September 21, 2018
Descriptor: Aja shares her experience of being stigmatized as a voluptuous runner and why this led her to start a podcast around these topics.
- Aja shares how she has experienced weight stigma as a runner and why she decided to speak out about this problem in the running world. She started Flaunt Performance: THE Podcast for THE Voluptuous Runner and athletes.
- We don’t have to lose weight to start a sport. It is the perception that you CAN’T but that is not true. We address those stigmas!
- We live in a society that is very anti-pleasure. Aja shares that she feels that order to accept and love our bodies we have to embrace pleasure.
So you know she’s legit:
As the daughter of a marathon runner, Aja began to develop her passion for running at around 8 years old. However, her initial path to running bliss wasn’t filled with much satisfaction. As a fat kid, the overbearing messages of weight loss and body image overshadowed the pleasures that running had to offer. Ironically, running soon became a mental refuge that Aja used to retreat from the constant pressures of bullying and not quite fitting into what was “normal.”
But issues regarding body image persisted throughout her life...until they were no longer bearable.
December 30, 2015, Aja gave birth to her second daughter; Yaminah. Three days later, she and her husband heard the news that no parents ever want to hear. Yaminah was very ill and wouldn’t live very long. Yaminah died in her parent's arms on January 19, 2016.
At that point, everything stopped. Aja realized that she could no longer carry the load of weight loss pressures along with insurmountable grief. Weight loss, along with tons of other issues, seemed so minuscule when compared to losing a child.
So like she had always done when she needed to retreat, Aja ran. In fact, she decided to sign up for her first 1/2 marathon in honor of Yaminah.
Training for that 1/2 marathon wasn’t pretty at all. It wasn’t because Aja wasn’t in shape for running. Her body was used to running. In fact, she ran while pregnant with Yaminah. Training wasn’t pretty because at her highest weight ever, Aja learned what it really means to be fat and athletic. It means being ignored while shopping for running shoes. It means not being able to find running pants that fit over big hips. It means running in nightgowns to hide the fact that her butt hangs out of those too-small running pants!
In May of 2016, race day finally arrived. Aja looked around at everyone at the starting line and saw people of all shapes and sizes coming together for one common goal. But she knew all of the other round athletes at that starting line had experienced many of the issues she’d experienced during training. Aja decided to do something about it. She wanted the world to at least hear their stories. So Aja launched Flaunt Performance Podcast.
Flaunt Performance Podcast is a podcast for voluptuous runners who just love to run. It’s a no diet-talk, no fat-shaming, no self-shaming zone where pleasure trumps weight loss.
Aja lives with her husband and two living children in Northwest Indiana. She enjoys gardening, swimming, and retreating on running trails.
To Connect with the Flaunt Performance Podcast: THE podcast for the Voluptuous Runner