The last time someone greeted me with that abuse I was at a funeral. I am self-respecting and growing in wisdom and diplomacy, thankfully. And, as I profess Christ, I also try not to repay unkindness with like behaviour so I am really working at being slow to speak. However, nothing stops the responses that begin to play in my head.
Before I tell you about those narratives, I would like to state emphatically that pointing to someone’s weight can never constitute a greeting. In fact, unless you live in a society where it is culturally pleasing to celebrate weight gain as a symbol of “good treatment,” commenting on another person’s weight is unmannerly, insensitive, and uncaring. Frankly, it is none of your business.
Many people do this. Often I wonder if those who utter the question are being deliberately derogatory of the other. Is it meant to make the other person feel inferior? Ashamed? Insulted? Because surely such an utterance could never be meant as an exchange to encourage or propagate friendship and good wellbeing.
Shaming people who are not what the world has made us accept or believe is the “correct size” is an ongoing onslaught of abuse that remains unchecked. Our prejudice about fat, overweight, or obese bodies jumps out of our mouth with spontaneity and a familiarity mostly beyond the relationship that we are having, always leaving me bemused.
And I understand these prejudices. I have them, too, because I am a product of the selfsame conditioning. But I am proud of the inner work in which I am engaged that teaches me to see people’s humanity first. I live in the same world where thinness is proudly celebrated and the rest of us are expected to avail ourselves to an overwhelming syllabus of fad diets, juice diets, starvation programmes, nutrition packages, et al, promising an easy way to not be fat and to which all my thin friends probably think I should subscribe.
I am privy to the fact that the weight-loss gurus and scientists for too long have prompted every fat body to be lumped in the categories slob, lazy, and a full dozen scorn-filled phrases that express disgust at other human beings. I am evidence of a body that once was the best figure you have seen now ravaged by aging, cycles of illness, and decades of necessary medication with the distinct disclaimer saying something like “25 per cent of users experience severe weight gain” where I have had to take a deep breath and vote on the side of preserving my immediate wellbeing.
I am not a slob. I am not a glutton. I am not lazy. But I am overweight and it is a constant battle that I carry on privately. I am a careful eater with insufficient physical activity (like most people we know) carrying the guilt of a weight on the scale that last showed my Body Mass Index above 30. I am carrying an obese weight. I have been mostly indoors for two years, like most people I know, and often take time to applaud my efforts to stay alive and as healthy as I can.
When I dress in my finest designer frock and go out it would be for a solemn occasion like supporting a best friend in a time of grief. I do not take kindly to anyone’s abuse. You do not know the trauma you cause me by your reckless, bigoted, nasty comment about my “size”(wearing your foolish grin).
Frankly, we really need to learn good manners and kindness or just stay home with our lousy social ungraciousness if we cannot control ourselves sufficiently to shut up after our salutations, especially when we have nothing (good) to say.
We do not know what people are battling, we do not seem to care what traumas people carry as they see their own body size portrayed negatively. It will do us well to consider the status of the world, embroiled in multiple pandemics of sundry illnesses and diseases, and imagine it could use less scorn and shaming.
So, if you are blessed sufficiently to see me in 2022 please remember to celebrate the fact that we are still alive. I have everything else I need for now, thank you.
And as promised, here’s what my head did in (quiet) retort as the man who walks with one shoulder way above the other assaulted me:
1. Where you going with your size?
2. That thing going down by your knee, is that your belly?
3. Since I small you have a “K” foot, where you going with that?
Those were the kinder things that went through my head in my irritation.
I keep saying wearing masks is a blessing because I also have a face that could cut you down in retaliation especially since that foolish question remains a terrible trigger for me and always leaves me traumatised.
It is 2022. People are dying all around us. Let’s practise celebrating the best in ourselves and others.