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A Mixed Bag Social Outing

July 24, 2012

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.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. fatology101 permalink
    July 24, 2012 9:53 am

    The good thing is now he is aware of what he says. Hopefully he will think twice about it. It is a beginning. One step at a time. Maybe next time he will be the one to point out how rude it is to talk like that.

    • July 30, 2012 11:55 am

      Yup. Heather, you’ve done an excellent job of being an activist in this instance. It’s just one person, but at least he’ll think twice before opening his big mouth again.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  2. Janet permalink
    July 24, 2012 10:10 am

    I don’t want to just say “me too”…because I think the running theme of this site is that everyone here has had similar and related experiences. I guess I just have a question. How does one deal with that? Not only in relation to the person who is displaying this behaviour, subtle or not, but in relation to others in the group? And what can I do to bring a more positive vibe back to a group where this exists? I have these same occurrences in my own family (my sister is obsessed with body image and being thin and how horrible it is to be fat, not unhealthy, just fat and my brother feels the same way though our mother was a bigger woman, hence my genetic connection to weight gain. I just don’t know how to deal with it, especially amongst people who are supposed to be inner circle of love and safety. I’m just so tired of keeping myself under wraps and sometimes having to bite my tongue. I just want to be the best me I can be and that includes being able to express how these situations affect me negatively. I hate having to hold back and keep myself under wraps just to please others. I don’t want to put myself down anymore just because I think it will keep me from criticism. I don’t even like funny sex talk amongst certain groups, mostly all groups, because there is always someone who looks at me with a smirk or makes a comment that is derogatory. I mean, I’m so tired of this. How can I deal with this?

  3. Duckie Graham permalink
    July 24, 2012 1:02 pm

    To consider an alternate perspective (and I must say I’m not willing to personally commit to it, just thinking in the open here)….Not everyone is amenable to nudism. Many people just prefer to see others in clothes and it has nothing to do with size, age, body type, gender, or any other factor. Maybe it just makes them nervous to see most or all people naked (could be religious, aesthetic, or other personal reasons). I also wonder whether he said “you” or “I”…would it make a difference if he said, “There are just some people I don’t want to see naked.” ….is it possible for someone to be uncomfortable with nudity and that be an okay thing to be? Anyone else have thoughts about this?

    • Fab@54 permalink
      July 24, 2012 2:20 pm

      Hi Duckie, yes, I think its OK to not want to see ‘some people’ naked… and admit it. There could be a whole slew of reasons nakedness makes some people uncomfortable and I think you hit on several of them; upbringing, religious background, prior (negative) experiences such as molestation or worse, etc. As mentioned elsewhere, I used to go to yearly pagan festivals and gatherings. Nakedness is optional at most of them. Not a big deal. Never bothered me to see other naked people, the vast majority of them strangers, and a few of them friends.
      I even braved the naked-for-all-to-see co-ed outdoor showers at one festival 12+ yrs ago, and believe me, it was a difficult (but strangely liberating) experience for me.
      And I will never forget my shower neighbor right next to me, was an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, dark-haired, blue eyed, 6’2″ hunk-o-man just about (almost) my age at the time. WHOA.
      I hesitated for a moment when I stepped up onto the shower deck, trailing behind my three (female) friends smiling ear to ear, seeing now that the ONLY vacant shower head was right next to this guy…. But I smiled at him, looked him right in the eyes and said “Hey” as casually as I could possibly say it. He was delightful… he looked ME right in the eyes, smiled warmly, and chatted with me the entire time we were showering. My three single friends were quite impressed with my … hutzpah.
      Would I do the naked public shower thing now? I don’t think so.

      But anyway, there are still people I would not want to see naked… like family members – especially my dad or brothers… but I think that’s a matter of ‘dignity’ more than weight, body parts or aesthetic judgement.

  4. Janet permalink
    July 25, 2012 9:40 am

    I’m one of those people who prefers modesty to nudity, not just in myself but in others. Nothing wrong with it, but I don’t want to see everyone’s bits dangling about in public, not even someone I find attractive. For me, nudity is for private. Besides, I burn in the sun in about 10 minutes or less, and there isn’t enough sunscreen in the world to save me. *LOL*…but if you (the figurative “you”) want to be naked in groups for reasons other than sexual, more power to you. My only advice, use lots of sunscreen to guard against skin cancer or that leather look.

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