When I was in middle school, I was a tough cookie. Had to be; prepubescent boys are pricks. And, me being who I am, wearing my personal brand of issues on my sleeve (or in my size, as it were), I must have made an easy target. After all, fat chicks don’t have feelings, right? Nah.
But middle school was a long time ago. And some of those carefully-constructed walls I built around my surprisingly tender little heart, left up unnoticed, I have been working slowly and diligently to remove. After all, keeping everyone out means keeping out the good as well as the bad.
However, the other night once again proved to me that while some people age, they do not necessarily “grow up”. Once again, I was put into the position of ignoring a slight or standing up for myself. And I, not being ashamed of who I am, chose the latter.
I am torn about this. I’m not sure if letting the remark that was made (unintended for my ears) slip by would have been the more adult response. After all, this is not someone who I know or whose opinion I value. I should be able to just let such things roll off my back. But that’s not something I have yet been able to master. Had I done nothing, I know the moment would have festered, rife with “should have dones” and “if onlys”.
In the end, my action (pulling the offender aside, letting him know – calmly, if not gently – that I had heard his remark and that if he felt the need to insult me again, I would damage his nether-regions) resulted in the best-possible outcome, I suppose. I gained an apology, which I accepted (along with a drink which I skillfully guilted him into purchasing). And, in the end, I think I can let this go.
What does still bother me is the fact that I should have to make this decision. That I should have to either apologize for who I am or confront those who degrade me to make them recant. It’s not fair.
The one thing that singles me out in a crowd, before people bother to hear me, is my weight. My food issues.
Well, honey, I hate to break this to you, but we ALL have them.
Ironically, I spent the hours before the aforementioned incident with a friend whose own weight struggles have been, in comparison, extremely mild. At her heaviest, she was the size of (and a bit smaller, even) than the average American woman. She worked hard to reduce that to her current size, and was upset at the gain of less than three pounds. The next morning, I met with another friend who is actively working to control an eating disorder – working hard to GAIN weight and feel good about it.
I understand these struggles, though they are not my own.
In this society, where food is abundant and where the survival instinct is squashed to all but nothing (as most of us do not – indeed, may not ever – live with the realities of constant life-and-death struggles), we turn our focus to trivial things. Aesthetics. We are surrounded by the constant marketing of both instant pleasures and of personal beauty. The last frontier that we face is the struggle of the urges for consumption and for rigorous self-denial.
Whereas in ancient civilizations, when food was scarce and labor was strenuous, fat was an indication of wealth and power. Today, the opposite extreme is true. It is the ability to deny the base instincts of ones appetite that reflect ones status.
Which puts me pretty far down in the social scale.
Which means that this will not be the last time that I am forced to choose between rising above or confronting those who judge me without merit.
And, in the end, I guess I choose to fight.