Yesterday, Dada, the Bean and I went to a local frozen yogurt place to get a sweet treat. Dada and I had split yard-mowing duties on our acre-plus lawn (we have a self-propelled mower, so it’s definitely a workout), and the weather was sweltering. The day was perfect for a little cool deliciousness, and the Bean loves her some fro-yo. All in all, one of my better weekend ideas.
We got there, got a high chair, and plopped the Bean down in it. Dada sat down with her at a table while I went through the ordering line, getting my cup, filling it with milk-chocolate-flavored awesomeness and topping it off with chopped almonds, brownie bites, chocolate chips, and a little hot fudge (I like chocolate. Shut up). Once I was done, I came back to our booth to hang out with the Bean while Dada went and got his yogurt ready. Except that, when I got there, he was sitting rigidly in his chair, jaw set, eyes narrowed.
“What’s the matter?”
“Come on, what’s the matter?” I looked around, checked the Bean, tried to see if anything was amiss. No dice. “You okay?”
“Fine.” Through gritted teeth.
Dada got up, got his yogurt in record time, and came back, scowling.
“Seriously, what’s the matter with you?” I asked, slightly annoyed now.
“Not right now.” He cut his eyes to the group of three young twenty-somethings sitting behind us.
“Ah,” I said, understanding. “Okay.” I let the subject drop.
Of course, I only let it drop until the trio behind us finished their yogurt and walked out the door. As soon as they were gone, I turned back to Dada and demanded to know what the hell was going on. I didn’t expect to be yanked back to middle school when he finally told me, though.
“That bitch,” he seethed, “the bitch in the lime green tank top. She was looking at you when you were getting your yogurt.”
“Her friend pointed you out, and when you were at the checkout counter, that bitch just turned to her friend and said, ‘Well, now I don’t feel so fat.’ I guess they thought I wouldn’t hear them. I turned to look at them, and the guy that was with them said, ‘Dude, shut up,’ and pointed at me. That bitch didn’t even bat an eye and just went, ‘Whatever.’ They’re lucky I had the Bean with me. Don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t.“
I felt a little winded. And my eyes prickled. I immediately wanted to stop eating my yogurt, go to the bathroom, and cry. But I didn’t. I kept on eating, offered the Bean a bite (which she gobbled down, grinning), and said, faux-nonchalantly, “Well, she’s right. I’m fat.”
I know. I shocked me, too.
Since college, I’ve probably put on about 50-60 pounds. Now, granted, that’s only about 5-6 pounds a year–but when you don’t lose the five pounds each year, they add up. And, in my case, they’ve added up the point where I’m carrying 180 pounds on a 5’4″ frame. No two ways about it–I’m heavy. I carry it well, but there’s no way to carry it that well, if you know what I mean. I know I’m fat. Heavy. Hefty. Zaftig. Whatever you want to call it, I’m it.
I’m not saying that fat is good. Or bad. Fat is what it is. I don’t feel comfortable where I currently reside, weight-wise, and am working towards getting healthier (mostly to set a good example for the Bean and to get back in shape before we start trying for the next baby–it’s just a better pregnancy that way).
Here’s the deal, though: Even though I don’t disagree with that bitch, I’m glad Dada didn’t tell me about her little pronouncement while she was still accessible. My tongue is too sharp, my wit too cutting, my desire to SMACK too strong. I probably would have made a scene in a family eatery–never a good thing–and I would not want to lose my cool in front of my daughter (who, even at 14 months, has a disturbing tendency to imitate the bad stuff–and has a good memory, to boot. Don’t want her seeing that).
However. Had I the opportunity to say something to that bitch and her sniveling little partner in snide, here’s what I would love to have said:
Hi. Yes, hi. Hi. I heard you call me fat. I know you didn’t think it would be a big deal, and it isn’t–I know I’m fat. But I wanted to come over here and talk to you about it. You seemed shocked I’m here, talking to you. Yeah–unfortunately, fat people still have ears, and we can still hear. I know–shocking that they’re not plugged up with lard. Ha. Ha. Here’s the deal, sweetheart:
I know I’m fat. I know I’m heavy. I know that my ass is wide and my thighs are big. I know that my arms lack definition, and I know that my stomach sticks out. I know all this because these are things that I see every morning when I dress myself, and they are almost the only things I can see when I look in the mirror. I’m not blind.
You wanna know what else I see when I look at my body, though? I see a wonderful, amazing machine. This incredible body of mine carried a child to term, and then performed admirably though 37 hours of labor. These flabby arms support and cradle a 25-pound little girl all day long, and then have the strength to play airplane before her bedtime. These fat thighs go up and down stairs all day long, carrying laundry, and boxes, and a sleepy little naptime kid. My body works for me, in a way that yours never has–and maybe never will. Sure, I don’t treat it with the respect I should and that it deserves. And yes, I know I’m out of shape, and maybe I shouldn’t be wearing these black leggings, but you know what? I don’t feel the need to make a snide remark to make myself feel better about stuffing my face with ice cream. I’m more secure in myself than that, and I’ve come to terms with myself in a more adult fashion. Good luck with that in the next few years.
Your ass may be smaller than mine (not by much, though–don’t kid yourself), and your metabolism may be faster (for now–don’t hold your breath). But your SELF–that little voice inside your head, that little beat inside your heart, that little piece of you that should be your biggest cheerleader–that is better in me than in you. Wanna know why?
Because, although I might compare myself to others, I don’t feel the need to do it out loud just so that I can have everyone’s sympathy. Because, although I sometimes need a pick-me-up, I don’t belittle others to get it. Because, although I may be snarky and snippy and sarcastic, I know enough to hold my damn tongue when I’m not saying anything of value. Because my biggest competition is always MYSELF, and not some stranger that I feel the need to put down. Because I have manners.
I judge both you AND your upbringing.
But, thank you: You’ve taught me exactly how I DON’T want my daughter to be. Take joy in the fact that you’ve become a teaching moment–I don’t ever want my daughter to be “that bitch.”
Oh, and one more thing: Those black leggings YOU’RE wearing? They make your ass look fat.