Monday, December 31, 2012

Newsflash – I’m Fat!

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.

33 comments:

Wendy Qualls said...

I was reading along and saying "CALL THEM AND COMPLAIN" but it seems like you've got that taken care of :-)

I'm lucky - I'm only somewhat overweight, and it fits on my frame well enough for the only one to call me fat to be my mother. I still have a hard time buying clothes and I rarely feel beautiful, but I almost never get fat-shaming comments to my face.

My heart goes out to you for recognizing it was it is - a reflection on the size of other people's minds, not on the size of your body.

Jennifer Armintrout said...

Fuck people. Seriously.

Carolline Greene said...

I can't believe strangers say shit like that and think it is okay and acceptable!! I'd shank them and totally use my PTSD as my defense!!

That is so incredibly rude.

I once had two guys come up to me outside a club and ask me if I should be drinking while pregnant~ my response was to want to burst into tears I was NOT pregnant and I was actually on Xmas break from AIT with my sister celebrating. Talk about a slap in the face~five months of rigorous physical exercise and someone tells me I shouldn't drink when preggos... My actual response was "thanks for your concern however, I'm not pregnant I'm just fat." & my sister and I walked away...

I know most people are like "oh, they are just unhappy with their own lives they have to build themselves up by putting others down" But the truth of the matter is society thinks that is acceptable behavior because most people don't make a big deal about it, when in fact it is a big deal. It is NOT acceptable behavior and that is a form of bullying~ what if that was said to someone who was on the edge already, that may be the shove that sends them over the edge...

I am concerned for our society where simple manners are no longer the norm! What happened to if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything??

BA Tortuga said...

What Jen said. Fuck those asshats. You're stunning (and I know from beautiful women, trust me). And yes, not one fat person isn't aware that they're fat. We know. And I wish I could say with 100% accuracy that if that had happened to me, I'd have torn her head off and shit down her neck, but when the airline associate looked at me in April and said, "you are aware tattoos are trashy," I was so shocked I didn't say anything.

For about 10 minutes.

Then I called Julia and she sent me to management. By then, whoa. I wasn't shocked anymore. I did throw a pencil cup and curse. And cry. ;-)

People need to wash their own windows and stop staring so hard into others.

*hugs your neck*

Midnyte Reader said...

I hope that person gets fired. I'm so so sorry you had to go through those experiences. If it makes you feel any better, me and my friends mock Hipsters all the time.

Here's something that my friend says when she gets pissed off..."Excuse me. You are not welcome to (insert action)." So it could be cut in front of me, talk about me like I'm not here, criticize what's in my shopping cart. Big hug!

Kelsey St. James said...

Oh my darling, Bronnie... I'm sorry you've has such shitty people be so damn rude to you. As part of the fat sisterhood I feel ya although I've never had anyone be quite as rude to me. And well, despite my shyness when someone is offensive I lose all sorts of shyness and speak up. But the point is that you shouldn't HAVE to because stupid people shouldn't be allowed to talk! LOL I love you, and like BA said, you're goregous! I don't say that shit if I don't mean it, so there! ;D

I'm glad you sent an email to the Y... I would have done it on your behalf whether you wanted me to or not if you hadn't done so. LOL No, really. I would have figured out which Y you went to while being all sneaky and totally would have ripped someone a new hole for ya. :p

Julia said...

I would have sent you to the management, too. If you don't get an apology, follow up, I will poke you. Asshats

Serenity said...

Wow, people suck. I get the "Are you sure you should be eating that," comments from my mom all the time. Just for the record, I think it's perfectly acceptable to punch all those people in their stupid faces. You look so sweet, who would believe you lashed out in a fit of rage?

Phoenix said...

Or flatten themselves against a wall when you walk by, or point, or laugh, or sneer, or offer you diet advice at the register (more than once), or ask you if you know how many calories are in something, or make you feel like you have to explain your cart when you load up to check out, or says shit like, "You'd be pretty if you weren't so fat" (yes, thank you family and strangers alike), or stares at your stomach or ass or anything else. :(

I know this well. And I too have the bambi look when it happens because it's hard to believe someone can be so mean when you don't have that kind of mean living inside you too.

My "favorite" to date? No one wants to have sex or date a fat girl. You should lose weight so men will have you. --- yeah, that still pisses me off.

Tali Spencer said...

I'm sorry that person was so ignorant and thoughtless. :( I'm fat, too.

I can't say I've run into a lot of grief over it, except for my first husband, who did just what you describe with the couple and the dress, except he did it to my face--after I'd lost 40 pounds and thought I looked great. I divorced him a year later. Why be married to someone who makes you feel bad about how you look even when you look good? He had fat issues and, well, I have fat.

I also have brains, good manners, respect for others, and the respect of others. That's the best revenge. Mean doesn't age well.

Good for you in complaining. If nothing else, that clerk needs sensitivity training. A reprimand might sink in, and we can hope so, because she's probably not evil... but at least you've let her bosses know how you felt about being treated so rudely. She and they needed that.

Have a happier 2013!

Brynn Paulin said...

I am beyond furious about this. You are the sweetest person in the world and no one deserves to be treated like this. I was so freaking horrified when you called to tell me!!!! That overpriced organization is losing more than your membership today. They lost my family's and my mom's and possibly that of other people in the area who hear about this.
I think I too am going to go with Jen on this. "Fuck people. Seriously." Some thin (and not so thin) people are so freaking holier than thou yet they have horrible habits, not the least of which is having ugly souls. Just remember, there are many kind, loving, good people out there. More of them than the meanies. Unfortunately, the hateful people are the ones who stab and destroy with their words and make the bigger impression--like the one rotten apple in the big bowl of fruit.

anny cook said...

Blessings on you, Bronwyn. I have BEEN there. All of the above situations and some not even mentioned. Here's my usual answer--delivered with a very serious expression on my face.

"When I married I weighed 89 pounds. Back then I never imagined I would look like this. But time moves on. Health and age changes us. Someday down the road, you'll look like me. How will you feel when someone talks to you the way you talked to me?"

Kirsti said...

I'm so furious I can't come up with anything more profound than people suck ass. I'm sending hugs from afar!

Molly Daniels said...

The only people I've heard comments from concerning my weight has been from my family. Even during my last shopping spree at a boutique, when I expressed the fact I'd 'outgrown' even their plus-size racks, the two women helping me very kindly pointed out some of their clothing runs small, and it wasn't my fault. Then expressed happiness when I found something that DID fit!

I'm with the majority. If the people you encounter never heard the 'if you can't say something nice' phrase, or are that bad mannered, then don't sink to their level; just tell them to mind their own damn business. And I'm soooooooo glad you complained to management at the Y!!! That remark was COMPLETELY uncalled for.

Bronwyn Green said...

Thank you so much to everyone who's commented, retweeted, etc. I'm hugging you all. I'm a hugger. And I really appreciate the the support - more than I can possibly express.

@ Wendy - I'm still waiting to hear back. We'll see if they respond. I love the commentary on the size of their minds. Thank you for that. *HUGS*

@ Jen - Eloquent (and right) as always. *HUGS*

@ Carolline - Oh honey - I think I would have totally cried. The thought of someone being pushed over the edge is actually what made me the angriest. I have the best friends and support system ever - what about the people that don't? *HUGS*

@ BA - OMG!!!! Someone said that to you?!?! What a freaking HAG!!!! I'm horrified for you!!!! I'm so glad you complained!!! *HUGS*

@ Midnyte Reader - I don't necessarily want her to lose her job, but damn she needs some sensitivity training. And an infusion of common sense. I need to remember (and probably practice saying) your friend's saying. :D *HUGS*

@ Kelsey - Thank you for being willing to rip her a new one. I've decided that if they don't respond by Thursday, I'm calling. *HUGS*

@ Julia - Thank you, honey. I promise, I'll suck it up and call if I don't get a response. *HUGS*

@ Serenity - Ah my favorite...are you sure you should be eating that. That was a Grandma comment. I remember it well... grrrr *HUGS*

@ Phoenix - Diet advice at the register?!? I knew there was a reason I use the self checkout. And OMG, I think my head would explode if I heard someone say the sex/dating thing. I'm horrified and furious for you!!! *HUGS*

@ Tali - I'm so glad you got rid of him. He clearly didn't deserve you. At all!!! I love that saying "Mean doesn't age well." It's so true! *HUGS*

@ Brynn - You're absolutely right - there are far more kind and loving people out there and I'm lucky enough to have so many of them in my life. Rotten fruit aside, I'm so, SO lucky. And thank you for your support - seriously. :) *HUGS*

@ Anny - I need to memorize that so it's one the tip of my tongue. Thank you, Anny-girl. *HUGS*

@ Kirsti - Thank you honey - I'm totally accepting those hugs. *HUGS*

@ Molly - I'm so glad you've had nice shopping experiences - no one needs to be treated poorly when they're trying to find something they don't hate to wear. *HUGS*

Mia said...

Those kinds of things have happened to me too. I am really tired of people-- strangers and family, but hardly ever friends-- saying things to me (and, sometimes when I am walking down the street,throwing things at me)... Here's the kicker: for as fat as I am, I used to be a whole lot fatter. I have to check the homicidal rage when someone gives me the same lecture they've already given me about how my weight is going to kill me any minute now when they know I've dropped 50 pounds already. Here's the deal, people: it's not actually possible to just stop being fat. There's really NOTHING I can do that would make me look thin tomorrow or next week or next month, and acting like I am just refusing to be thin makes me feel makes me angry. And hurt. And sad.

Debby said...

Having been thin and now fat, I share your pain. I do sometimes feel as if I am invisible. too dumb to acknowledge. I personally feel there is a lot of prejudice against us

SusanR said...

I cannot believe that people have the nerve to say those things. I would totally have said something back to make them feel really badly.

I am glad that you complained about the girl at the Y - she was completely unprofessional and should be taken off the desk if that is the way she deals with people.

((((((hugs))))

Mean people totally SUCK.

Bronwyn Green said...

@ Mia - I'm so sorry that this sort of thing has happened to you, too. *HUGS*

@ Debby - I suppose we all need to start speaking up - hard as that is. *HUGS*

@ Susan - the sad this is (well, one of the sad things) the chick at the Y was actually older than me. I guess age doesn't always bring wisdom. *HUGS*

Nina said...

That is just effing terrible. I was raised by a mother who called me fat for the first time when I was about eight, even though I weighed about normal. This still haunts me. AndI'm still pretty normal. Things people say can really haunt you.

My ex-boyfriend was big and I loved him for everything he were, not his weight (though I constantly hated MYSELF for not being skinny). I could hear people whisper when we were shopping but never had the guts to tell them to go play on the freeway.

Just try to remind yourself that these people are not even worthy of your time, and that you're a great person. I know we think that, anyway.

Cheryl said...

"Or maybe they’re just self-aggrandizing pricks who bolster their own sense of self-worth with cruelty." Nail on the head. If they hadn't said something about your weight, it would have been something else. Your clothes, your car, the time of day.
There is NO EXCUSE for such insensitivity. None. And I'm so sorry you were hurt. But, yeah you for standing up and reporting it. Next time, you'll have the power to say your thoughts to their face.
The world can change one step at a time.

Stephanie Michels, author said...

Bronwyn, I am so sorry this happened to someone who is so loving and acceptable of others. I want to smack the living sh** out of this person. Rudeness is NEVER acceptable. Good for you contacting the Y management. This makes me want to cancel my membership in protest.

Hugs and more hugs!

Amber Skyze said...

Holy Shit! I can't believe people can be that cruel. Well, yes I can, but seriously. I don't understand it. I don't give a crap about what a person looks like. It's what's on the inside that matters.
You, my friend are a beautiful person inside and out.
I'm glad you wrote the Y. I would've done the same thing.

Margaret Yang said...

I am so sorry that happened to you! ::::hugs::::

Bronwyn Green said...

@ Nina - I"m so sorry that your mom said those things to you and that other people have too. It's not okay. *HUGS*

@ Cheryl - Thanks, honey. If there's ever a next time, hopefully I can say something right then. I'm working on it, anyway. Also, I miss you. *HUGS*

@ Stephanie - Thank you. So much. I'll let you know when/if I hear back from them.

@ Amber - I don't get it either. At all. And thank you. *HUGS*

Bronwyn Green said...

@ Margaret - Thank you, Pickle. It sucked, but I'm hoping some sensitivity training comes out of it and that you know...it sticks. *HUGS*

Chris said...

I'm really glad that you contacted the manager at the Y. I'm curious what sort of response you'll get.

Also, *BIG HUG*.

And it boggles my mind that people say that sort of crap. Grrr.

Simone Anderson said...

((hugs)) What a B***H. That was completely unprofessional and uncalled for. She needs more than a little sensitivity training. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that. ((hugs))

Donna said...

You know, Kiddo, to my mind this is a societal problem that falls into the same realm as bullying and the increasing lack of basic good manners.

I hope you know that if those asses (and I mean no disrespect to donkeys) hadn't spit their venom toward you, they would have aimed for someone else for some other reason. It was going to come out.

I have been in a wheelchair for most of my life. There was a time when if kids would stare, the parents would correct them. Now the parents stare, too, and some even make comments about "cripples".

Being a sweet and gentle soul,this "cripple" usually runs over their toes with the wheels of my chair. Oops! Just a little reminder to watch what you say!

The attitude of building oneself up by tearing down someone else -for any reason- needs to be addressed on a national level.

Love you,
Donna





Bronwyn Green said...

@ Chris - I'm curious too - very curious. *HUGS*

@ Simone - Thanks. My hope is just that she never says anything like it again. *HUGS*

@ Donna - I *don't* understand people. At all. I cannot imagine people making comments about you. Run them all over!!! *HUGS*

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Kris Norris said...

My soul sister... yes, I waited this long to say anything because I am STILL RAGING. Seriously....RAGING. And there isn't much else to say that hasn't been said. People are mean. It's a sad truth.

It's like Hollywood. You never hear about the celebrities that are well adjusted. The ones who have a family and just 'act' as a job. The ones who don't crash their cars or steal stuff. Those represent the majority of nice people. It's the total fuckups that make their presence known....

A good friend once told me, that when someone says something hurtful to you it's because they're really looking in a mirror and are angry with themselves. They can't see past their own issues and lash out to make themselves feel better...not sure if it's true, but this bitch obviously has issues.

And had I been there, shockingly, I would have called her out. But then I'm Canadian, hee hee....okay, so it's not because I'm Canadian, I'm just secretly bitchy to stupid people.

It's also sad that physical appearance has become the new item to bully. When will folks stop judging by what size you are and look for what's far more important? Who needs a zombie apocalypse when you already have undead working in the service industry?

Hugs from Canada, honey. Hang in there. You are gorgeous...and if one bitch can't see that then she's got more issues than anyone else.