To the man who fat-shamed me from his car – do you realise what impact your actions had that day?
I was minding my own business, walking back to my car after paying for petrol. Lost in my own thoughts, of which there were many, given that I was (and still am) in the midst of a fairly tumultuous time in my life.
I was minding my own business and owed you nothing, and yet when you pulled up in your car filled with 3 other men, booming loud music and shouted your insults, you took something from me.
The black and white polka dot top I’d chosen to wear that day had already caused me some discomfort. My grandma said it was one of her favourites, but it felt too baggy and unflattering and like it didn’t quite cover my unruly body enough for me to feel safe.
Putting my hair in a ponytail is a second-day-hair-only act. Drawing it up and away from my face leaves me feeling exposed; rounded jawline and almost double chin left swaying in the wind. I wore my hair up that day because the frustration of spending an hour each morning making myself ‘presentable’ won over my lack of confidence in my physical appearance, and I’d gotten an extra 15 minutes of sleep instead.
I talk about the way I looked that day as though it mattered, when really, it shouldn’t have. But I was already self-conscious, as I often am, and had maybe managed to forget about it for half a second whilst buying some milk before a rough-looking man with dark hair and broad Boro accent made pig noises at me whilst hanging out of a car window, and reminded me that I don’t get to forget about it.
I don’t get to think about other things, like my ambitions for this blog or my plans for the weekend or what colour to paint my nails that evening. I don’t get to put my mind to the things I want to, because I’m spending too long fearing that my hair has gone frizzy or you can see the visible outline of my belly or that I’ve let my resting face slip from carefully positioned to naturally sloppy.
To the man who fat-shamed me from his car – did you stop to think about my humanity, and the repercussions of a moment that gave you and your friends something to laugh about and then promptly put out of your mind, but would carry on scraping away at the walls of my brain for weeks afterwards?
Did you stop to think about the fact that I’ve struggled with mental illness, including depression and disordered eating? That I was especially vulnerable at that time, after just coming out of a long term relationship and facing the prospect of navigating the world alone after 5 years?
Did you stop to think about the fact that at the job I was on the way home from, I recently got a big promotion because of my talents and ability in managing a business and not because of anything to do with how I look?
Did you take a second to think about that, regardless of the above and no matter who I am or where I come from, I’m a fucking person? A person that deserves to feel safe going about her day without fear of public judgement and humiliation from someone like you?
This is not meant to be a pity party. I do not want you to feel sorry for me. I want you to acknowledge that this is the experience of fat people in the world every day, and that it’s not okay.
I want you to consider all the times you’ve mocked someone because of their weight, to their face or not, and accept that what you did was prejudiced and dehumanising.
To the man who fat-shamed me from his car – I know that you may never change. You may never see what was wrong about what you did. But hopefully, in sharing this story, other people will.
And so, you may have silenced and greatly upset me that day, and for the weeks after.
But that silence is over, and what I really want to say, now, to you, the man who fat-shamed me from his car?