Limit #9: fat people shouldn’t eat in public.
But if I don’t eat in public how can people judge what I’m eating? How can people shame me into realising the error of my ways so I can suddenly get skinny? I know society looooves a good bit of judging and shaming.
I am one of the lucky ones, in that nobody has ever straight-out told me not to eat in public. I know there are people out there who have been told in many and various unpleasant ways, and I wish I could hug them all.
But I have definitely been on dates and felt a sinking sensation when they suggested going for a meal after the movie. I have hidden in corners, booths, and bathrooms to eat without being seen. I’ve even closed the blinds in my ground-floor flat before, just in case someone walked past and saw me putting food in my mouth. The horror.
I have never been told, but somehow I just know. Today I encountered a perfect illustration of how this came about:
This morning I was eating a slice of cake at my desk and my manager went “oh, Hannah.” in a terribly disappointed voice while looking pointedly at the cake. “What’s the occasion?”. Because I’m fat so I must be trying to squeeze my body into society’s one, tiny definition of an acceptable body, so there must be some ‘occasion’ to provide mitigating circumstances that allow cake eatage.
This afternoon my manager did an online shop, listing out loud the cakes, muffins and biscuits she would buy. Another skinny woman was leaning over her shoulder making suggestions for other cakes that she might like more.
I’m fat so cake=ALLOFTHEJUDGING. They are thin so cake=just another thing that people eat sometimes.
This happens all too often. I’ve sat down with food and had someone at the table ask sarcastically if I’ve got enough, or just yell “how much??”. I’ve been having my afternoon snack and had someone ask “are you still eating?”. I take my lunch from the microwave at work and someone invariably comments “ooh that looks healthy!”. It might be less insulting if they didn’t sound so surprised but I can’t tell, because they always do.
And even typing this I have to keep fighting the urge to justify myself.
I was eating cake because…
But I always have a healthy lunch…
I don’t just eat chocolate and crisps…
But I don’t need to justify myself. That would be me falling into the Good Fatty/Bad Fatty trap (which I first heard of on an AMAZING blog – Dances With Fat). My fatness is not made okay by the fact that I only eat cake sometimes, and that my lunch box is usually full of fresh homemade food. Because my fatness does not need to be made okay.
I am enough no matter what/when/how much/how often I eat.
So back to eating in public. Or anywhere for that matter. Nobody ever has any right to tell me where I can or can’t eat, ever. Y’know unless I decide to have a picnic using the shroud of Turin for a blanket. Then go ahead.
I eat wherever the heck and whenever the heck I want, and if people want to comment on it they can expect me (since starting this blog) to answer back.
When my manager asked what the occasion was for cake, I said “I don’t need an occasion, I can eat cake whenever I want.”, and felt very proud because just a few months ago her comment would have had me crying in the bathroom and the cake in the bin.
Last month when someone shouted, “how much??” I asked what made them think my food was up for discussion. They had no answer, and left me alone to eat in peace.
This is the dinner club:
We eat in public every Wednesday after salsa class. I’ll admit the first few times I went I felt hideously self-conscious and assumed all those skinny people were judging my burger and sweet potato fries. Yes, I still remember what I ate – those fries were GORGEOUS.
But now I don’t even think about it. That one time I ordered a starter as well as my usual main, and someone asked if I was pregnant, I just gave them the look and then carried on eating the amazing food.
I eat ice cream in public:
I also eat fro-yo in public, which might be my new favourite thing.
I refuse to ever be shamed by eating anything in a public place again. I have as much right as anyone else to exist and to eat, and to be happy and unharassed while doing so.