Monday, 30 June 2008

I shouldn't have to see that...

Damn, did I really last post almost three weeks ago? Slacker. Anyway, on with an actual post:

The truth is, I'm rarely verbally abused for the shape of my body. Most of the abuse I get is internal, which isn't any better, but is, at least, not publicly humiliating.

So this is an unusual experience for me. My husband and I were walking along a road at about 10.30 on Saturday night in the village where his parents live. A car drove past, and someone shouted something unintelligible out us out the window. He was angry, but I hadn't even understood what they said. The car came past again, and again shouted something I didn't quite make out. It wasn't until the third pass that I actually caught it: "I shouldn't have to see that..."

Do you get this? Someone – more than one someone – took the time to drive past us three times to tell us they shouldn't have to look at us.

Actually, I suppose they could've not wanted to look at us for other reasons, but I can't think of what they would be, since we're both okay looking people with no major deformities, we're white people so any local racist element wouldn't have been troubled by our presence, and we're clearly male and female so it wasn't a homophobic drive-by. And they probably wouldn't have shouted at a person with major deformities, because that would be cruel. But it's okay if the person you're shouting at is fat, because they deserve it. Of course.

I just can't get my head around it. My husband was furious, but I wasn't, and still am not, because it's just so incredibly...well, stupid. It's stupid to drive past someone three times when you're offended by the sight of them. If we're that visually offensive, go somewhere else.

But more than that, it's just such a fascinating idea – these passing idiots genuinely believe that their "right" not to see things which are not pleasing to them is more important than our right to exist. And more, there are somehow people on the earth who want me to believe that the pleasure of their eyes is more important than my entire existence.

Think about that for a moment.

They want me to hear words like "I shouldn't have to see that" and to feel shame because I do not please their eyes. As though their eyes should matter to me more than my existence.

Although I am a kind, creative, intelligent person, these shallow brutal fools wish me to believe that I am of less value than them because I do not please their eyes. It would never occur to me to shout insults at anyone from a car even once, let alone burning the fuel to do so three times, but I am supposed to be the one who feels shame.

They're unlucky, in this instance. I didn't walk away feeling shame, just pity for people who are so infinitesimally small of mind that they think this is clever and funny.

But it's worrying all the same. All this anti-obesity fuss that's going on is, at least in part, rooted in the same attitude as these idiots espouse – "I shouldn't have to see that". It's not that people particularly care about my health – if they did, they would care about the fact that my eating disorder of twenty one years standing is likely to only make me fatter if overemphasis is placed on my losing weight – or even my supposed overuse of resources (they don't, after all, go after skinny people who drive SUVs and eat three Big Macs for lunch, because, hey, they're thin!). It's because they think they shouldn't have to look at me. Because they find me ugly. And what kind of screwy measure is that for allowing people's existence?

Furthermore, they don't seem to realise that the way they're responding to finding me ugly is going to create a generation of people just like me, who can't control their eating because eating has become an act of defiance against those who wish for us not to exist because they don't want to see us.

Here's a news flash, folks: we don't stay pretty long. Longer than we used to, certainly, but sooner or later, all human beings, no matter how gorgeous they were to begin with (and let's face it, most of them weren't that pretty to begin with), will end up being, in life, a mass of creased skin, lumpy flesh, thinning hair and broken veins. All of us will become less than pleasing to the average eye. If prettiness is all humanity has to offer, then we should give up here and now – certainly, people like my drive-by shouting friends incline me to the belief that we might as well.

I'm currently fat. I may always be fat. I am getting older daily, and I will never go back to the peak of my looks (which I didn't appreciate while I had it). But my value isn't, has never been, just in what pleases other people visually. It can't be – there's no worth to any of us if that's all we are.

And even if that was all, it's clearly not a universal position - on my way home less than an hour ago, I had a man, a perfectly normal-looking and also non-fat man, cycle up alongside me, ask me the time, tell me I was very beautiful, and then cycle back to ask me out. And I, of course, had to wave my left hand at him and say "I'm married". So there are at least two people in the world who like to look at me, which I think probably means that the morons in the car are cancelled out.

Funnily enough, I'm not any more chuffed by the compliments of a random guy on a bike than I was upset by the random insults of assholes in cars. I mean, it's nicer than car insults, but it's not really about me. Some people find me visually pleasing, some don't. Neither of them really matter.

This is an oddly zen frame of mind for me when it comes to my appearance. Something to be explored further, I feel.

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