conceptions and mis-

On the way into work this morning, E and I were talking about the club we got dragged to on Friday night–three floors of ladies with enormous, mostly naked breasts and thighs, shiny and juicy just like rotisserie chicken, and the frat boys in polo shirts who enjoy their fresh meat. “I was totally invisible!” I said. I had been wearing a three-quarter-length sleeved T-shirt and jeans and was showing so little skin I might as well have not even existed.  It was cool, I told E. It was nice to just sit and watch the meat market and drink my drink and not be hassled.

Whatever, E said. That guy in line was hitting on you. And then the guy on the dance floor was watching you shake your butt. And don’t lie. You liked it.

I kind of liked it, I said. I did. You’d be stupid not to at least sort of enjoy the fact that someone appreciate what you look like, right? But it also made me mad.



Why? E said. Why should it make you mad?

Well, I said. Let’s say they
weren’t just crazy drunk and seeing double, right? That they liked how
I look. Those guys probably wouldn’t have looked at me 20 pounds
ago, or 30 or 40 or 50 pounds ago. A hundred pounds ago they
would have made fun of me. They would have laughed at me and mocked me,
and that idea makes me really angry. It pisses me off, because now I’m
acceptable, and I’m supposed to just enjoy that.  It makes me feel like
a hypocrite, if I like getting attention, you know?

That’s not fair, E said.

Wait, what? I said.

How do you know that? he
said. You don’t know that that guy would have made fun of you.

But it’s
the easiest thing in the world, I said, to make fun of a woman for her
body. The easiest way to grind her down, right?

Sure, he said. That’s
where people are really vulnerable. But that doesn’t mean he would have
done that. Maybe he wouldn’t have noticed you. But it’s not fair to say
that he would have mocked you for your weight. I’m sure it’s happened
to you–

It has, I said. And I’m sure it stung like hell, he said. It’s awful.
It’s cruel. But it’s not fair to suggest that this guy doesn’t like fat
girls because he’s hitting on someone who’s not fat.

I think that was one of the hardest things, I said, when I was bigger.
The idea that maybe no one was going to say anything, but that they
could. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt like I was cringing
all the time. Just cringing. Hunching up my shoulders like someone was
about to hit me at any second.

That’s the thing, E said. It’s not your size. It’s not your weight.
I’ve seen hot girls on the dance floor, and they’re big girls. Maybe
they’ve got the booty, or a belly. They’ve got the meaty thighs, and
they’re rocking it, right? They’re confident in their bodies and
they’re showing them off, not sitting in the corner waiting for someone
to say something nasty. And I’ve seen those girls get swarmed by guys
who want them. I’ve wanted those girls. There’s nothing
sexier–seriously. There’s nothing sexier than someone who knows what
she’s got, and knows it’s hot. That’s sexy. You can’t say that you
didn’t get looked at twice because you were fat and all guys are
shallow. That’s way too easy.

It happens, though, I said. And some men, some people, they are
shallow. And they are just offended by the existence of fat people.
Some people just wait for the chance to tell someone that they’re
disgusting and that you are an offense against nature and it’s horrible
and it hurts.

It happens, E said, I know it does. But fuck them. And
okay, how often does it happen? Did it? How could you have lived your
life just waiting for it to happen? That’s what really upsets me. That
you were always afraid.

I was, I said. I was always afraid. And you know what’s weird? It’s so
hard to not be afraid. That’s my default. To stay hunched down and
quiet. Maybe that’s why I get mad when someone hits on me.

You can’t
keep thinking like that, E said. It’s going to make you crazy. No one
should think like that.

I wish someone had told me that a long time
ago, I said. I mean, it’s not, like, a magical cure. But–

He squeezed my hand. We were quiet, for a moment. So you liked it, he said. Right?

  5 comments for “conceptions and mis-

  1. sally
    March 25, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    ooooh, sexy. It’s not about body image…for him at least…

  2. anon
    March 25, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    E’s totally right. Except he’s not. And I adore him, for all the lovely and sweet things you write about him. And he’ll probably say it’s easy for me to say what I’m about to say, that it dismisses him and doesn’t let him participate in the conversation, but…but…he can’t know what it was like for you. He can sympathize, but he can’t know. And not because he’s a man. Because he was never that size. He never felt like a target in public. It’s something you can’t ever make someone who hasn’t lived it fully understand. And it’s something that you will carry with you, inside, no matter how small you get, Anne. It shaped you in so many ways, and the most positive thing I can say about it–despite the many pains it caused–is that I honestly believe it gives you something special, a unique sensitivity to the world, that is so good. Oh, and to go from being invisible, or worse, a target, to being hit on? I’m not sure you ever fully get used to it!

  3. March 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Oh, girlfriend. I have been in the same exact situation. I used to be that girl with the scowl on her face just gritting her teeth waiting for the nasty comments to come – and believe me, sometimes they did. But now I get to be the girl who’s not perfect, but who isn’t ashamed anymore. Who doesn’t think everyone’s staring at her with pity and judgment. Who, for the first time in her whole life, is pretty darn happy with her body (though my thighs might disagree).

    E’s right. And a little bit wrong. I mean, he’s right that some guys think a woman with confidence IS sexy. But there will always be guys who make stupid jokes at the expense of girls who don’t look like Paris Hilton. And who the fuck wants to date them, anyway?

  4. Jez
    March 25, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I hear ya. I have been told by my friends (mostly gay guys) that despite being heavy, I have a way of moving my body that covers over the fact that I am constantly thinking people are judging my weight and exudes sexy vibes. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get the random insults from assholes who I really do regret not kicking in the balls in the middle of the night as I walked home. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get people pussy footing around the subject of weight when they see that I am around. Heavy girls, especially ones like me who have been heavy their whole lives, are trained to be on the defensive from those who would judge them on their appearance and tell them flat out that they are fat and/or ugly. That’s why the body acceptance movement is so important – it gives people a forum to speak in and support from others to let them know that the opinions of others don’t count. Fuck the guys (and girls) that would insult or judge. Its not about them. It hurts, but its not about them. Its about how you feel about yourself.

  5. Tara
    March 28, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I agree with the ladies above me, E is right and he is wrong but it’s lovely that he at least try’s to be right!
    Heavier girls are targets of insults whether it’s blatant or subtle. I live with a guy who will proudly/eagerly introduce our other house mate (blonde/sexy/skinny/cheerleader) to his friends, he’s always eager to be in photos with her and in general wants to be seen with her. Myself? Not so much. I’m not sure which hurts more, that or the outright someone saying in my face I’m ugly or calling me fat.
    Of course these instances don’t happen all the time but as Anne said there’s always that wince just ready, always in the background that stops you from going out there and really being friendly and social for fear of what others might say and people who have never been bigger just don’t understand and I don’t think they ever will.
    It’s true some bigger girls with confidence will land the guys but I would say they’re the exception rather than the rule. Also, when you are bigger if you do get someone giving you the eye more often than not you wonder if you have something on you, or if they’re making fun of you. Or at least, that’s always been my experience.

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