The following is journal entry that I am choosing to share. It was inspired by an event that happened this morning and documents one of the effects of my disordered eating.
I’m not asking for advice. I just process well in writing, and thought I’d share in hopes that this kind of vulnerability will resonate with and help someone.
All I ask is that if you’re gonna comment, don’t be a jerk. Thanks.
Content Warning (CW): Disordered Eating, Fat
We talked about it at the table, but as we walked around looking at the food carts it became clear that I would be the only one to order food. I suspect this doesn’t mean much for some, but for me this is the thing nightmares are made out of. As a fat woman, there are rules to eating in public. They are foisted upon us in adolescence, absorbed from our parents, role models and media, and performed in an effort to avoid conflict. I read recently that 80% of ten year olds are literally terrified of being fat. Like they’d rather lose a parent than be fat. If that’s not fucked up, I don’t know what is.
These are lessons I have learned by eating while fat in public: Eat with a buddy who won’t draw attention to your food decisions. Let them order first. Order in proportion to what they order. Eat like you’re diffusing a bomb. Don’t make eye contact with people at other tables. Don’t order dessert.
When you are fat, people literally want to tell you ALL THE TIME what you can do to not be fat¹. People will have advice on what to eat and drink. They will preach diets and exercise and surgery. These tips will be doled out by your loved ones, friends and coworkers. Sometimes they will be offered by strangers in bus stops or food courts or grocery stores. They are given under the guise of concern about your physical and mental health. But no one really asks how you’re doing, or if you’re happy, or if you have any interests outside of food.
So when it comes to eating in public, I am very aware that there are eyes on me. And if I am the only one eating at a table, I am giving strangers permission to compare me to my friends. You might think I am being paranoid, but then you probably haven’t had a stranger walk up to you in a restaurant and compliment you for eating a salad, like you just ran a goddamn marathon. People will talk to you like they know what you eat by the shape of you arms and thighs and belly. Like they know anything about you at all. Like they are the first person to tell you this important news and as such should be treated like some sort of hero. So maybe I am paranoid, but it doesn’t mean they’re not looking.
So when I realized that I was hungry but would be ordering alone, the floor dropped out, and my eyes welled up, and my appetite left. We walked to the car, and when we got to it, he opened the door for me.This act of consideration erased the invisibility that I so desperately craved at that moment, and I snapped. I needed to go home. I needed to write.
Today I have sat with this feeling. I have cried with it, explored it, and attempted to deconstruct it. And I have realized something – all of these eyes on me aren’t on me at all. The need to remark doesn’t expose me or out me as fat anymore than my body does. I can’t stop peoples judgements of me or of fat. All I can do is forgive and offer people permission to change. To acknowledge their fat phobia. To accept themselves and eschew this fear. I have deduced that these people need the love that the Fat Acceptance community has to offer. The entrance fee is their ego.
I am really proud of this lesson I received today, even if it didn’t result in seasoned waffle fries.
¹It occurs to me in re-reading my writing that it’s probably not just fat people that receive this talk, but EVERYONE, which is all the more reason to address it. I mean, seriously, just look at other bodies for like a minute. 95% of the population isn’t “magazine hot”. So why are we being so ridiculous. I honestly think my fat is kinda pretty. It makes me feel feminine. It’s not out to get you. It’s not like a killer clown, waiting to kill you in the night. It’s just my body…