Monday, March 31, 2014

From the Archive: Public Fatness

"From the Archive" is a series of posts that I wrote on past, no-longer-updated blogs that I feel are good enough to need a new home.

This post was originally written in June 2012.

So, I hear all the time about fat people being subjected to harassment and ridicule for daring to be out among the general population. For some reason, it hadn't really happened to me (as an adult, let's not get into childhood bullies). OK, once a guy told me I needed to exercise more, but it was a cheap comeback because I yelled at him for riding his bike on the pedestrian path on the Manhattan Bridge. I'd never experienced an unprovoked attack until today.

See this guy? I was standing on the F train today, with my dad, headed to Coney Island for the Mermaid Parade (my dad was headed elsewhere). I had my earphones in, enjoying some quality time with most recent SFH album, when my dad pointed to this guy and said "I think he'd trying to tell you something." So I took out my earphones and looked over. The guy made a little running motion, then mouthed "one hour, every morning."

It clicked that he was telling me I needed to exercise more. So, loudly, I said "Are you telling me I'm fat?" Obviously, I am, and I know that, but I thought that would catch the attention of more people around us. My dad was like, "Is that really what he said?" So I (still loudly) said "He's telling me I need to go running every morning."

So I turned to the guy and said (yes, still loudly, and well enunciated) "That's none of your business." He got a little flustered and apologetic, but I continued, "You don't just make comments on random strangers' bodies."

At that point we arrived at the stop where my dad was getting off, and after I said goodbye to him I moved to another part of the car. But I also took this picture, because people who harass others on the subway don't deserve anonymity. If I knew this guy's name I'd say it. I'd tag it and post it everywhere, so whenever someone Googled him this came up. But I don't know his name, so all I have is a picture.

It's just another reminder that if you dare to be fat in public -- especially if you are a woman -- your body is not yours. There are people who think that because you are out of the norm, you should hear their opinion and "suggestions" for your body and your life. Because they assume they can tell how you live based solely on how much adipose tissue resides on your body. Of course, this happened in a city that wants to legislate away fat through arbitrary things like soda and bake sale bans.

Luckily, I am very confident in my body -- the one I've been living in for 28 30 years. I know that I am fat. I know my lifestyle, my health, my limits. I am not going to share any of that, because it's no one's business but mine. But because I am content with myself, I look back at this incident horrified at this guy's gall, but not feeling any worse about myself. If I were more sensitive about my appearance, this might have ruined my day. I hope he's never done that to anyone who might really suffer a blow to their self-esteem from it.

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