Hello all! Today’s post is going to be short and sweet because it’s my birthday and I said so. This week is fat stigma awareness week, and so I wanted to talk a bit about my own experience of fat stigma through the lens of something that happened to me this morning. I am well aware that I have internalized a lot of fatphobia and it’s something that I fight against as often as possible.
This morning while I was on the bus, someone who was overweight and using a walker got on. I noticed that I instantly questioned why she needed the walker: whether it was just because she was overweight, or did she have “actual” health problems. Particularly because she left it at her seat and went back to pay the bus driver, I was judgmental. I noticed this and told my brain to shut the fuck up because it was none of my damn business and I didn’t need to police anyone, but I knew that I was still judging her.
This woman was sitting next to me, and as the bus went around a corner her purse fell off the walker and onto the floor in front of me. I bent down to pick it up, and as I did her wallet fell out and some business cards spilled onto the floor. I apologized profusely and picked them up for her, and as I was doing so I noticed that one of them was for The Emily Program, the same place that I get my eating disorder treatment. Instantly any judgment I had for this woman was gone and all I wanted to do was hug her and punch her eating disorder in the face. I wondered what else her eating disorder had taken away from her besides her mobility and I wished I could help. It was amazing how having one thing in common with this woman suddenly humanized her. It was a major lesson for me. Despite how hard I had told myself to judge her not before, it was only once I had the tiniest glimmer of understanding that she struggled that I could have real empathy. And that’s a problem.
From now on, I’m going to imagine that every person I come across who is different from me has something written on a card that tells a bit of their story. I’m going to imagine seeing it fall to ground and imagine how it would change my perspective and give me sympathy for them. EVERYONE has those things. We need to learn how to see them.