Monday, April 30, 2012

The Invisible Woman

I was recently acquainted with a woman who enjoyed nothing more than talking about her ex and his many transgressions.  One of these stories involved him sending a clownish birthday greeting to a mutual co-worker of theirs.  It was not flirtatious, but it did show that he had put some thought and effort into it.  I wasn't really seeing the problem with this until she leaned over and said to me in a stage whisper, "Now she's a HEAVY woman!  What is that going to make her think?"  

As a heavy woman myself, I was confused and that must have been evident in my tone when I responded, "That he wanted her to - have a happy birthday?"

She rolled her eyes like I was the simplest, silliest excuse for a human she'd encountered in quite some time.  "She's a HEAVY woman.  She's not USED to that sort of attention.  He was leading her on."
Some of the most ridiculous logic I've ever heard expressed - and I used to teach pre-school, so I've heard some pretty convoluted logic.

And then I thought about a man in my own town.  Our paths cross a lot.  He works at the studio where both of my girls took lessons, so I saw him there twice a week for around three years.  It's a small studio.  I spoke casually with everyone else there, but never him.  He runs in the same park where I walk, so for a while there we were crossing paths almost every morning.  He never so much as nodded in recognition and when I did he would act like he was concentrating so intently on his run that he hadn't noticed me.  Recently Tom ran into him at a jam and he invited Tom to come hear him play at a local pub.  Tom and I went and he greeted Tom and thanked him for coming.  I was right at Tom's shoulder, yet managed to not even register as a blip on his radar.  What the hell, dude?  Later, he was headed towards our table, caught my eye, and did a 180.  

I remembered my acquaintance and her story and decided that maybe he thought if he acknowledged that a HEAVY woman existed in his limited little universe that she would interpret said acknowledgment as flirtatious and fall in LOVE with him.  A MAN!  Or maybe it wasn't an attempt to spare my tender feelings, but more of a self-preservation thing.  If he's seen talking to a HEAVY woman, people might think he LIKES heavy women.  And we sure as hell can't have THAT sort of business getting around.  After all, he has his reputation as a pathetic aging wannabe to protect.

(steps on soap box)

People are screwed up.  When self-righteous souls who don't have their facts straight declared a war on obesity, I guess some folks interpreted it as a war on the obese.  Fat people aren't the enemy, and shame on our First Lady for presenting us as such.  Sedentary lifestyles might be the enemy - but plenty of skinny people have sedentary lifestyles.  Poor eating habits and lack of portion control might be the enemy - but plenty of skinny people practice poor eating habits and lack of portion control.  Nope - spin it as you might this war is not being waged against unhealthy habits - it is being waged against a certain body type.  I'm tired of being shamed because I didn't win the metabolic lottery and it sickens me to see children shamed for it.

(steps down from soap box)
(clears throat)

This weekend, though, a young man in a bar gave me hope. A young man - a stranger to me - was walking out of the restroom hallway while I was walking into it.  We were the only ones in the hall.  Don't Stop Believin' was on the juke box and he spread his arms and sang right to me, "You're just a small town girl, living in a lonely worrrrrrld....." I smiled at him - he smiled back - and the encounter was over.  It was not flirtatious.  It was fun.  It was a fun thing to do.  And he had enough sense (or maybe was just drunk enough) to realize that even a HEAVY woman would interpret it as just that.  I didn't fall hopelessly in love with him.  No one accused him of being a chubby-chaser.  We just had a fun moment between strangers in a bar.

I didn't fall in love with him, no, but - even though I'll never see him again (and wouldn't be likely to recognize him if I did) - I sure do like him.

He gave me a moment to feel like a normal person.  Not the oldest one (a feeling I have to feel a LOT) not the fattest one (another pretty typical situation) - just - one.

When I was in college I took a course called Sociology of Human Sexuality.  No, the tests were not all oral.  No, I didn't get an A.  I got a C.  The only C my mother was ever proud of.  Anyway.  One day in class the professor presented us with a scenario:  If an attractive member of the opposite sex who was close to your own age approached you in a bar and said, "I'm not coming on to you or anything, but I just want you to know that I find you very sexually attractive." how would you react?  Of course most of us said we'd react pretty positively to that.  Duh.  But then he started switching things up.  What if it were someone much older?  Someone much younger?  A member of the same sex?  Someone who was unattractive?  It's still not a come-on, and yet most of us didn't have the same reaction - at least not at first.

Isn't that sad?

The woman in my first story and the man in my second story could learn a lot from the man in my third story.

But perhaps it's human nature.

Perhaps we all have a lot to learn.


Eva Gallant said...

I'm large, too, and I hear what you are saying. It is sad that people can be so cruel, ignorant, and insensitive.

Anonymous said...

When I realize I am an invisible, I make sure to be seen. Nobody has the right to define how you feel about yourself.. yet is happens all the time. Love this blog, love your beautiful self!

Anonymous said...

Now I just want to go kick that woman's ass...and that man!!! But I want to hug the 3rd guy!!! You, as always, are spot on up there on your soapbox!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I yiyi.... Sometimes people are friggin idiots, and I really hate when that happens.

Sadly I've seen it many time, and since I sometimes take a medication that can pack 30 pounds on me in 30 days, I've experienced it first hand, only the idiots don't even realize it's me they're blowing off.

Makes me what to slap them senseless.

Here's hoping there are more people like the 3rd guy.

xo jj

Carrie Lynne said...

you had me at I" I use to teach preschool.."