There I said it.
It’s an unfortunate truth, but it is a truth nonetheless.
Here’s another truth.
Wait for it…
I know I’m fat.
It’s not a surprise.
It’s not a secret.
I have a mirror.
Here’s my question, why is it that fat people are treated differently than other people?
We’re talked down to as though we’re stupid. We’re talked about as though we’re deaf. Some people actually point and laugh as if we’re blind or simply too stupid to notice.
Think I’m over-reacting? Lemme share some examples.
I was at the grocery store recently stocking on junk food. Not for me – but for the multi-day LAN party my kids were having. Six teenage boys = a lot of snack food and Mountain Dew. Yes, there were also healthy food options – there always are. But, LAN parties are a once in a while thing, and I don’t see a problem with otherwise healthy and active teenage boys having an occasional junk food feast.
The hipster couple in line behind me felt the need to discuss my food choices, saying things loud enough for me to hear over the beeping of the cash register. Things like, “Wow, I don’t think there’s one healthy thing in her cart.” And “It’s no surprise she looks the way she does.”
I could have turned around and explained that my purchases weren’t their business. I could have told them to fuck off. I didn’t do either of those things even though I probably should have. I just continued on as if I couldn’t hear them and got out of there as quickly as possible.
A few years ago, my friend, who is also overweight, got a new dress. She loved it. She said that she even felt pretty in it. She wore it exactly twice. Why, you might wonder? Because of the couple who were walking behind her at the store. The woman said, “I love that dress. It’s so pretty.” The guy said, “Yeah, but it would look better on someone who wasn’t so fat. It would look better on you. You’re skinny.” My friend was crushed. She couldn’t believe that someone that didn’t even know her would talk about her like that. That dress is still hanging in the back of her closet.
Which brings us to today.
Today I went to cancel my membership to the YMCA. Corwin needs another round of braces and frankly, that money needs to go to my kid right now – not me.
I walked up to the desk and said, “I need to cancel my membership.”
The lady there smiled and said, “No you don’t. What you need is to get on the treadmill.” Then she sort of giggled. Because, you know, if you giggle and smile, that makes whatever steaming pile of shit you just dished up, okay.
I want to tell you that I said, “Excusefuckingme?!” and punched her in the face.
But I didn’t. I’m pretty sure I had my usual Pudgy-Bambi-in-the-Headlights look. The one that invited her to ask why I was canceling. Even though it was none of her damn business, I told her. Because standing up for myself isn’t anything I’m terribly good at.
Here’s the thing. I don’t believe she ever would have said that to me had I been thin. She would have taken my info and I would have been on my way. Actually, she probably would have made some kind of attempt to talk me into keeping my membership – after all, they are running a business and they need to keep their numbers up. But I guarantee you, whatever she said wouldn’t have been laced with judgment and fat shaming.
For some reason, there are people in this world who seem to think that they have a god given right to say anything they want about and to fat people. Guess what, assholes – you don’t.
I realize that in some twistedass way, they may feel like they’re doing me a service. Like maybe they think I don’t realize I’m fat.
Spoiler alert: I have a mirror and know how to use it.
Or maybe they think that I don’t understand that being overweight is unhealthy. ‘Cause you know…I’m real, real stoooopid like that.
Or maybe they’re just self-aggrandizing pricks who bolster their own sense of self-worth with cruelty.
I don’t know.
But I do know that this shit has got to stop. You have no idea what is happening in another person’s life – if they suffer from depression, if they have an eating disorder, if they’re ill, if someone they love just died. Any or all of those things could be true – you don’t know. For me, the first two are. Now, I wouldn’t expect a stranger to know that, but I also wouldn’t expect a stranger to say those things to me, either.
You don’t have to like me. You don’t have to find me attractive. You don’t have to have anything to do with me other than briefly interact with me if we happen to come into contact in a service industry setting. But you do need to treat me with respect. You need to treat EVERYONE with respect. Because we’re all humans. So start acting like it, damn it!
EDIT: I have another friend who never experiences this sort of thing, but who’s also overweight. We think it’s because her default expression looks like she’s pissed off and my gut you where you stand if she was in the right mood. Which is funny, since she’s usually pretty happy. My default expression is apparently cupcake crossed with a doormat. Maybe that has something to do with the things people say. Not that I’m excusing it. I just find it interesting.
EDIT: And while we’re on the subject of things not to say to fat people, do not lecture me about my weight if you’re a smoker or tobacco chewer. Just…don’t.
EDIT: Last one – promise. In case you’re wondering, I did send an email to the personnel managers at the Y, sharing my rage. You’ll be proud of me. I didn’t say fuck. Not even once. It was super professional.