Nate and I have an annual tradition of hosting a Kentucky Derby party each year. This is also the time of year that we use as our motivation to clean house from top to bottom. Because the Derby is next week, and Nate is out of town a few days, we spent most of the weekend cleaning. We agreed that we’d take a break on Sunday and have a lunch date and shoot some photos for Seersucker Optional. I just got some very cute new things, and was looking forward to sharing them with all of you.
On Sunday afternoon, I spent time doing my hair, extra care with my makeup, and some significant time putting together the looks we were going to shoot. We drove down to the waterfront, and as we couldn’t find street parking, decided to park in one of their garages.
As we were exiting the garage, a few vehicles were pulling in. We made sure that the driver of one (waiting to pull forward behind another car) saw us, and walked behind them. They immediately started backing up into us. We stopped, waved, and then shouted as they continued to BACK THEIR CAR INTO US. The car actually brushed my arm. As we leapt out of their way, they rolled their window down and YELLED AT US… instead of apologizing. There were three young men in the car. The driver started cursing at us and telling us we should have moved faster… instead of apologizing for unexpectedly backing his car up in reverse right into us. I told him he was the one in the wrong and what was wrong with him that he was yelling at us. Still no apology for literally hitting me with his car. His response? He called me a “fat bitch” and told me to “lose some weight” before driving forward to find a spot.
I was shocked. Perhaps, because I’ve gotten used to (still not okay) people saying things about my race or just general rude comments, I was unprepared for someone to hone in on my weight. I walked over to his car, and told him, how dare he? That he was out of line, and what was wrong with him? He proceeded to unleash a whole stream about how I was a “chubby bitch” and a “fat bitch” and maybe I should shut up and lose some weight. Never mind that he had been absolutely in the wrong. Never mind that he literally hit me with his car, and was clearly such an unobservant driver he was likely to get someone killed some day. He then started in about how crazy I was that I would dare confront him, and continued unleashing his vitriolic rant.
This boy (I refuse to call him a man) was with two friends. The three were military. His friend got in my face as well, and told me that they were going to call the police because I was “in their way” and because I was a “fat bitch.” The third friend sat in the back of the car and just looked embarrassed. To be fair, he did not participate in their nasty, shaming words, but he never once told them that they were out of line and to knock it off.
I promised myself after the flood of racially motivated verbal attacks that I have begun receiving since the election, that I would never enable someone to behave like that by ignoring it and walking away. That’s not to say that I think it is acceptable to get into a physical altercation, or to go to their level, but I firmly believe that bullies need to be stood up to, and just having someone stare them down and call them out on their behavior is the only way to change the course of what many now find to be acceptable actions. I stood my ground on this one. When they walked off, I walked away.
I waited until I was safely ensconced in the art gallery across from the garage, and then I cried. Words hurt. The last thing I wanted to do was to have my photograph taken after two dimwits decided to go on a rant about how fat and unappealing I was. Despite the fact that I knew that they were selfish morons, I DID feel shamed and humiliated.
When I was in highschool, I was a size 4, and a lot LARGER than many girls in my class. (yes, as a SIZE 4). I can’t tell you how many of my friends were a 00. I always felt enormous, and as a result, I developed a really contentious relationship with food and my view of myself. I remember sitting in class next to friends, and being painfully away that my single thigh was twice the size of theirs. I stopped eating. When we would go out on the weekend to the Monmouth Mall and get dinner at the TGI Fridays, I would pocket my chicken fingers in a napkin and slip them into my purse, so I only was consuming one of them. I would give away my lunch during history class (I was in a bunch of honors classes, and we had a crazy class ranking system, so none of my peers took a lunch period. Our history teacher, knowing this, let us eat our brown bag lunches in class). I remember weeks before prom, eating a handful of saltines for my breakfast and lunch. I allowed myself one meal a day, dinner, so my parents wouldn’t suspect there was anything wrong. In college, I dropped down to a size 2. I limited myself to an 800 calorie day and I was getting a ton of exercise (the University of Maryland campus has the dorms so far off of main campus that you are walking a mile each way to class easily). By sophomore year, I realized I needed to change my eating habits. Once you add alcohol to the mix, it puts you at risk for getting violently ill and being sick all the time. It made me really change my relationship with food and how I view it.
These days, I love food. Instead of looking at it with dread, I embrace it, and really love trying different restaurants, and flavors, and foods. My struggle with weight has been ongoing my whole life, but I have become fairly comfortable with where I am. Of course, I’d love to lose some weight and have more options in terms of style and fit. (when a designer’s size large fits like a size 6-8 and its the largest size they make… yeah, it doesn’t always give me an option to wear them). But I thought I was getting pretty comfortable with my body. Enter those jerks yesterday.
I don’t understand how it is that people think these things are okay to ever say. I had a rough day as a result. I usually am pretty immune to this kind of crap, but for some reason, they really got to me. Luckily, I have some really incredible friends who helped talk me through it. So, instead of getting a post on my Derby Days event outfit (maybe I’ll get that up tomorrow), or the new j.crew lemon sweater and badgley mischka sneakers that I was going to shoot this weekend, you get this post. I allowed myself a day to cry and now I am sharing this with my head held high and a resolution to move forward. Don’t allow these assholes to win. Stand up for yourself, and don’t ever let someone else steal your self esteem.
If you made it to the end of this essay, I really appreciate your support of my blog and in doing so, saying that it is okay for girls of all sizes to have a voice, a sense of style, and that we can all be comfortable with who we are. (And on behalf of my size two friends, whether you are a size two or a size 20, we all need to embrace each other’s different bodies and stop throwing around terms like too skinny or fat).