Modification of the Knee-Jerk Reaction.

I’m comfortable with my body. This is something I established a long time ago. I adore my body, hell, I’m even turned on by my own body.

It’s other people who have a problem with it. Just by being who I am, I send a political statement, and it makes people uncomfortable. People feel entitled, even obligated, to make comments about my body. And I’m only just learning how to respond.

A few months ago I was in court for some stupid little car insurance thing. I was waiting around to be allowed to go into a courtroom, just minding my own business, when some older man (I at first wrote ‘gentleman’, but then deleted that because I don’t think he was a gentleman) in his late 60s or so came up to me, smiling. He starts off ‘I don’t even know you. . .’

I’m like, oh god, is my bra showing, do I have something in my teeth? Is he going to compliment my hair? WHAT IS THIS? And then he finishes:

“. . .but you should really think about getting that operation.”

Sigh. Look at that, a one man advocate for bariatric surgery just judgin’ my body like it’s no big deal. I just kind of looked at him, startled. I couldn’t think of words. He continues:

“I know someone who had it. It totally changed his life! Like I said, I don’t even know you, but you should look into getting it!”

You know what I did? Stupid me. I actually thanked him. It was a knee-jerk reaction, the first thing I could think of. I said ‘thank you’ to him for judging my body and making comments he had no right to make. Oh, even months later, it still makes my blood boil. I could think of a hundred things I could have said instead. Feigned ignorance/ditziness ‘huh? what surgery?’, said something saucy like ‘Nah, that’s okay, I like being fat’, or really gone off on him and said something like ‘I don’t even know YOU and that’s why I didn’t pass judgment on you until you opened your mouth!’

I vowed from that day on to get better. I decided that the next time someone talked about my weight, I better have a brand new knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t hamper my cause.

Last month I was in New York City, and I was walking around fairly aimlessly, making my way to the Empire State Building. I passed some guy, thought nothing of it. About 20 minutes later, I see him again. And of course, he has to start walking right next to me.

“Wow! You’re all the way up here now! When I saw you before you were way back there. You know, I just have to tell you, I think it’s SO good that you’re walking everywhere.”

Yup. Here we go again.

“You know, my sister was a big, big girl, and then she started walking. She’s lost so much weight just by walking, hasn’t changed her eating habits or anything!”

I just kind of shook my head, refusing to acknowledge him or look at him.

“Well,” I said. “It is possible to be fat and still walk places.”

“Oh, I know, I know! I’m just saying! You keep that up, you’ll start losing all kinds of weight!”

At that point, I pulled my necklace out from under my shirt and flashed it at him like a cop would flash a badge. “Maybe I like being fat”, I said, and I just continued walking. I felt pretty proud of myself for that.

A couple weeks ago at work, the moment I walked in for my shift, a new admission (I work at a psychiatric facility, by the way) took one look at me and said “You need to lose weight. For your health!” I walked right past her and said “I’m perfectly healthy, but thanks anyway!” Obviously it’s fruitless to pursue any kind of size acceptance dialog in that kind of environment, so I just let it go.

And then last night. Same idea. I was at work. I was walking down the hall to use the restroom, and a patient came out of his room and cornered me.

“You weigh about 30 pounds more than my mother’s friend. Let me ask you someting. Are you happy?”

I respond. “Yes.”

“Are you healthy?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re not overweight.”

He’s a patient who’s pretty with it, so I simply said “Well, the term overweight implies there’s a correct or ‘normal’ weight to be at to begin with. And I don’t believe that’s true.”

“Neither do I!”, he says.

“I do identify as fat, though, and that’s okay!”

He stopped for a beat and then just said “Rock on!”, shook my hand, and walked away.

I could talk about a hundred other examples, but I find it rather interesting just from a psychological/sociological standpoint. Either people have to act like they’re concerned and want the best for me, and start laying on diet/exercise/bariatric surgery tips, or they somehow feel guilty for the plight I must have as a fat person and feel the need to either tell me that my weight is okay (which I already know) or be saccharine sweet as if it somehow makes up for the people who DO judge me harshly.

I think it’s strange mostly because as a fat woman in America, I’m hardly a minority. There are more and more fatties cropping up all the time. I don’t know. Maybe these people have seen so many headless fatties on the news that they forget until they see me that us fat people are more than just the ‘obesity epidemic’ and that we do have faces and lives and feelings.

Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting observation so I thought I’d write a little something about it.

As that patient last night said, rock on!!

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This entry was posted in confidence, dieting, diets, FA, fat acceptance, self esteem, self-love, size acceptance. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Modification of the Knee-Jerk Reaction.

  1. kevkev says:

    Amber’s just fucking things uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup with logic again

  2. I really wish I had your confidence. I am 20 years old 5’8 and 330 pounds. I hate myself, I hate looking in the mirror, I hate it all. Where did you find your confindence? I only feel semi good when I have make-up on and cute clothes. Then if I have that stuff on and have to walk up stairs with friends any confindence I had is gone completely.

  3. sara says:

    You’re such a great writer, I love this blog. 🙂 Rock on!

  4. Lindsey says:

    I agree. Book, please.

  5. Star says:

    You are amazing and I LOVE YOU!! I’m 23, 5’10” and 365 lbs. It took me a long time to feel totally comfortable about myself. It was actually just in the last 2 years. My boyfriend is really the one who did it for me. He would (does) tell me all the time how sexy and beautiful I looked, and he gave my confidence a HUGE boost, even just in the first few months. I was confined to tshirts and jeans, now I wear skirts and hot tops, and if something looks really good on me, I weaar it. I could care less what other people think.

  6. Thanks for sharing your perspective. We all become better when we are able to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be inside someone else’s head.

  7. Jackie Yoshi says:

    If a guy came up to me and concern trolled me about walking, I’d have wanted to tell him, “That’s right! I’m walkng! Do you make ahabit of going up to fat people, and encouraging them the way one encourages a child? If I wasn’t walking what you do then, would you tut tut at me and say I was being a naughty girl? Fat people are not children in adult bodies, fat people know how to take care of themselves, and don’t need you cheering them on the sidelines. Did I just ruin your good deed for the day?

    Next time you see a fat person, please try to understand their health or activity is none of your business. They don’t want you, or anyone else treating them like they’re thick, (British version of the term) that they need the kindness of thin strangers like you to guide them. I’m a fat adult, I do not appreciate you treating me like a child!”

    For those who may not know this, the British term thick, means to suggest someone is dumb. In the US it’s considered a compliment towards fat people. I just think, it sounds slghtly less ableist than dumb, or idiot. Then again, I’m not British, probably would be more offensive to them. I just watch a lot of Dr. Who.

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