** I’ve been sitting on this post for far too long, hoping to somehow perfect is… but I need to learn that sometimes things will never be perfect, so take from this post what you will, and I hope everyone understands what I’m trying to say.**
There was an incident at Zumba a few weeks ago that made me feel exactly like I did the first time a stranger made a snide comment in public about my size, almost a decade ago. To be fair, I’m not completely sure the girl at Zumba was talking about me specifically, or if she was just making a generalized comment to her friend when I happened to walk by, but either way, I went into self-preservation mode.
I’ll finish that story in a minute, but first the bus.
I was on my way home from a college class at 5pm – rush hour. The bus was starting to get crowded as usual and I was making my way to the back of the bus to stand, since I knew it would be packed within a few stops. I did a quick seat check to see if there happened to be any seats open but all there was was a partial seat in the very back, a lady on one side, a man on the other. I knew I wouldn’t fit there (a child could barely fit there) so I just kept moving to stand at the farthest vertical pole to hang on for support (I refused to reach for the upper bar, lest my shirt lift too high and show my belly) but as my eyes swept over the seat again I heard someone yell “you won’t fit here!”.
I stopped in my tracks and looked around with everyone else to see who was yelling. Then I felt all eyes on me. I looked up again and met eyes with the woman sitting to the left of the tiny seat. I remember making a “say what?!” face then continued to move closer to stand at the pole, hoping to turn my back to her as soon as possible and forget she existed. “Don’t even think about it. You’re too big.”
Now I was turning red from embarrassment and managed to say “I wasn’t planning on it. I’m just gonna stand here.”
“Good. Because you’re too fat to fit in this seat.”
What the …
At this point I had several choices:
- Choose to ignore her as originally planned and hope everyone just minded their own business
- Flee from the embarrassment by getting off at the next stop and waiting for the next bus
- Say something rude back hoping to shut her up
- Sit my big-booty in the tiny seat to prove a point because she pissed me off
I am easily embarrassed, quiet, shy, and hate confrontation — what do you think I did??
Well apparently in a fight or flight situation, I smile sweetly at the nice man to the right of the tiny seat and as soon has he smiles back and makes enough room as possible, I sit my big-booty in the tiny seat to prove a point because she pissed me off.
The last I heard from her was an exasperated sigh as she made more room, then ignored me the entire rest of the bus ride.
Perhaps it wasn’t the most mature decision, but it sure made me feel better.
Fast forward to Zumba.
As I was entering the hallway from the stairs, two girls were walking towards me to go to the bathroom. One girl was telling the other how small the stalls were, at which point she glanced at me then said, “I don’t know how anyone bigger than me can even fit in them.” They giggled, then ran into the bathroom.
I was going to just wallow in my personal embarrassment when I noticed as class was starting, that those same two girls were standing right behind me – I flashed back to the bus – and suddenly all I could think was ‘bring it, bitches’ (sorry, Mom!).
I twisted, shook, shimmied, jumped, dipped, dropped and brought it harder than I ever had before. I gave 100 percent and when all was said and done, I realized that all I really accomplished was proving to myself that I hadn’t been giving 100 percent before this class. I thought I’d been giving it my all, but there were apparently still wells of strength and stamina inside me that I wasn’t using.
Perhaps it’s because I’m older and supposedly wiser and more mature now, but I’m glad I experienced what I did. Don’t get me wrong, part of me still hopes those girls were totally impressed with my dance skills, but in the end it doesn’t matter if they noticed or not. What matters is that I took something I perceived as a slap in the face, and used it to make myself better.
There will always be people we encounter in our lives who say mean, insensitive and cruel things. Words can and do hurt and it’s not okay to continue to let those people stay in our lives. Do stand up for yourself–but I also think we’ve all said something stupid and insensitive in passing at one point or another. It’s up to each of us to decide if it’s actually worth our time to ‘fight back’ or if it’s really just a matter of choosing to shake it off and move on.
I choose to move on.