I had an experience yesterday that left me in complete awe.
I was at a McDonald’s restaurant, walking back out to my car. There was a small family with two young girls sitting in the enclosed playground area eating their dinner. I looked over to them and remember making a mental note of how cute they all were. They seemed like such a sweet family just by looking at them.
Then, I heard it. One of the little girls, probably no older than 4 or so, said, “Look at that lady, Mommy!”
And I was ready for it. I’d heard this set-up a million times before on the playgrounds where I grew up.
I was ready for, “She’s fat.”
When you grow up fat, it becomes impossible to live your everyday life without constantly having your body on your mind in some capacity. Whether it’s about your physical capability, or about how much space you occupy, or the most likely culprit of being overly-concerned with how someone else is perceiving you, your body ends up taking up as much metaphorical space in your mind as it does in the world — and sometimes a whole lot more.
[quote type=”center”]I was ready for, “She’s fat.”[/quote]
So you prepare yourself for these moments. You steel yourself to them. Your mind races with witty comebacks, or the warm prickling of anxiety washes over your skin. And even if you’re really good at pretending that it doesn’t hurt, at some level, it always does, even if it shouldn’t.
We should all be allowed to be happy and live our lives free from the judgement of others and ourselves. There are plenty of things I can’t do because of my fat body, but there are plenty of things that I can. In fact, there are probably plenty of things my body can do that would surprise people (like when I took a yoga class over the summer and outperformed a third of the class even though I was twice as big as most of them). My body is strong and capable and lovely and dammit, it should be celebrated.
[quote type=”center”]I had psyched myself up to be ready for the gut-punch that always comes.[/quote]
As a mom, I understand how kids can be though. That little girl was only about 4, and at that age, they’re really just making observations. It’s rarely an attempt to be malicious, it’s simply an “Oh, that’s different” comment.
So I had psyched myself up to be ready for the gut-punch that always comes.
And then the little girl said, “She’s wearing a Batman shirt! She’s cool!”
In the end though, I walked away from the situation with the revelation that fandom is powerful. It can transcend so many levels of judgement that are woven into the fabric of our society and bring people closer if they open their hearts and minds to it. There’s nothing better than sharing something you geek out about with another person who will geek out about it with you — regardless of what they look like.
And, I mean, Batman. Because … Batman.