One of our most commented posts ever is the “how do strangers treat you?” post linked in the sidebar. It’s been two years, and we keep getting responses that are so thoughtful and represent such a range of experience. I wanted to post some of the recent ones.
First, Becky is mocked in front of her children by a group of men. I think this has happened to all fat women at one time or another:
I just had the most horrible experience. I am 39 and very overweight. I took my children 15 and 11 out for a lovely night out on the town. As i was walking with them 4 gentleman (not) starting laughing and made crude comments out loud so my children and i could hear with regard to my weight. I am so humiliated not just for me but for my children. WHY do these ugly people think its ok to make fun of overweight people like we have no feelings. I know i am fat. My kids know i am fat. Why is it so funny and what do they get out of humilating me and my children?
Anita shares from the unique perspective of a swinger:
Somewhat on the topic of internet dating, my husband and I are swingers. We participate in some internet swinger sites. This is a lifestyle that is based on sexual attraction. We are both fairly large folks. We make that clear upfront, and in our photos. Some people are attracted, some are not. You develop a fairly thick skin as a swinger – you’re going to be turned down as often as not, regardless of your size.
One thing you learn in that lifestyle is that you have no idea why someone turns you down. No doubt sometimes it’s size, but it can just as easily be any number of other factors. Could be your height, your age, your hair color (or lack of hair), or the fact that you remind them of their Aunt Martha. There are a few fairly common rules of swinger etiquette, including: If you’re turning someone down, a simple “No thanks, we aren’t interested” is the way to do it – no need to say why; and if you are the one being turned down, you don’t ask why – it really doesn’t matter.
My point being, it’s easy to blame rudeness on your size – and sometimes, that IS why people are rude. But not every time, and in the big picture, why they are rude or treat you badly doesn’t really matter. You can’t change how people feel about you, but you can control how you react to them.
Confidence is important, as you live your life – but if someone is determined to be an asshole to you, confidence isn’t going to change that.
Sarah finds that women are meaner about her skinny body than men are:
I’ve always been a skinny girl, im really tall really skinny long skinny arms and chicken legs, i eat normally and all im just plain skinny and not ‘good’ skinny. i have found that im mostly ignored by men, i have had a few negative comments from men and i think i could count them on one hand i remember at a bar waiting to buy a drink an older man turned to me and pretty much yelled in my face “why dontt you f’n eat something your digusting guys dont find that attractive” before walking off, i was pretty shocked, another time was my brother in law telling me i should eat a burger, but normally guys go for the curvier girls but arnt mean about it, most of the negative attention i get is from women. I feel very uncomfortable in a room full of women, i dont like going out, i even stress before work about what other women are going to say about my weight. I think im a nice person im pretty shy and uncomfortable about the way i look around others but i get seriously mean comments from women very often. women are very cruel to each other. friends have told me before that when they first met me they assumed i was a bitch because im skinny.. weird. im tired so this comments probably crappy and incoherent but yes we women can be a mean bunch.
Leslie used to be thin, and notices the difference now that she isn’t:
My size was never a big deal to me, until I realized how big of deal it was to everyone else. This was the most important thing – my weight.
I have come to notice a stark difference in men. First, men that I am not even interested in assume that I am desperate and want to date them so they feel like they must make it clear to me they are not interested. Even married men do this. One married guy told me that he did not cheat, but would consider it if I lost 50 lbs.
Another single guy who I think is a real loser in life, looked me up and down and told me he divorced his wife because she got fat.
Yet another man told me that being fat wasn’t my problem, it was merely the first indication to a man that I did not want to be “pleasing.” Yes, he told me that if I wanted to be “pleasing to a man,” I would lose the weight. This would indicate that I was agreeable and compliant. He even admitted he would date a thin crack whore over a fat woman who was perfect in every other way.
Fat men have rejected me in the dating world for being fat. Recently, I was fixed up with a much older man, who was also fat. We had a great time, we laughed, had an interesting conversation, we seemed to have a lot in common, but he doesn’t want a fat chick for a girlfriend. Apparently, I have all the other qualities he’s looking for in the dating world. The friend who fixed me up did so because she thought he’s such a great guy and not shallow at all.
None of my good qualities really matter (I’ve been told this by men), because they don’t really care about what I do for living, whether I’m successful or smart as hell. For the most part, men want someone to fuck and someone who is going to enhance their image.
I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but this has been my experience with men over 40. It doesn’t matter how confident I am, how well I am dressed, where I am or how I present myself, I am defined by my weight, and my value is greatly diminished by it. It isn’t even being invisible, it’s outright hostility.
There’s more from Leslie here, also well worth reading.
Alexa is judged mostly by her mother:
I’m petite, and since my teens I weighed 125 pounds, which is not actually overweight; but I wasn’t fit or curvy, so I didn’t carry it very well. My mother, who as long as I can remember has been quite overweight, never outright called me fat, but made it a point to ‘let me know’ what a shame it was that I was too heavy and thus not pretty/attractive enough any time my appearance was mentioned.
After a decade of this, I lost 15 pounds due to a pretty debilitating back problem that required surgery to treat, and in the year and a half since then every time I see her I’ve been hearing nothing but non-stop comments about how incredibly thin I am now and how wonderful it is. All of a sudden she has nothing but praise for me and thinks I’m the perfect daughter.
At first I was bothered, but after awhile I became outright disturbed every time she mentioned my weight. It’s like I never had any other value to her except for my perceived physical attractiveness according to her standards of beauty, and my finally being ‘thin’ now is so significant that it’s the only thing worth noting about me. This continues even after I’ve explained to her that, no, I didn’t go on any magical diet; I spent weeks being in excruciating pain every time I moved and therefore not being able to get up from the floor to eat enough to keep my body weight.
This week I saw her again, and she finally just said straight out that I used to be fat; clearly meaning that that’s a terrible thing to be, and what a relief it must be for me not to look so awful anymore. Yes mom, thanks so much for making it absolutely clear what you’ve really thought about me all these years.
Even besides the issue of how skewed someone’s perception has to be to consider that weight fat, there are no words to describe how offensive I think it is to say that a woman weighing 125 pounds = ugly = awful.
There are a lot more of thought-provoking posts in the comments. Thanks to everyone for continuing to share your experiences!
Posted by mo pie