flyingpigapparel

Just another WordPress.com site

She said WHAT?!

I really struggled with how to share this story with all of you.  I knew that I would share this story, but how to write it has escaped me.  I tried writing while I was still angry, but I think that narrative is best left in the recycle bin on my computer screen.  I tried to make peace with it.  But that just made me angry again.  Maybe I’d better back up and give you a little background.

About a week and a half ago, I went to the grocery store before going to work.  I was working an evening shift, so this was late morning.  I had noticed a very irritating customer harassing the cashier (whose line had gone from 2 people to 8 people in less than 30 seconds… it happens).  The cashier caught my eye and directed me to another register since I was the next person in line that hadn’t unloaded their basket yet.  I got to the new register and sure enough, annoying customer (and by the way, she hadn’t been in line at all, just jumped ahead of about 6 other people who were waiting politely) gets in line behind me and tries to start up a conversation with me bashing the cashier.  Of course, she’s barking up the wrong tree with me… so I tell her firmly that she’s just being a jerk.  This was apparently license for this woman to verbally assault me for the next 3-5 minutes while we wait for the new cashier to arrive and ring up my purchase.  I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning these sorts of people out, and at one point I was actually chuckling that this person was still going on and on about how I have no right to even speak to her.  And since attacking my actions was getting her nowhere, she decided to go bigger.

She called me a fat pig, to my face, in front of the cashier and at least 4 other customers.

And continued insulting my size and appearance as I walked out the door.  At the door, I turned back, smiled, gave my best graceful parade wave, and said “You have a good day ma’am, and you just keep letting those prejudices show!”

As a society, we accept and protect diversity on so many levels.  The color of your skin, your mental and physical abilities, your sexual preferences, your religion… had someone insulted you publicly based on any of these traits, there would have been an immediate outcry.  The person making those comments would have been asked to leave the store.  An apology would have been issued, either by the person making the comments or by a representative of the store.  But the size of my body is fair game for nasty, hateful comments from a random stranger.

I know there are some that would argue that weight is a controllable trait and that because my weight is “my fault” that somehow it’s ok, or at least less bad, that someone has publicly humiliated me about it.  But think about that for a moment.  If someone was confined to a wheelchair because they made a choice to participate in a risky stunt, does that make it ok for anyone to insult or harass that person?  Or to come at it from another direction, if I were in the midst of a weight loss program, would it be less acceptable for someone to insult me?  And if that’s the case, then what about the many, many people out there who have medical conditions that cause weight gain, or have to take medications that cause weight gain?  Should they have to chose between their health and a life full of public bullying?

I think that bullying is the key here.  When someone is a bully, they don’t stop to ask a person’s circumstances before they begin insulting and intimidating them.  No one deserves to be bullied, whether they can change themselves or not.

~RR

P.S. I’m not going to address the debate regarding whether long term weight loss is possible.  I think we can, and should, be able to have a dialogue about weight discrimination without discussing weight loss.  Because for the foreseeable future, there are going to be fat people in our society, a lot of them, and I don’t see that changing.  I also don’t believe that the solution to weight discrimination is weight loss.  Because if all the fat people lost weight and got into the “normal” range, it would just narrow the range of weight… I still believe that there would be discrimination against people who were at the higher end of the range (I’m fully aware that underweight people experience stigma and discrimination as well, and I think we all benefit from ending discrimination and bullying based on size).

Advertisements

12 Comments

  1. What a disgusting person. I probably would not have done this, but what occurs to me now is that if I were in that position, I would like to see myself turn to her, listen politely for a few moments, then calmly say, “Ma’am, you probably wouldn’t have made any such comments about my skin color if I were black, or my handicap if I were in a wheelchair, or my sexuality if I were gay – at least you likely wouldn’t say them in public – so what makes you think it’s OK to say such ugly and vicious words about my body in other ways? I hope you have a good long think about the hatred in your heart that you’ve displayed here today.”

    Of course, in the moment I would probably not say anything like that, but maybe if I think about it in advance, if the moment arises, those thoughts might be closer to the surface. Good on you for ignoring the pitiful ravings of an obviously hurting woman.

    • I think your reply is wonderful. But the interesting thing is that when I posted about this on my own Facebook, and compared her comments to insulting a person in a wheelchair, there was quite an uproar amongst my friends for considering my weight a disability and thus worthy of protection. I finally managed to get them to understand that like losing mobility, obesity can be caused by many factors, some of which can be considered the individual’s “fault” and others that have nothing to do with our behaviors. Then there were the “Oh that’s horrible! as soon as we lose the weight we won’t have to worry about that anymore!” comments. It was almost more painful to wade through the comments on Facebook and educate my own friends than it was to have had the experience.

      So while I think your reply is amazing, I think we should all be aware that putting weight in the same class as other protected parts of who we are (like skin color, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation, etc.) is likely to make the argument worse rather than better for now. Quite a bit of education needs to go on, and with mainstream media shouting “omgobesitypanic!” from the rooftops, it’s an uphill battle.

      • Sarah

        It’s also not actually *true* that nobody can get away with insulting other people on the basis of their race, ethnicity, sexuality etc. It sounds like this woman was angry and belligerent and would have fixated on anything she could. I absolutely think people are worthy of legal protection from fat hatred, and it’s true that fat hatred is not legally considered hate speech in the way racist, homophobic, sexist and ableist comments are. But racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia (and so many other isms) are still alive and well, and it’s insulting to people who face those prejudices every day to imply that they have it easy because they’re not fat. We need to fight all the prejudices!

      • I’m sorry if I seemed to be saying that I believe that discrimination and hate speech don’t occur anymore. What I was trying to get across is that I believe that had the comments been regarding any of those protected traits, that there would have been a much different response from the store and other shoppers. I agree, we do need to fight all prejudices. A bully is a bully is a bully, no matter what aspect they’ve chosen to pick on.

  2. Ugh. What a loser, and what grace you displayed in handling it! I’m loving your business idea too, and can’t wait to see you succeed.

    • Thank you! We’re so excited at the support we’ve received so far. Here’s to great things to come!

  3. Rachel

    First, I think that woman was an anger junkie – meaning she loves getting angry and she loves making others angry. Second, most people are terrified of conflict, period – so, good for you for standing your ground initially with her and not being complicit in her bullying of the cashier. But that terror/cowardice is why people didn’t come to your defense when she started personally abusing you, which I am sure was hurtful. Trust me, I’ve been there. As a woman, a Jew, a lesbian, a Mom – I’ve been there. People will say (and do) outrageously hateful things to you and practically no one will come to your defense, which is why our history is strewn with genocide and carnage. So good for you for not being cowed and for standing up for yourself as well as others: most people cannot and will not. Third, body shame and fat is the third rail in our society – the do not touch, the OMG if you tell me that I’m “fat,” I will just have to crumple up and die from the shame up it.

    Once I consciously dealt with the fact that others would try to humiliate me with my fat, I felt so much more centered in situations that had the potential for conflict – not always mind you, but way more often. Example: some crazy woman went gunning down our crowded, urban street at literally sixty miles an hour but had to stop at the red light at the end of our block. I could see her rage swirling around her and her dirty TransAm a mile off, and I knew what she was going to spew, but I was still mad that this lunatic was ramming her car down my street where my four year old and our young neighbors live, walk, and cross the street. So I said: “Please don’t drive that fast on our block – we have kids who live here.” Crazy talk, right? Sure enough, her thoughtful response was to start screaming at me “You fat b–ch! You’re so ugly, and so fat, blah, blah, blah.” And I said, “Yeah I am fat, and you’re driving way too fast, and you have some serious anger problems lady.” Well, I truly thought the woman would have a coronary. She drove off cursing me, leaving me laughing because we both knew I had won, because I wasn’t ashamed of my truth and she was by hers.

    • Georgia

      To the second portion of your comment. It would be completely heart breaking to see a child get hurt because of some crazed, moron excuse of a woman. I find it amusing that unintelligent people, rather than coming up with a witty response they would prefer to insult one’s appearance.

      • What if we all started responding to these kinds of insults by saying “If you can’t be nice, at least be original!” Also, the way retail and food-service customers treat employees (not just fat people, anyone) is a hell unto it’s self. For every nice one, there’s one that should probably consider therapy. Or just staying home when they can’t behave themselves in public.
        ~RR

  4. Georgia

    I’m 15 years old and am about 20kg over weight. I work at KFC and the other night (at work), after kindly letting a trainee’s customer know that there would be a 5 minute wait on her food, she turned around started abusing me. I simply walked away and as I did so she called me a ‘fat bitch’ to my trainee. I couldnt believe it, a grown woman (whom, just quietly, wasn’t that wealthy in the looks department herself) would call a child fat. This disturbed me greatly and when I read your story I completely understood your anger. People are horrible and I love what youre trying to achieve with your project. Good luck, ladies.

  5. Thin person weighing in: It’s the same if you are thin. People feel the right to bash my body shape, but it’s in a different way. “Do you think you are someone just because you are thin?” or “you look like a skeleton!” “you need to eat more!” (the same as large people hear, “you need to eat less!”) Wow. Well, I have serious problems gaining weight, and my medication doesn’t make it easier. Some medication has the side effect of weight loss, and that’s not any better for a person that’s already thin! Then there are the people who say stuff like “I’d do anything to be as thin as you!” I know that’s kind of a compliment, but I have self esteem issues, and when they comment on my body, I get aware that they look at it and judge me for it. Not cool.

    K, rant over. I do not at all intend to bash anyone or their feelings about their body, I’m trying to get this point across: Body policing happens to thin people too. Some people just have to talk shit about others, so they feel better about themselves. If I was “normal” as far as weight is concerned, I bet they’d comment on my hair or whatever. (I have pretty normal hair, but still I have heard “women should have long hair, I feel disgusted by women with short hair!” wtf?)

    Keep on the awesome work with making clothes for large people! I tried shopping with an over weight friend, and I realised how incredibly hard it is for larger people to find anything besides “tents” to hide in. I could just go to the childrens section, but large people are confined to the clothes for large people. It is kind of ironic that work out clothes that fit is hard to come by for large people, since everyone tries to police fat people to exercise. Double standard, much?
    I will now go give my large friends the link to your site. Thanks again for this great initiative!

    (BTW, I found your page via a tumblr blog that posted one of your prototype pictures, and thought it looked great, and a fantastic idea too. It certainly intrigued me to check out your page. Sp thanks again! 🙂 )

    • Marianne,

      We love to hear from everyone. We (Rene, Barb & Bobby) have a friend who is VERY thin. She also struggles to keep weight on. Its not an eating disorder or anything along that line, she is just naturally thin.

      It is for reasons like this that we take the approach of health, not weight. I think it is far wiser for people to look towards being healthy, instead of “loosing weight”.

      I do agree that there are people who simply do not want to be happy and will make some of the most interesting comments. Yes, hurtful comments as well.

      Thank you for stopping by and helping us spread the word. We can be found here, at: http://www.facebook.com/whenpigsflyclothing or our Kickstarter Campaign at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1242166074/flying-pig-apparel-launch

      Bobby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: