We are all told that little rhyme when we are growing up. It’s meant to keep us safe from mean words.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
It’s great in theory but it’s a lie. Words can hurt horrendously.
It’s an obvious thing really. Don’t use the n-word to a person of colour. Don’t use the f-word to a gay person. Don’t tell someone they are ugly. Don’t point out someone’s lower than average intellect.
You know what’s not actually socially unacceptable yet? Telling someone they are fat.
Tonight I got in a taxi. He was so proud of himself because he remembered me. He excitedly told me that he has driven me a couple of times before.
Wanna know why he remembered me?
“I drive you before. I remember you. You fat.”
Now, I doubt he meant any offence. He was just really chatty. He was merely stating a fact. To him I facially look like every other white woman, no doubt. What makes me stand out is my size.
I had this before. Years ago I slipped down some marble type stairs outside a building. There was water on them. The taxi driver told me that if I wasn’t fat, I wouldn’t have been hurt.
Both were Pakistani.
(Which I say not as a slur but as a fact which will play out further along in my post.)
On the flip side, when I got really sick and couldn’t eat properly for 6 plus months so lost a bunch of weight, the Filipinas that I knew couldn’t stop praising me for how sexy I was looking or how I was now beautiful. I wasn’t healthy but hey, I was looking better.
This is what you get when you live in a melting pot. Society throws you all together and it’s fun. But with the good you have to take the bad. There was no malice meant today or when I fell. There was no malice meant when I had lost weight and suddenly looked more acceptable. But you put together different cultures and add English as a second language and sometimes you get hurt.
There was no such excuse however for Essex born financial advisor Paul, who shouted at me in the street that I was a “fat cunt” who would never get laid. Why did he do this? (At the same time the Filipinas were telling me I was looking good, as an aside.) He decided to attack how I looked because I didn’t say goodbye as I walked off with my friends.
I hadn’t been speaking to him. He wasn’t someone I knew. I threw a “bye” over my shoulder as I went off to flag down a cab but this wasn’t good enough for him. He called me a bunch of other things too, to the point random bystanders threatened to call the police. It wasn’t fun.
My point is that he may have thought I was arrogant or rude, but what gave him the right to call me a fat anything?
Then there was the guy I was seeing briefly who broke up with me by telling me if I ever wanted a boyfriend, I needed to lose weight. Again, in the aforementioned “sexy” years.
Why, in this day and age where people are always worried about what they say and not being phobic or abusive, why is it still ok to shame fat people?
I made it to the end of my taxi journey without crying. I made it two steps away before the floodgates opened. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that but it’s true. Despite logically knowing the taxi driver was just chatting, it hurt to know I am the fat girl. That there is nothing else remarkable about me except my weight.
People don’t realise that it hurts. They don’t realise that some people, like me, are emotional eaters. I quit smoking. I rarely drink any more. I eat. When I am stressed or unhappy, I eat. When I don’t want to get out of bed because I am so miserable, I get up so I can have breakfast.
Is it right? No. But it’s me. It’s how I get through the day. I don’t know how I make it sometimes but I do.
Tonight I am having a glass of wine for dinner. And probably some crisps. Because I am hurting.
Next time you think something mean, or you make a joke at the expense of someone fat, just take a moment to think. Make time to realise that they are a human too. Give them a silent back slap for facing the world when it’s programmed to hate them.
Just try and be nice.