An Open Letter to the Guy Who Helpfully Announced “Daaaaamn Bitch, You Fat!” to Me in the Target Parking Lot this Morning

First of all, let me commend you: your powers of observation are astonishingly acute.
Publish date:
August 2, 2012
fat, harassment, hollering back, no apologies, M

Brazenly feeling OK about myself in public? WHAT was I THINKING.

What is the point? You know, every time this happens -- and it doesn’t happen that often anymore, for which I suppose I have both my progressive strides toward middle age and the OBESORAMA EPIDEMICAPALOOZA to thank -- the first thing that crosses my mind is, What is the point?

Are you trying to be helpful? Is it like kindly alerting a stranger that they’ve left their lights on before they head into a movie theater? “Hey, just thought I’d let you know that you’re quite large and if conventional wisdom is to be trusted you will probably die really soon. I assume you hadn’t noticed.”

Leaving one’s lights on is one thing; the car is behind you and you’re walking away from it. You might not realize your mistake. My body, on the other hand, goes everywhere with me. A person doesn’t get fat like me without being told about it at least once, if not by good Samaritans like yourself, then by parents, siblings, classmates, friends, neighbors, doctors, co-workers and/or romantic entanglements.

Even if no one told me, I would have picked up on it on my own, probably the first time I realized there were chairs in the world that just didn't have enough space between the arms for my ass to comfortably fit. This is something you can't just gloss over, dude. If your ass doesn't fit in a chair, you notice it.

And yet, it often seems as though people like you are forever laboring under the misapprehension that it’s possible to be very fat and leave the house at frequent intervals and simply not KNOW about it.

It’s not. It’s not possible. I ain’t a lady who is five, 10, 40 pounds off my appointed slot on the chart -- I am sometimes not even included on the scale. I KNOW ABOUT IT, ASSHOLE. Your friendly heads up does nothing so much as remind me that I can always get in trouble for going out in public with my head up in spite of my failure to meet your standards of what is physically acceptable.

Furthermore, what is it about parking lots? I feel like I get these keen observations about my size shouted across parking lots more often than anywhere else I go. Is it because they’re big wide-open spaces with few opportunities for me to escape or hide? Do you see me and think, “HEY, there’s a lady whose day I can try to ruin by scaring and/or upsetting her, and she probably can’t get away!” The only conceivable reason for taking this action was to try to make me feel like crap, which is a rotten reason to do anything.

I can understand your mistake in thinking your remark would get inside my head -- you’re probably accustomed to the idea that most women are gutted by being called fat. You couldn’t have known that the word itself is not an insult to me, that I wouldn’t respond by internalizing your gross misogynist bullshit and shutting down. You couldn’t have known that I would react in righteous anger, not at being called fat -- for I am, quite fat, and don’t consider it a problem -- but at your audacity in trying to drag down my self-esteem and my comfort level with being seen in public.

Unfortunately for you, my opinion of myself is not so easily swayed. Parking lots are not the fucking African savanna. You are not a lion, and I am not a limping zebra. If we’re on the fucking African savanna, you’re going to be a really dumb hyena, and I’m going to be a really pissed-off elephant. As you have since discovered, I'm not the one who'll be running away with my tail between my legs.

Finally: Why is it funny? Why is calling a fat lady fat so damn hilarious? I mean, I know why -- it’s because calling a fat lady fat in front of your bros in an extremely public area is meant to remind me of my place, and to put me back there.

It’s funny to knock people with an unwarranted sense of self-esteem down a peg, isn’t it? You probably think the only place I belong is wherever you can’t see me, ideally in the dark, behind closed doors. You need protection from having my big old fat self out there polluting your visual landscape, like I think I have a right to go anyplace I want, like I think I have a right to force people who find my body offensive to look at me. How you must suffer. Allow me to break out the world’s fattest violin.

It’s just too bad that I’m not sorry. It’s too bad that you don’t get to police me and my appearance, however much you may think you have that power. No, I won’t apologize, because I’m not the one with anything to be sorry for. No, I won’t go on a diet, because fuck diets. I get to live whether you approve of me, my life choices, my eating habits, my wardrobe, and the shape of my body, or not.

Also, I’ve decided you can have your testicles back. Because unlike you, I’m spending my energy these days in trying to be a kinder person.



Have a nice day! I mean that, sincerely!

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