I travel a lot. I get stared at a lot because I am tall, and, oh yeah, fat. I’ve been stared at in a variety of foreign countries on several different continents.
Once, in Vietnam, I attracted an entire class of high school students who lined up to have their photos taken with me one at a time.
In Cambodia, a roadside food vendor refused to take my money in exchange for food — which is, unless I am very much mistaken, the very raison d’etre of the roadside food vendor — because why does someone this fat need food? In southern Italy, people I pass during an evening’s passeggiata give me a disapproving once-over. When I approach a gate at the airport, I know that a goodly number of my fellow passengers are silently hoping not to be the one who sits next to me.
In all the cities I’ve visited, in all the countries on those many continents, New York City is the only one in which people call to me from across the street, approach me in restaurants, or yell at me from moving taxis to draw attention to and clarify how hilarious and offensive my fatness is.
Upsetting encounters in other places, where I’m already feeling like a fish out of water, are one thing. Upsetting encounters where
(1) I am in a place which should feel like my comfortable home turf, and
(2) The other party’s goal is to shame me while drawing as much attention to me as possible, so that others who might have accidentally failed to actively shame me can be implicated
are even more so.
I feel the urge to make some claim here about weight-loss efforts I may or may not be making, to prove that I am not one of the “bad” fat people: fuck that shit. I am a person. I am fat. The second does not negate the first, and the first does not require that I share your loathing of the second.
I will move around in the world regardless of your revulsion. Perhaps it is surprising to you, but I am actually aware of my size! And while I may be fat, you are an asshole. I’ll take fat any day.
But it still hurts, so thanks for that. Mission accomplished, I suppose.