Friday, September 16, 2011

To the Woman...

…On State St., near Lake, in Chicago, walking south on Saturday afternoon…

I saw you stare at my legs, with that disgusted look on your face. Thanks. I was having a lovely weekend, thinking of how happy I was that I was finally not fat in Chicago.

No one gave me a grossed out look. I didn’t notice anyone look at me and whisper. No one asked if they could help me (in stores) in a snobby tone that hinted at the fact that I had no business being in that store. No one glared at me when I bought cupcakes, or ate pizza. No one had to squeeze by me on the train.
That is until I saw YOU on Saturday afternoon.

Why is it that no one else (at least that I saw) looked at me like I was disgusting? Why…? Because I’m average; no longer a fat girl. It was the best I’ve felt about myself recently. To not stand out because I looked disgusting was something that you probably couldn’t understand. You with your skinny legs, and tall slender frame (minus the “Mom Pooch” — but I didn’t stare at it’s nastiness…because I’m not rude). I only stared at you (and your horrible old hag hair cut) AFTER I caught you staring at me.

Remember the brief moment we held eye contact, before you hurried and looked away? I do. I hope that you do too; I hope you’re embarrassed that I saw you staring at my legs in horror. I also hope you know that when my eyes narrowed and an icy look was shot your way, you know why.

My guess is that you did not look at the shirt I was wearing and know that it is from the girls’ section.
That’s right. I can wear (some) little girls shirts. I certainly don’t run around wearing things that are obviously for kids. A pink Cubs jersey? Not so obvious. Oh, and that Columbia fleece I got for just over 20 bucks? Not so obvious. I know I’m not a child and will not run around dressing like one, but if I see a deal and it’s not too childish, I’m gonna get it.

You probably did not see the rest of me. My pretty face? My nice hair (okay, after being in the rain not so much)? My beautiful eyes? My small waist? Oh, and what about my chest, where you can see my sternum? I mean, the jersey was open with a tank under it. If you were looking at me so intently, you should have seen the rest of me as well. I don’t think you did. At least not until I glared at you.

Would you like to know something about my awful thighs? There once was a time that they were filled with fat. Yes, I let that happen…I’m not asking for your sympathy because of what I was. Or your praise because I finally took responsibility and got healthy. I am fully aware that I should have taken that responsibility a long time ago. I’m just telling you that they’re floppy and have horrible looking ridges because I have extra skin.

Do you know how hard it is to get rid of extra skin? No? It’s nearly impossible. Sure SOME of it firms up but the reality is that not all of it does. Therefore, people like me; people who made the mistake of allowing themselves to get fat before getting healthy, sometimes have to deal with it.

I’m SO incredibly sorry that YOU had a problem with MY unsightly thighs in a pair of shorts. Yes, honey, that is sarcasm that you’re sensing.

Why, exactly, did you seem to have such a problem with my thighs? Was the wiggle hurting you? Guess what! The wiggle hurts me. It hurts me every time I look at it and I think of why I have it. It’s what I did to myself. Unfortunately there’s no one else to blame. It hurts me that I, apparently, did not love myself enough to be healthy. Every Time I have to look at my body from my knees to my neck, I remember. Have you ever hurt yourself in that way? Do you know what it’s like?

I don’t look at my skin and hate it just because it’s ugly (but it is, I know, and I do hate it for that reason). I look at it and know that it wouldn’t be there if it hadn’t been for me being unhealthy. The realization that you’re giving yourself the unwanted gift of a slow death isn’t something that’s light on the heart. My heart is heavy …. Every. Single. Time. I think of what I did.

I hope that you’ve never had to realize how much you didn’t love yourself. I hope that you don’t have to look at yourself and SEE it. It’s bad enough to think about it and for it to reside in your mind. The additional difficulty that seeing it every day isn’t so easy.

I’ve played that moment over and over in my mind. No matter how hard I try, there was nothing else that you could have been staring at. I tried. And tried. And tried. Unfortunately, when I draw an imaginary line between your line of sight and my thighs…. There are no other possibilities.

Yes, you bothered me. Your staring, your horrified look, and your embarrassment of me seeing you; bothered me. I know that people are constantly judging one another. I do it too… I’m just not obvious about it.

People like you used to really get to me. While I’m obviously bothered (wouldn’t have written this if not!) by it, it’s not getting me down. I didn’t go on an eating binge. I didn’t put my pajamas on and stay in bed. I didn’t cry. I did get annoyed and angry with you. Then I realized, maybe you’re just one of those people who is completely ignorant when it comes to your own behavior. Maybe the conversation with your friend was so boring, that my thighs were more interesting. I kinda feel sorry for you… I hope that you can find some kind of self-awareness in your life. You didn’t look very happy. Maybe then you’ll be happier. Maybe then you’ll surround yourself with people who are not so incredibly boring that a stranger’s thighs catch your eye so much that you literally stare.

SO. Lady… Next time you decide that you’re going to look at someone in disgust… PLEASE be aware of your facial expression. Don’t stare. Basically? Don’t do things that will make it obvious what you’re staring and totally grossed out.

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