We all remember the golden rule right? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
A while back I was chatting with a casual acquaintance. She was a nice girl and we always had stuff to chit chat about.
This gal and I were out for coffee, chatting about life, and she very casually mentioned that she was so impressed with me. I was smart, funny, and nice she said, which was surprising because she had always thought that fat people were lazy, unmotivated, and not smart (feel free to take a moment to gather your jaw off the floor before continuing with the story…)
After laughing and telling me sorry, that she didn’t intent to offend me, she tried to reiterate the fact that she was pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise – she must have noticed the stunned look on my face because I could see that the wheels started turning to try to decide if she had in fact accidentally offended me.
The comment and subsequent floundering left me aghast and lacking the wherewithal to know how to respond. At the time, self-love or even acceptance wasn’t really a thing that anybody talked about, body positivity wasn’t really a thing, skinny/fat was what there was- at least that I knew of, so trying to respond was futile.
I’m happy to be able to change your mind about fat people, is what I told her, and then I left- she had to pay for my coffee.
The whole situation hurt me. I was ashamed of myself because of how I looked and felt that if one person thought that, probably lots of people think that. I let the ignorant comment of an idiot tear me down and keep me down for a long time- that’s a lot of power I let her have.
While this incident was bizarre and likely fairly uncommon, is the sentiment behind it uncommon? Why is it so easy for us to judge based solely on appearances, or actually, why do we even judge at all? Who are we to asses, presume, and assume?
It took me a long time after “the incident” to recover any sort of confidence, but since then I have learned a very important truth about myself – my value lies within, not a single iota of who I am, what I am capable of, or what I have to offer to others, comes from how I look, it is all inside. Barriers will be put in front of me because of how I look, but my ability to crash through and move past them is all internal.
It feels like a change is on the horizon and I hope and pray that is the case. But until then, if you are experiencing barriers because of how you look, break through those walls and share what you have to offer. If you are putting up barriers and making decisions about people based on how they look – stop it, and start the change.
In honour of @dotemagazine Issue 10, The Body Issue, launching 2019, I want to hear your stories. I want to hear how you have been judged, prejudiced, picked last, or been looked down on because of how you look. I want to hear your stories and share them in hopes of continuing the changing tide. Share your story, read the others, and comment to support those who have been made to feel shame because of how they look.
Photographed by @sarahvaughan