A few years ago, while I walked through my hometown, a stranger stared, slack jawed, looking my body up and down, over and over again. “Excuse me,” she shouted. “Are you big enough yet? Is everyone else seeing how fat this bitch is? Look at her!” She began pointing at me, searching the faces of other passersby for affirmation. “How do you let that happen? Can you even hear me? I deserve an answer!”
No one responded.
It shook me to face such overt aggression. The simple act of walking down the street in a fat body had called up such rage and indignation in a perfect stranger. I was flustered, hurt and angry. And in a sea of people, I was entirely alone.
In those moments, hearing thin friends talk about body image or attitude or self-esteem amplifies all that isolation. It stings, because it feels like a fundamental misunderstanding of what’s just happened. It contorts responsibility, laying blame for others’ behavior at our feet. I‘m sorry you don’t have better self-esteem is not the same as you shouldn’t be treated terribly. It’s a vicious kind of gaslighting that blames the prey for its predator’s violence.
When skinny people don’t speak up.