The Comments

So this guy beside me at the red light yells “Fat bitch.”

With his window down, so I know he really wanted me to hear it.  And his head was turned towards me, so I know it was meant for me.  I don’t even flinch, didn’t look his way, didn’t acknowledge it in any way… but I was left vexed.  I’m not even mad, I just want to know what I did.

Because I always assume I did something.  I would never scream anything with such vitriol and obvious disgust at someone who hadn’t done something, and I sort of assume that’s true for most people.  There’s always a reason.  Usually, I’m screaming at the back of someone’s car (with my windows up, so they don’t actually hear me) for something really fucking dumb.  Or driving slow.  That always gets me.

And there’s always a reason with people screaming “Fat bitch.”  Maybe I accidentally cut him off (I don’t recall?) or maybe it’s like when they slow down as they’re rounding a turn on the street and they hang their heads out the window and scream it while they drive away–just trying to impress a friend.  You can hear them howl with laughter as their car blazes down the road.  (That means they can’t hear when you scream “YOUR MOM” back.)

But I don’t remember doing anything particularly stupid with my car.  I was in the turning lane, actually.  And this guy didn’t seem to want to impress his friend–I could see the other guy out of the corner of my eye, and he didn’t seem to notice that anything had even happened.  The guy wasn’t really mad.  Once he said it and didn’t get a reaction, he just turned back to staring up at the light, waiting for it to turn.

The comments aren’t always yelled, of course.

Once, I was in my car, eating a small order of fast food fries.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner for that day, and I was already five minutes late getting back to work.  I was probably eating them too fast as I sat at the red light.

So I look over, and there’s this woman shaking her head at me as if I’d just put an infant in my lap and let it steer.  She’s looking at me like I was disgusting, like I’d done something foul, like what a fucking shame it was that this fat girl doesn’t have more restraint.

Would I have gotten the same look if it were carrots?  I assume she figured there were fourteen Big Macs and a tub of Coke (not Diet) waiting in the wings for me to scarf down.  Because that’s what fat people do, right?  That’s how they eat?

Stupidly, I look around, just to make sure there wasn’t someone around me juggling toddlers or crapping on a photo of Justin Bieber.  Nope, she meant me.

And what can you do when someone in a car judges you for eating 300 calories worth of fries?  Blush and wait for the light to change, apparently.  I couldn’t even muster the courage to flip her the bird because some part of my subconscious assumed she was someone I worked with indirectly.

That connection says something.

She was talking about someone who’d just gotten pregnant, who was wearing maternity clothes now.  She was suggesting that she should’ve worn maternity clothes all along, that she wasn’t even round with pregnancy yet.

This woman she’s talking about, she’s probably half the size of me.  Less.  Not even fat.

I fill up this bitch’s kitchen.  I’m sitting in a chair that’s pushed up against the wall, and I’m just cringing inside, realizing that it’s probably making a mark in the wall.  This chair is meant for someone her size.  This house wasn’t made with anyone wider in mind.

I mentally start smashing people together, deciding how many of them I could fit in my frame.  I imagine standing with my best friend, each of us in one leg of my brother’s pants.  We howled with laughter.

“She’s gained so much weight since she got here.”  About fifteen pounds on a 110 pound frame.  “Fattie gotta have her cereal.”  Look at you, you’re tiny.  I don’t understand.  “–does about as much good as a fat girl eating a thick, juicy burger and sucking down a Diet Coke.  Yeah, that’s really gonna help, Fattie.”  Fuck you.  When’s the last time you got shit for eating a hamburger?  Why do you even care?  Why is this in a sports article?

“I just want you to be happy,” she says.  I can hear the honesty dripping from her voice, I can hear the pain, I can hear the desperation.  When did I ever say I was unhappy?  I’d be so much happier if everyone could just stop talking about fat.

I can quote you my base metabolic rate, how many calories I eat on average, guess within 50 how many calories are in a dish.  I’m not stupid.  I’m aware of how much space I take up, how much work I’d need to do to lose a single pound, how much of a burden I apparently am on the planet, how much sooner I’m going to die.  And believe it or not, I’ve been working on that since day one.  I know more about health and fitness than almost anyone who offers little comments on my diet or exercise.  I’m not stupid.  I don’t eat as much as anyone thinks I do, I don’t move as little as anyone thinks I do, I don’t anything as much as anyone thinks I do.

I don’t need anyone’s fucking comments on my body, on my “health”, on my life.  I need their support and smiles.

6 responses to “The Comments”

  1. Ah Dootsie… (can I call you Dootsie?)

    As a fellow fatty I hear you. (Yeah I said fatty — I own it. It’s part of who I am.)
    If it’s any consolation, I promise you it gets better. You won’t care so much. People won’t comment as much ( I mean really — who calls out an old lady for being fat? ). Even the jerks will change — they’ll grow up and some of them will get fat themselves. But mostly you won’t care so much.

    One realization that made a big difference for me is this : conventionally pretty was never going to be one of my attributes and more importantly there was no reason to weigh it any more than any other attribute. Because underneath all the barbs is this one mean thought : you are not doing everything you can to be pretty. So ok! I’m not! I’m not pretty! There – done.

    I don’t think I’m ugly and I very much enjoy dressing up and fixing my makeup and hair. I’m just not fixated on checking this one other box when that’s all it is: one other box to check.

    I have many fine qualities. I don’t have to have this one too.

    1. You can absolutely call me Dootsie. Everyone at work does! 😀
      Thanks for these kind words.
      It’s mind-boggling to me that other people think I owe them a trim and fit body. That I’m just supposed to provide a fabulous physique for their eyes to take in.
      But if I did, if I were their ideal of beauty, then they’d just harass me for being cute!
      Most days, I can take it all in stride. But some days, especially when I start comparing notes with other people, I can’t help but shake my head.

  2. Hi Dootsie
    I know I am late getting to this post but I am surfing through your archives.I can so relate to this one.
    I am forty now and it is true the older you get the less people suggest that you aren’t doing enough about being fit. It doesn’t change the fact that we feel the judgment coming through loud and clear from some people. I am over weight now but I haven’t always been, as a teenager I went through a faze of not eating very much and exercising a lot, that was the only way for me to keep the pounds off. That worked great until I got a drivers licence and once I was walking less and working at a boring retail job, my skinny days were over.
    It is true if we were thinner some people would still find something to judge us for.
    The people that I am closest to, love me the way that I am and that is the most important thing to me.
    The guy that yelled at you from his car is an angry, unhappy person. The woman that judged you from her car, has a sad small life if she doesn’t have anything better to do than pass judgement from a safe distance.
    Fuck em.
    Life has too much to offer to live in a world as small as theirs.

    1. Thank you for this!
      Maybe it’s biased thinking, but many of the unhappiest people I know care the most about what I look like.

      1. Start spending time with happier people. In my twenties I slowly started filtering people out of my life that didn’t add to my life in a beneficial way. I just made myself less available to the unhappy people or the ones that thrive on drama, I am not a fan of people that are addicted to drama and want to drag others along for the ride. After a while they quit relying on you and they become acquaintances instead, you can still be friendly but they aren’t sucking the life out of you.
        I know that sounds kinda cold but really this is it, life is not a test drive. Spend time with people that are happy. If you can’t filter out the unhappy ones (family or whatever) limit the time you spend with them and figure out who you feel good hanging out with and spend more time with them. I tend to be a bit of a home body in some ways so my close circle of friends is small and I am careful about who I add to that mix.
        The drama queens live in my acquaintance circle but never in my close friends circle.

      2. I enjoy having drama queens in the distant fringes of my social circles, if only to remind myself why I shouldn’t overreact to life. Haha
        Thank you!

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