To the guys who yelled at me on my way home yesterday…
I am fat. Well spotted.
I am not extraordinarily fat. There’s no equipment required to move me. I don’t fret too much about plane seats. I can still buy clothes in high street shops. Well, most of them. But I am fat. In fact, by some standards, I am obese.
I know I am fat. I am keenly aware of it. I see it every time I look in the mirror. Sometimes it’s all I see. I see it when I want to look nice for something and all I can fixate on are the rolls of stomach or the massive bottom. I am reminded of it when my little boy laughs about my big tummy. (“People might think there’s a baby in there!”). I feel it when I worry that his friends might make fun of him. Because of me. I feel it when I contemplate squeezing onto a ride at the fair, or being ushered to a seat in a small-looking chair with arms. Every day, my life revolves around trying to camouflage my fatness. Carefully chosen clothes. Big hair. Loud laugh. Finding excuses for not doing things. Dieting. Sometimes, even just being SEEN to be dieting. Some of this, or all of it, Every. Single. Day. – more or less – for more than 25 years.
Lately, though, I’ve decided to try and stop obsessing about my weight. I am trying to stop looking at my body in terms of what I don’t like, what I want to eliminate, and start looking at it in terms of what it might be capable of. I mean, it made a whole other person, right? That’s pretty neat. What else could it do, given the chance?
So, I’m exercising more. Training. Doing more yoga. Drinking less. Eating well. Meditating. And cycling to work.
And yes, I wear Lycra on the bike. It’s cool, comfortable and practical. It has pockets for things I need easy access to (t-shirts do not), it wicks (t-shirts do not) and it dries really quickly so you’re not putting a damp shirt back on at the end of the day (seriously t-shirts, up your game).
Still, though, for all its advantages, Lycra is unforgiving. And is another reminder of the fact that I am fat. I know you can’t miss it – it’s out there for anyone to see.
I don’t need it pointing out to me. Not really.
So, I’m not sure why you felt the need to yell “fatty fatty fatty fatty” as I rode past you yesterday.
Was it for my benefit? In case I hadn’t realised? Because if so, let me tell you again: I know I’m fat. Save your breath. Or alternatively use it to tell me something interesting that I don’t already know.
Was it to alert each other to the presence of a woman whose body didn’t conform to your perception of what a woman’s body should be? Because if so, let me remind you that no single person – male or female – is required to please anyone else with how they look. Even my husband – the man who I have promised to love and cherish for the ENTIRE OF MY LIFE – has no right to demand that I look a certain way. So you guys clearly are operating way outside of your remit. (NB: People with jurisdiction over my body at last count? 1. Me.)
Or, more prosaically, was your aim actually just to mock and belittle me? To make me feel bad? Because if so, you might want to review your people skills. What do you get out of making other people feel bad? Does it make you feel big to think that you’ve hurt someone’s feelings? That you’ve made someone self-conscious and unhappy? Because in and of itself, that’s pretty sad. Get a better hobby.
As it happens, I’m not that bothered. I will continue to ride my bike. I will continue to wear Lycra. I’m not being defiant, it’s just easier. And it’s easier for me to choose not to spend much more of my time thinking about why two twenty-something men – who have nothing better to do than hang around a residential road shouting at commuters – are body-shaming me in public. I will just carry on as I was.
I will continue to try to better myself.
I suggest you do the same.