Meet The Plus-Sized Lifeguard Who's Proving That Fitness Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

American lifeguard Courtney Harrough has opened up to Refinery29 about her experience of being physically larger than the lifeguards you see on television, and why she's just as experienced and capable at saving a life than someone who's half her size. 

Despite spending years competing in swimming and water polo, Courtney received criticism when training to be a lifeguard by fellow students. 

"A woman my height, but three times smaller than me said, 'I find it hard to believe you were an athletic swimmer,'" she said. 

The 24-year-old has come forward to explain that she is used to people judging her by her weight: "If you're a plus-sized woman presenting to a company, not just for an athletic-based career, you face a stigma that if you're fat, you're lazy."

On Instagram, she wrote, "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," she wrote. "My body is strong, sturdy, and sexy! I don't have smooth legs, or cut shoulders accented by tiny boobs like most of the girls in my class but I have courage, and a spirit to try. That is all [it] takes in this world." 

But, becoming a lifeguard didn't come easy for Courtney. Even though she passed her training program at the top of the class, there were no swimsuits in her size.

"They said, 'You don't look like a regular lifeguard, we're going to have to pull you from your job.' I said, 'I'm sorry, you're not going to pull me. If my weight was such an aesthetic issue, you would've seen it, because I've been half-naked in a swimsuit. If you knew you couldn't accommodate, you shouldn't have put me through this. And you're not going to fire me, because that's discrimination. We're going to figure out how to get it done.'"

Courtney put together a makeshift uniform, and proved to everybody that her weight does not define her abilities: "If it's a matter of my ability to perform my job, that's one thing. If it's aesthetics, you're fat-shaming and size-shaming. And you're being really rude, because fat people can do so much more than we think they can. Fat women have a right to lifeguard."

You go, Courtney!