Seriously. Don’t do this. Ever.
What follows is more or less a transcript of a conversation I had in my work break room this morning while I was trying to put together my morning cup of caffeine.
Me: Staring blankly into a very full refrigerator, trying to figure out where I left my little bottle of coffee creamer. A male co-worker came in (aged 50-something, generally a nice guy).
Him: Using the low, chastising tone of voice you use with your dog when you find them rooting through the kitchen trash, “get outta there.”
Me: Looking up in confusion, “excuse me?”
Him: “I said get outta there.”
Me: Further confused, “why am I not allowed to look in the fridge for my coffee creamer?”
Him: “Because that stuff is all junk.”
Me: Now angry, hurt, defensive, you name it… “well, when I desire an opinion on what I put in my body other than my own, I will be sure to come look for you.”
Him: “So in other words, shut up?”
Me: “Pretty much.”
Then, since I was hurt, angry, and defensive, I explained that my coffee creamer is fat and sugar free. Which I shouldn’t have, because it is in no way, shape or form anyone’s business other than my own what I am choosing for breakfast. He then food shamed me again because – chemicals.
He even said, “speaking as a diabetic; that artificial crap is worse for you than just eating sugar.”
Although I was feeling a strong desire to point out at that juncture that, although fat, I am not a diabetic (nor suffering from any weight-related complications) I simply took my coffee and left.
I wonder what he would have said if I hadn't identified that I was specifically looking in there for coffee creamer? His objection began when he came into the break room to find a fat girl peering into a fridge, so the fact that I was looking for food of any sort is what wasn't allowed. At my size I should be able to live comfortably off my fat stores for a few months, right? And according to him I need to do so until I stop shamefully taking up too much space.
Speaking as someone who does have an eating disorder, this kind of encounter can be incredibly harmful. Getting policed, shamed, and harassed for having the nerve to both be fat and eat in public is exactly why people retreat to eat in secret. And eating in secret is where binging occurs. I’ve struggled for years to find the courage to unapologetically eat in public – and when something like this happens it knocks me back down a peg like nobody’s business.
I reiterate, I know that intentions are good ones when this kind of conversation occurs. I know, and I don’t care.
Do. Not. Do. This. To. Anyone.
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