Saturday, October 15, 2011

Unpretty (i.e. a Rant)

I'm reluctant to write about this publicly, because I'm afraid it will get into the hands of someone involved in this incident, but I feel the need to write about it and get some feedback to see if I'm really just much too sensitive a person (chances are, if you're reading this, I'm not talking about you).

Recently I was at a restaurant with a group of friends. We went late enough that I wasn't planning on eating, but alcohol consumption tends to bring out a desire in me to eat nasty, greasy bar food. After an hour or so I gave in and ordered an appetizer of cheesy fries with bacon. I thought nothing of it. When my food arrived, I was surprised by the portion size they gave me (an entire dinner plate--enough for a meal!) but figured I was always willing to share, or get a to-go box, if push came to shove. A few of my friends around me expressed similar amazement at the size, but as I said before, I was also a little intimidated. However, as I begin munching away at cheesy-fry bliss, the guy next to me turns and asked "do you eat healthy?" A little off-put by this question, I replied that I try to eat healthy. This is the truth; although I don't cook much and go out more than I should, I do try to be conscious about what I eat (and drink). Nonetheless, I eased up on the fries and sat back a little. "Don't judge me," I joked half-heartedly, and he quickly refuted that he wasn't.

Yet the comments persisted. A girl across the table leaned over and asked (this probably isn't verbatim but is pretty close) "How do you stay so skinny [maybe she said thin?] when I see you eat all this crap?" She was undoubtedly referring to other times when we all had gone out. I don't remember what I said back, but knowing me I probably just smiled and chuckled. "You go to the gym, right?" She asked me next. I'm proud to say that this is true, that I exercise on average about 3-5 hours a week. The guy next to me more or less repeated this question, then asked what I did to workout (in case you're wondering, I tend to use the elliptical-type machines and rowing machines).

At this point I was hurt and extremely self-conscious, and all nibbling came to a halt. I pushed my plate away slightly, which only ignited shocked outrage from others who had obviously not heard the earlier exchange. This at least produced the desired effect of having others dive into my fries (including those who had just given me shit about eating them in the first place). I ate a little more, and between a number of us the plate was mostly finished by the end of the night. Nonetheless, I couldn't let go of the hurt and resentment I felt at the comments that had been made to me. I stayed largely quiet (although I don't know if anyone noticed) and left as soon as trivia was over, with my beer unfinished. I made an excuse to not continue to hang out .

The point of this story, I guess, is to ask: What in hell made these people think that these were polite, unoffensive remarks and questions? I would never, EVER have grilled someone like that about the food they eat, especially when I only see them MAYBE once a week! The only possible exception I can think of is a close friend or relative who I know for CERTAIN is endangering themselves. The casual "wow that's a big burger" comment or something of that effect may be okay, but grilling someone (no pun intended) about their diet and physical activity is not, in my opinion. I understand that as much as our culture promotes an unhealthy lifestyle which can lead to obesity (and of which about one-third of us are), we also stereotype and ridicule overweight and obese people as stupid, lazy, etc. I'm not trying to imply that I suffer more. I'm also not trying to imply that I'm perfect; God knows I've put my foot into my mouth many times. It angered me to feel that I cannot win; if I'm overweight, I am ridiculed. If I'm thin with little to no effort, I become the subject of resentment and passive-aggressive behavior (funnily enough, both of these individuals seemed to be a healthy weight). We live in a society where only one type of beauty is idolized, and it's a shame. I'm pretty damn sure there are overweight people out there who are more physically fit and diet-conscious than I am. Although I may be able to brag about a slender figure and a face which is deemed pretty, I have my own set of problems.

I'm not really sure how to end this. I try not to hold onto any ill-will towards the aforementioned individuals. The guy was at least half-drunk, and the girl may very well have thought she was complimenting me. I'm trying to let it go, but I thought it might be helpful to get my feelings out in the open. Chances are I'm overreacting, and I understand that. I don't know the struggles of those who embarrassed me. These types of comments come once in a blue moon. Yet as I walked into my apartment that night, the song "Unpretty" by TLC came to mind.

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I really can't believe those people. I'm sure, as you suspect, that one or more of then probably really didn't realize just how awful what they were saying was... but that's really a problem.

    I feel like, in this country, we have as much a problem w/ fat phobia and hatred and we do with thin phobia and hatred.

    Interestingly, just before I read this post, I was reading this other post that basically hits exactly this topic right on.

    I would say that, in the future you should try not to let the comments bother you. But think you shouldn't be afraid to be honest also. Say "Hey. Look, yes I'm skinny, and that's both because I work hard for it, and because that's my body type. I eat mostly well, but I don't mind indulging occasionally, and I don't really appreciate you making me feel judged for my indulgences when I see you indulging all the time too."