British Columbia

B.C. woman encourages everyone, regardless of shape or size, to give roller skating a chance

A roller skater from Prince George, B.C., is sharing her passion for the sport as a "self-identified fat person" in hopes of motivating others to join regardless of body size.

'Self-identified fat person' Shannon Williams started Instagram account to share love of roller skating

Shannon Williams played roller derby between the ages of 17 and 20. Now, at 30, she's trying different types of roller skating and urging others to try it, too. (Shannon Williams/Submitted)

A roller skater from Prince George, B.C., is sharing her passion for the sport as a "self-identified fat person" in hopes of motivating others to join regardless of their body size or shape.

"I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor of my body because I am fat," Shannon Williams said on CBC's Daybreak North. "I don't think being fat is a bad thing. You can be happy and healthy and still be fat."

After years of struggling with over-exercising and eating disorders, Williams, 30, said she started an Instagram account in April 2020 when she rediscovered her love for roller skating. 

"I started playing roller derby when I was 17 and went until I was about 20 years old," she said. "I didn't know that there were other types of roller skating I could do."

As she watched other people on social media perform unique dance moves on skates she said she decided to pick up the sport again after eight years and headed to the local skating facility.

"I just got that feeling of flying," she said. "I skated for two hours and I was sweating and I was smiling, and it just reminded me that movement isn't about weight loss."

Williams broke her wrist last year and can't participate in roller derby anymore, but says she's found other ways to continue roller skating, despite her injury.

"I discovered jam skating, dance skating and artistic skating. There's lots of cool things you can do or just roller skating at the skate park is amazing."

Currently, Williams has over 1,900 followers on her Instagram account — FatonWheelz — and said she receives dozens of thank you messages from followers who are inspired to try a new sport without worrying about the size and shape of their body.

"It's really important to me to just be a real person online, because so much of what we see on social media is curated and unrealistic so that other people can know this sport is accessible to you."

She said she is currently participating in the Moxi Challenge, where participants are required to skate every day for a full year.

LISTEN | Shannon Williams talks about her social media account, FatonWheelz on the CBC's Daybreak North:

Shannon Williams is documenting her roller skating journey on Instagram to make it more accessible to a diversity of body types. 7:37

With files from Daybreak North