A Mixed Bag Social Outing
This past weekend I went out for drinks with some of my husband’s coworkers. The night was going swimmingly with everyone making geeky jokes (some of which I actually got: hey, what do you get when you put Ironman and the Silver Surfer together? An alloy!), people laughing, drinking, and generally having a good time.
Eventually the conversation turned to fitness and I thought “uh oh.” But I spoke frankly about my love for fitness, my medical problems preventing me from doing any kind of fitness presently, and god how much I love that post workout burn. Two of the guys were runners and they smiled, nodded, and sympathized in a genuine way.
We spoke more about the birth of my son, how crappy doctors are, about other peoples’ kids… and then I turn to the other side of the table to hear a coworker talking about roller derby. Rock on, right? She had played roller derby and was talking about her love for the game when, we’ll call him Caden, pipes up and says, “I thought roller derby was for big, scary women?” complete with arm motions to signify that by big he meant fat.
My hackles went up immediately, but I didn’t say anything. Who the hell was he to say who roller derby was for or not? More so, what’s so scary about a woman being larger? Did he think of all fat women as trolls under a bridge waiting to eat him if he got too close? I should have said something, but I let it slide.
Then the topic of nudists came up — don’t ask me how — but it was lighthearted and funny. The roller derby co-worker had also been to a nudist resort a time or two. And me, I’d love to go to one. They’re generally very body positive places with all shapes, sizes, and ages. Caden opened his big mouth again, this time to inform us that there are some people you just don’t want to see naked.
My jaw dropped. I couldn’t help it. I said, “that’s horrible! You’re a very body-negative person.” Not harsh, not scathing, but I had to say something (and not enough to make it uncomfortable for my husband at work).
Here’s the sad thing: I like his other coworkers and enjoy going out with them, but this one guy made me uncomfortable enough to not want to go out with this group again.
I guess my point is that fat hate and body hate aren’t always these big, huge, obvious things. There are hundreds of small, subtle messages that seep in every day in places that you’d never expect it. People that make an environment hostile for fat people just by being there. Going out in public with strangers? Forget about it! You can’t even go out with a group of friends or coworkers without being made to feel the odd one out.
Now, my husband brought it up to him later at the office and he apologized profusely. But you just can’t take back what’s already said. The point isn’t how badly he felt about it (though that does count), it’s that he thought to say it to begin with. People don’t even realize they have these prejudices until it’s too late, but hopefully that’s a step in learning for next time.