An Open Letter To A Guy Who Told Me I Was "Obviously Not Athletic" At A Wedding
My name is Lyz, although you may only remember me as Mike's girlfriend, because I anticipate that's the kind of man you are. The kind where the requisite female counterpart exists as a vapid, smiling collection of holes, rather than a person who may actually have more to add to a conversation than you.
You have no idea what I do for a living, what my favorite book is, where I grew up, or anything else. What you may or may not remember (because after multiple shots of Patron, you were pretty intoxicated), was sloppily leaning your body across mine to say that you “accepted me” as a quality partner for Mike, even though I was “obviously not athletic.”
When I asked you to clarify, thinking maybe I was mishearing, or misunderstanding, you told me that “athleticism” was a priority for you in a woman, but obviously not Mike, and that was okay with you. That you guess I could still sit at that table.
I tried to play it off by making fun of you (others joining in, obviously feeling the awkwardness), but your comments hit me hard and days later I still cannot shake the awful feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy.
I am mostly angry and disappointed at myself, because lately I had been feeling truly comfortable in my own skin, and, I guess, how dare I. How dare I attend a wedding that cost easily over $100,000, brimming with Louboutins and expensive champagne, and feel just fine for a moment. I should have prepared, by running a marathon maybe, or doing hours of yoga daily. I should have assigned days of the week with titles of various appendages like “Leg Day” or “Arm Day.” I just was kind of under the impression that I was fine.
Now, I am indeed very apologetic that you had to stare at my lumpy un-toned arms over the salad course, but I do hate that some overtanned businessman made a few offhanded comments at a wedding reception that I will most likely never forget. That you had the power to do that to me.
A wedding where both sets of vows harped on how “very good-looking” the other one was. Where there were eight bridesmaids, each more Pilates-trained and hair extensioned than the last. Funny how at none of those moments did I feel out of place. Not until you spoke. I actually felt pretty that night, so thank you for bringing me down to earth and reality. I wore a pink dress to a black tie event, and my boyfriend had just told me that, “You stand out, so everyone can see how beautiful you look.” I was still riding the high from that sweet comment.
There was no inkling in your brain that maybe this was the tip of a very large iceberg for me, although the word you chose, “athletic,” was an odd one. I never strove to be athletic, just thin.
It never occurred to you that maybe I have spent years and years striving for peace within my body, that through food issue after food issue and years of staring at myself with complete disgust in the bathtub that I, at least that night, felt pretty. That to this day, I have multiple calorie counting apps on my phone, that comparing myself to those thinner than me eats away at me, no pun intended. That not being accepted by assholes like you used to bother me, and I thought I was past it.
I hope at some point you realize that a woman's appearance (or anyone's, for that matter), is not for you to judge, and you certainly should not have decided that your comments should be spoken aloud. If this were the polite thing to do, I may have shared with you how quiet and bored-looking your date was, and how horrified she looked as the night progressed.
I hope I never have to see you again. I will go ahead with my day, filling it with things I love. I did swallow back tears, and danced for hours that night, which doesn’t make me athletic, just more fun than you. I will go to the gym, but only because I do go to the gym when I feel like it. I will order Seamless, and I will snuggle with my cat, I will write and read and laugh. I just kind of wanted to say, “Fuck you, this is all the energy I am giving to your words.” You’re the one who has to hang out with yourself every day.