Walkby Shouting

I was walking in the park one day late last year (I walk every work day during my lunch break), and a stranger who was walking the other way asked me how much weight I had lost. I told him “I’m not trying to lose weight, and that’s not a proper question to ask people in the park.” He responded, “You look great; I remember when I first saw you.”

He was trying to be nice, I guess, but the question hit me the wrong way. As a fat man, I don’t get much criticism about my weight, and obviously, I didn’t get criticism this time either, other than the implied criticism of a past me. Still, my weight is my business, the same as with anyone else. Even before I had size acceptance, I wouldn’t initiate a conversation with a stranger by asking about his/her weight, even in the course of making a compliment.

He didn’t seem to grasp my objection, so I didn’t respond any further. I’m happy with how I responded, but it probably didn’t do any good.  He may not even have realized why I objected. To understand an observed event, we (adults, anyway) have to plug it into a known framework, and I don’t think he had a framework for what I said.

That’s why it is so important to proclaim and explain size acceptance in all media we can. Even if we don’t change anyone’s mind, we’re at least letting people know that there are such things as body self-acceptance, fat pride, and HAES. Then at least strangers will understand why we object to weight-loss-based compliments, even if they don’t agree.

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4 thoughts on “Walkby Shouting

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. I have had a few conversations about speaking up/advocating for yourself and this is exactly what I mean! It can be difficult to express yourself in the heat of the moment, but it sounds to me like you did just fine. He doesn’t have to understand the reason for your objection, it will no doubt stick in his mind for awhile and who knows? Perhaps you’ll bump into him again and he’ll ask. Either way it sounds like a great exchange.

    • Thanks for commenting, and thanks for the kind words. I’m not really looking to have another conversation with the guy. In fact, I think I’ve passed him again since then without a word, which is fine.

  2. This is tough for me because I don’t want to be snappy with people who are trying to pay me a compliment, but comments on how I am “better” when I am smaller are so triggering for me. I like what you said because people forget that other people’s bodies are not public property to be commented on- especially fat people and when it comes to weight loss/gain.

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