Mo Pie and I went to the Bubble Lounge, this past weekend, and we were dressed fancy–she in a boobtacular, spectacular dress, me in my new black satin cocktail dress that I suspect will get pulled out at every single black-dress function I attend for the rest of my life, and both of us in elbow-length gloves. We were rocking the opera gloves and drinking champagne and eating strawberries with chocolate. It is the way to live, and it will make you happy.
Champagne makes me not only happy, but chatty. It also makes me need to pee. As I was leaving the restroom, a cute girl in a very cute diagonally striped shirt was coming down the hallway toward me. I said “Hi! I like your top! Where’d you get it?” She looked startled and uncomfortable and shifty. She looked away for a second, and then back at me. She laughed nervously and said, “Oh! I don’t remember. Some boutique somewhere, I think!” and marched on to the bathroom.
As I was heading back up the stairs, I realized what had happened. This
girl was plus-sized, I realized, and she had probably just done what I
used to do a million times before, when I was shopping at Lane Bryant
and Torrid and The Avenue. Someone would say, “Cute top!” and I would
freeze up. If they wanted to know where I got it, I would lie. I’d say,
“Oh! I don’t remember!” Even if they didn’t ask me where I got it, I
would say something ridiculous like, “Thanks! I wish I remembered where
I had got it! Ha ha!” As if I was so cleverly, so skillfully throwing
off any possible speculation or suspicion that I had maybe, perhaps,
purchased that cute top at a plus-size store, and that maybe that means
I was OMGfat.
I told Mo Pie, when I got back upstairs, and she recognized that girl’s
response, too. She had done it herself. We reminisced about being
embarrassed about where we had shopped. I pointed the girl out when she
came up the stairs and headed back to the table, and we agreed that oh man, she
was so cute and why’d she have to go and say that, because that was so dumb! We wished that she hadn’t been so embarrassed. I wanted
to grab the back of her shirt and find the label that said Venezia and
say Aha! And hey! This is not a bad thing! That is a cute shirt! And
then we’d all have strawberries. Mo said she was going to write about
it for Big Fat Deal, and I said Oh! That’s a great
idea! And then she did.
When I read the entry, I realized something that hadn’t occurred to me
the entire time–when I cornered the girl, when I was remembering my own
embarrassment, when I told the story to Mo. I don’t shop at Lane
Bryant, now. I don’t look like I am the physical type to shop there.
And now I am wondering if it is possible if this cute girl who knew I
wasn’t plus sized thought I was making fun of her, that I was making
some kind of horrible fat joke. Did she look nervous because she
thought I was going to say, “Oh really? And was that boutique called
Al’s Tents and Mumus, ha ha ha?” Was I inadvertently a giant asshole to
this girl? Did I make her feel uncomfortable and stupid? Am I being an
giant asshole now, assuming that my size could make her feel that way?
I am extrapolating–I know I would have felt terribly self-conscious
when I was plus sized, if anyone smaller than me had asked me about my
clothes. I would have braced for the punch line. I would have waited
for the smug remark. I would have wanted to cry, and change, because I
had worn something that obviously made me a target. It’s unfair to
think that this girl had the self-esteem issues I had. I want to
apologize. Would it be even ruder to apologize? Even ruder to assume
that I have to?
I feel like I’m not allowed to talk about the difference between plus size and straight sizes. I feel like, even as I type that sentence, that that is completely ridiculous and stupid. Except that it’s not, entirely.
There’s a gap, there, in understanding. There’s a gap in how people of different sizes are treated so differently. There’s so frequently a gap of empathy and sympathy and understanding–and I have been on both sides of that divide and I want to bridge it. But how is it my place to fix things, and can I even? I don’t think I can. Even if I made it my job, would anyone even want me to, or would I just make things worse? You tell me, because I just keep talking myself in circles.