This morning I stopped at my usual Starbucks for my usual drink, an Americano. Why Starbucks? The coffee in Arizona sucks, and they're at least consistent about the bitterness and over roasting. So I'm looking at the pastry and food case, remembering I'd once again forgotten to pack my lunch. It's happening a lot more recently.
Some guy behinds me -- someone I don't know, have never met, have no connection to, let out a long sigh as I reached for the chicken & hummus box. When I decided I'd rather have a croissant, and the girl went to grab one, he sighed again.
"Do you really need that croissant?"
I'm fat, but I'm not as fat as I could be, and not as fat as I have been. At under five feet tall, and with a large bone structure, anything over about 120lbs looks pretty big, and I'm somewhere between 30 and 40lbs bigger than I'd like to be. But you see, it doesn't matter. I could be 5lbs overweight. I could be at a healthy weight. I could be underweight.
This guy would still find it his business.
I mean, look at the world around us. Look at those gossip magazines at the top. Look at any gossip magazine, listen in on a bunch of people talking about someone who's left the room. She's fat. She's let herself go. Did you see her eat that extra slice of pizza?
Society tells us that if we aren't perfect for the men in our lives, we are worthless. We must always be on the verge of effortless perfection for men, because everything we do is for them. Right?
The right kind of woman is effortlessly flawless. We can't win. The only way to win is to shut out the media, shut out the people passing by, and sometimes, shut out your family and friends. And that's hard. People like to throw around things like "just live for yourself!" "ignore the bad and focus on the good!" "don't let them get to you!"
People test you. They ask you to rationalize the reason you don't fit their personal specifications for beauty or even normalcy. I've fallen into the trap too many times, being quick to say "Yeah, I'm fat, but I also go to the gym almost every day after word, lift weights, and eat better than most people I know." But they'll ask you to clarify -- wait, just what do you eat? How many calories? How often? How heavy are the weights? Do you use white flour? Do you eat after 8?
Because I must be doing something wrong, right? In truth, there's a lot more to the story. I have an eating disorder. I've had an eating disorder since I was a kid. It's caused a lot of problems with my body, and not just mentally perceived problems. I'm talking permanently borked metabolism, heart issues, thinned out hair, vitamin deficiency. I'm not in treatment for a number of reasons.
The guy behind me at Starbucks doesn't know this. He doesn't know I wake up in the morning and already start worrying about calories. Doesn't know I stand in my kitchen and talk myself into and out of eating a handful of grapes. Doesn't follow me into the grocery store where I intend to splurge and buy myself a piece of cake and walk out with peanut butter and the entire trip takes me forty-five minutes even though the store's five minutes away. He isn't there the nights I make myself throw up my dinner because I ate one slice of tomato too many. Or when I wake myself up in the middle of the night to work out at home.
But does it really matter? He doesn't know.
Right. Exactly. He doesn't know. So why should he say anything at all? Why should any one of us make comments like this about anyone else? People in line, celebrities. What business is it of yours if they gained five pounds, lost ten, ate a snack at 9pm?
Why do you care?
What makes you feel that level of entitlement? What makes you feel like it's yours to comment on? Shut up. I'm serious. SHUT. UP.
Last week, Fizzygrrl wrote a great blog post about getting revenge on a woman who made a really nasty comment about her in a grocery store. Read it. Understand it. It really informed what happened after the guy said something.
I turned with a big ol' smile on my face. "I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear you. Did you ask if I really needed that croissant?"
He looked embarrassed. Fiddled on his phone. When I didn't turn away, he threw up his hands. "What? Do you want me to apologize or something?"
"No." I didn't want his apology. He's just some neckbeardy douchebag who probably cries himself to sleep because his favorite anime didn't end the way he wanted it to. "But if you could stop commenting on what other people are eating and maybe mind your own business, that'd be great."
Of course, as soon as I turned around, he muttered "bitch" because of course he did, because that's what they do. When called out on misogyny, resort to even more misogyny. It's in the neckbeard handbook.
As much as I wanted to make a scene and call him out on it, I let it slide. Because that's another battle for another time.
The point of this post, really, is to get you to shut up. All of you. Everyone. About bodies. About who's fat, who's skinny, who eats too much, who might not eat enough. Stop. I'm serious. It's none of your business. The second you open your mouth to make a fat joke about someone, you're doing no better than the scumbags who run those gossip magazines. You're helping an entire sect of our culture get away with trashing people.
Women, we are allowed to like food. It doesn't matter if you're fat or thin, it's okay. We are allowed to talk about it. We are allowed to diet. It doesn't mean we're high maintenance -- but if we are, that doesn't have to be a bad thing. We are allowed to be proud of our results when we work out. Strong women are wonderful. We're allowed to be proud of our bodies if we don't work out.
You are allowed to eat whatever the hell you want to eat for breakfast, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.