be able to swim three hundred (300) yards continuously using only the front crawl or breaststroke swim techniques or a combination of both.
- Must be able to tread water for two (2) minutes continuously using legs only (no use of arms).
- Must be able to swim twenty (20) yards and retrieve a ten (10) pound brick from eight (8) feet of water within one (1) minute and forty (40) seconds (timed event).
While the requirements vary from pool to pool, that’s not exactly hard. Basically Courtney and Refinery 29 added the phrase “deep water” to make her sound legit. When I first read her story I thought she was an ocean lifeguard or something, not just a regular pool spelunker like the rest of us plebs. We had almost the same requirements (200 yards instead of 300 yards, but everything else was the same) and my friend who couldn’t swim for shit still managed to pull it off.
In other words, don’t be impressed by flowery language.
“My weight and height may cause some to think that I’d only be a pleasantly perched beached whale upon a lifeguard stand – but that isn’t the case,” Courtney says. “My body is strong, sturdy and sexy! I don’t have smooth legs, or cut shoulders accented by tiny boobs like most girls in my class but I have courage and a spirit to try.”
Courtney, this was only in part about your physical appearance; primarily it was about your ability to do your job. Your physical appearance gives the initial impression that you probably would not be a good candidate for the position, but you proved everyone wrong. Congrats! But don’t blow it out of proportion. You could even say you might need to…check your privilege.
What do you think — is Courtney’s story blown out of propotion? Let us know in the comments!