One of the things that happens when you are fat in a fatphobic society is that people who are under the mistaken impression that their beeswax is located on our bodies, plates, shopping carts etc., make inappropriate comments about our bodies, food choices, shopping carts etc.
One of the options that I often suggest to counter this is replying with a personal inquiry of your own. For example, if someone says “Do you really need to eat two of those?” I might respond with “How are your bowel movements?” and when they look at me surprised I say “I’m sorry, I thought we were asking each other inappropriate personal questions.” Today one of my readers (who asked to remain anonymous but gave permission to share her story) wrote me to say that she used the technique successfully:
I was just at my local grocery store, buying groceries and the cashier spent a lot of time looking at my items, ringing them up, rolling her eyes, and then announced rather loudly. “What … umm… interesting food choices you seem to be making today.” (I am not telling you what I was buying, because what I am buying shouldn’t matter to anyone who isn’t paying for it, right?) I didn’t miss a beat and replied “I think you’d do better with a little less eyeliner.” She looked shocked and I smiled and replied, “I’m sorry, I though we were exchanging inappropriate personal comments.”
So awesome, I tip my hat to you reader!
There are a couple of things to remember about this technique. First I try to pick something that people are going to think is too personal, but I am careful not to engage in body shaming – I think it important not to do to someone else exactly what I don’t want done to me. Also, I’m prepared for them to answer – if they say “My poop is great, thanks for asking!” I say “Thanks for sharing that with me, it’s good to know that your bowel movements are an ok topic of conversation for us. My food choices are not, please respect that.”
Obviously it’s not right for every situation, but I think it’s a good tool for my “Dealing with Fatphobic Bullshit” toolbox. Have your own examples? Leave them in the comments!
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