We’re getting a bad rap.
True story: I was on the subway last week with a large purse, fabric grocery bag slung over my shoulder, with a regular paper bag in hand. The train car was relatively crowded, but there was a middle seat available between two people. I didn’t want to crowd them with my bags so I remained standing.
A man entered the train and smiled at me asking if I wanted the middle seat. “No, thanks, I don’t think I’ll fit.” I replied.
“Oh, don’t start with that,” he said as he sat down and shook his head in a somewhat flirtatious way that suggested he didn’t think I was fat, but he did think I was stupid for thinking that.
However, that’s not what I was thinking. I know I’m not overweight, I was talking about the bags that doubled my size that would have made the other passengers feel crowded. And, what makes that guy think he it’s o.k. for him to assume stuff about my body image? I’d also like to know why he thinks he has a right to smirk at me.
The truth is, the only thing this man knew about me was that I’m a woman. And, according to his experience the phrase “I don’t think I’ll fit,” related to my weight, not the most obvious and VISIBLE reason. He was literally blind to the reality of the situation because of his prejudice toward women.
As I said before, we’re getting a bad rap — and we’re the ones to blame. (Sorry, it’s not only the media and societal pressures, we perpetuate sexism too!) How many times have you said, “Does this make me look fat?” or, “I wish I could lose ten pounds,” or simply, “I’m fat,” as you stare in the mirror?
Our obsession with being thin has cultivated an image of women as people who think they are fat, even if they aren’t. This superficial concern that plagues all our minds also comes out in words that men hear and interpret as things women say and believe about themselves.
Now, I’m no psychology expert, but doesn’t positive reinforcement help with self-esteem and body image? Maybe if we all practiced saying nice things about ourselves instead of talking about how “fat” we are, we could trim these stereotypes and have the confidence to stand tall even with a load of groceries.
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