McColgan happy to stand up to trolls if it helps others not feel alone

Britain's Eilish McColgan in action in the women's 5000m final in Doha REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmgiel

Being featured for Asics should have been a moment to savour for middle-distance runner Eilish McColgan but instead she received comments shaming her size, writes Nicola Kenton.

Having always had a slim build, the 29-year-old was frustrated at the comments criticising her for being ‘too skinny’.

McColgan, who claimed silver in the 5000m at the 2018 European Championships, acknowledged that normally she wouldn’t be too concerned by a troll but on this occasion she felt the need to say something.

“Asics posted a picture of me, I was happy that a sports brand was using professional athletes and promoting their athletes that they have,” McColgan said.

“I think that’s important for athletes to be celebrated for their achievements because that’s the way sport works. 

“It was frustrating that one of the first comments online said ‘She’s too skinny’. The first time that a company actually uses a professional athlete in a good light and celebrating their achievements and for the first comment to be about my appearance just frustrated me. 

“It was not the point of the post whatsoever. It was also the way he had said ‘too skinny’, I’m too skinny for what? I’m a professional athlete, I’m not too skinny for my sport, I fuel myself correctly. 

“I hate the fact that young girls will look at that and think there was some sort of unhealthiness around it, because that’s certainly not the case at all.”

“You’re always going to have people commenting upon people’s appearance, but I for one know that I’m a healthy individual and always have been, this is just my body shape. From the age of 10,11,12 I’ve always looked like this, I can’t change that.” 

After posting about the comments on her social media, the two-time Olympian received many messages from people who’ve also experienced shaming.

Adults and children reached out to McColgan to share their own experiences of body shaming whether it was in school or in sport.

“I had so many kids message me, it was heartbreaking,” McColgan explained. “Young girls, boys, all ages saying that they were maybe bullied at school because they were too skinny.

“I also had adults messaging me saying that they’d run their third marathon but people are telling them that they’re too fat to run, what does that even mean?

“This lady has just completed her third marathon and people are sitting on the sofa telling her that she’s too fat to run. 

“We all come in different shapes and sizes and your appearance has absolutely nothing to do with your achievements, whether that’s in sport or any walk of life.”

But the Scot, who secured victory at the 2019 Great South Run breaking her mother Liz McColgan’s record, was defiant in not feeding the trolls but ensuring that people can feel represented.

McColgan added: “I’m glad I did stick up for myself because just if it means one kid feels a bit more confident in their own body knowing they aren’t the only ones, because there are people that are just naturally skinny. 

“I’ll stand up for myself when I need to, but at the same time I choose to just ignore it because they don’t have any bearing on my goals and my dreams, and anything about me as a person.”