FATCALLED! Why "What's Up, Big Girl?" Is a Horrifying Pick-Up Line

If you're going to street harass me, at least say nice things.

Aug 16, 2012 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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Oh catcall, you make me so sad.

Last week, when somebody told me my anal sex article was really great because it didn't annoy them like everything else I'd ever written, I remarked that there's nothing like a compliment that makes you feel bad. Turns out there's something worse: A catcall that makes you feel bad!

Not the one I got on the way to my therapy appointment today. As I hurried down the street in that blissful state of serenity enjoyed by a woman in one of the rare moments she forgets to wonder if something about her appearance is in some way offensive, this guy whizzed past me on a bike while simultaneously yelling, "What's up, big girl?"

This was a poor strategy on so many levels.

I used to get come-ons like this a lot in my heavier days -- some guy on the street would helpfully let me know how much he "likes big girls," or I'd give my phone number to a cute guy, but when he called he'd just ask me a bunch of weird questions about how much I weighed and what size I wore. Actual quote from one of these conversations: "I like a woman I can climb." Be right back, I'm just going to sweep up this pile of dust that used to be my dignity.

I've heard of this happening to other girls -- "You've got a big ass for a white girl," "Like them thunder thighs," and being serenaded by songs extolling the attributes of thickness are just a few true-life examples.

And look, I know that this guy was hitting on me, that his words were intended to be a (skeezy) compliment on my shape. (I also know it's possible he was referring to the fact that I am 5'10 and wearing heels.) I know there's a cultural disconnect here. But I refuse to believe that even a guy from a culture where size is valued doesn't have the cultural literacy to know that there is a large population of women who are not going to feel good about being called "big" or "thick" or complimented on their fat asses. 

Despite the fact that sexy fatties are my personal jam, any comment about the relative size of my body parts is always going to send me straight back to junior high and make me hate myself. Good thing I was on my way to therapy!

I mean, sure, street harassment may make me feel exposed, violated and fundamentally unsafe, but at least it usually makes me feel hot, too.  What I mean to say is, I don't want anybody to comment on my body, but since people are going to comment on my body, the least they can do is say nice things.

I shot this guy a WTF look when he turned around to smirk back at me, but he probably just took it for general disdain. I would like him to specifically know that I did not appreciate being called "big girl" and also that hitting on girls from bikes is dumb. Even if I had wanted to blow him, he would have been long gone before I got the chance.

Have you ever been "fatcalled"? How much do you hate that dumb word I just made up? I'm sure Jane does.