It’s so messed up that we live in a world where people think it’s OK to comment on what we choose to eat. (Are you sure you want another slice of cake?) Rebecca Jane Stokes, an editor at Your Tango, experienced this firsthand while traveling home on the train with a bag of Insomnia Cookies (um, yum!).
Another rider approached her and said, “You’re so lucky, just eating whatever you want and not caring. I’m a dancer so I can’t do that.” Did this woman think she was giving Stokes a compliment? Did she expect Stokes to saying something like: ‘Yes, it’s so freeing just letting yourself go’?
The comment caught Stokes off guard (who expects to get called out for walking around with cookies?), but then her thoughts started swirling. She perfectly nails all of the things you want to say to someone who body shames you in public in an essay she wrote recounting the incident. Here’s an excerpt:
Do I tell her that I first knew I was fat when I was 7?
Do I tell her I saw my first nutritionist, started counting calories, and working out at the gym when I was 12?
Do I tell her that even on my good days I don’t look in the mirror and automatically like what I see there?
Do I tell her that every day is a battle to love myself?
Do I tell her that I’m still half convinced the last guy I dated didn’t want me in the end because I was too fat?
Do I tell her that the fact I am on a subway carrying a box of cookies is one of the bravest things I’ve ever done?
Do I tell her that she has just made one of my biggest nightmares come true?
Do I get snotty and say I can tell that she doesn’t eat much because of her wrinkled skin?
I am professionally glib. I’m a writer. I’m witty all day, or at least, I try to be. But it was after 10 and I was hot and tired.
So instead I just said “f*ck you” and left it at that.
Then, I shared this story on Facebook. I was touched but not surprised when so many of my friends reached out to express their indignation. I almost didn’t share the story at all, because I didn’t want to appear like I was fishing for what people view as compliments. “You aren’t fat, no!”
I wasn’t looking for false reassurance, I was looking for a place to share my anger.