Mirna Valerio is a badass runner, writer, mother, teacher, and singer. There is nothing this woman can’t do. Not only does she run 50Ks (which is equivalent to 31.07 miles, by the way) she’s a best-selling author who holds her head high and knows how to crush anything that stands in the way of letting her live her best life.
Valerio collaborated with Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI), a company that designs and sells gear and clothing for all outdoor adventures, and filmed an emotional and inspiring video, The Mirnavator, proving to so many you can do (and be) whatever you want. There are no limits. Not even when someone tries to give you a verbal takedown.
During the last leg of her a ultramarathon, Valerio received one of the most hateful emails I’ve ever heard which she read out loud in the video:
“You are a liar and a fraud. You are not a runner. I have seen your few videos where you actually pretend to run. What a joke! You are moving no faster than what I can walk. You expect people to actually be stupid enough to believe this shit. A true professional runner is not over weight, which what you are. A person who runs marathons for a living is not overweight, which is what you are. Fuck you. You want to further fat acceptance and people to kill themselves in your perverse idea of beauty. Fuck you.”
This gives me the chills. It makes me so angry that I just want to lash out in anger toward this hateful person. But Mirna is a better woman than I — and a true inspiration in all ways. She did not say “fuck you” back. She knows this hateful, ignorant person did not deserve a second of her time.
Valerio knows exactly who she is: a powerful, brave, and empowering force of nature who is inspiring women everywhere, and her response, “That was not that person’s moment, it was mine,” was gold, because yes, it fucking was, Mirna. It was your moment, and you didn’t let them steal your shine.
A runner looks, talks, walks, and wears whatever the hell she wants. Valerio walks the walk and talks the talk. She spoke with Scary Mommy and said she takes advantage of every opportunity she can “to show people that it is totally okay to be your authentic self all of the time, every single minute of your day. You never have to be or try to be someone/something other than who you truly are. This is something that has guided me through my entire life and especially now since I get to role model it for everyone I encounter,” she says.
Yes! Yes. Yes. Yes.
I read those words to my two sons and my daughter last night. It’s a message worth repeating over and over, and not just to future generations, but to ourselves too.
Valerio goes on to say, “I love my body the most when I’m out running. Even if it’s hard and even if I’m having a bad day, I know I have my body and it works. And it is allowing me to do this thing, and so I feel really strong and powerful, and in that I feel beautiful.”
That is the true meaning of beauty. It’s not something as temporary as your looks or as superficial as your dress size. Beauty is how you feel. Beauty is how you perceive your life. Beauty is how you treat others and yourself. And Mirna Valerio is beautiful.
And in order to dress all the beautiful women who want to get out there like Mirna, REI released a statement saying,”For the outdoor industry to claim we’re inclusive, we need to outfit all women.” Music to our ears.
The company decided to launch #ForceOfNature in May, and REI has since added larger sizes and new selections from Columbia and KUHL and will be offering even more plus sizes in spring of 2018. About damn time, and we are glad to hear it.
Helen Stauffer, senior merchandising manager at REI is right on about why there needs to be a shift in the industry: “Not only is it the right thing to do for our business, more importantly, it is the right thing to do for our customer. To do it, we have to bring the industry along,” she says.
REI hopes #ForceOfNature will keep the conversation going. We need to speak up, and they encourage us all to reach out to our favorite brands and tell them what we are looking for in their clothing. After all, it’s going on our bodies, and the companies that dress us want, and need, to hear consumers’ opinions.
So to anyone out there who thinks they can’t do something because they don’t fit into some box, aren’t a certain size, or don’t look a certain way, this goes to show you that you are wrong about your capabilities. You are wrong, and there are people who will support you and love you on your journey. Let Mirna inspire us all.