I work with all women. Literally not one male in the building. Our ages range from 24-63 someone is always on their period or going through menopause.
Our break room is filled with excessive doughnuts with encouraging notes written on top of the box or “Happy Monday”, which are two words that never belong together. Next to those doughnuts are magazines telling us how we can get our bodies “bikini ready”. With a doughnut in hand, coating the covers with sticky frosting from my fingertips I slide the magazines to the other side of the table. Because reading about fitness while ingesting what is essentially a ring of lard is about as productive as frequenting a flask at an AA meeting.
“I ordered my new bikini last night, but then I weighed myself this morning and I’ve gained 3 pounds so I won’t be wearing that. I seriously want to cry.”
This complaint comes from the mouth of a 25 year old weighing all of 125 pounds. I know she’s waiting for me to respond, to tell her she’s not fat or I wish I had her body, to take the bait as she fishes for compliments, but I say nothing. It’s not out of jealousy or to spite someone that is the weight I significantly lied about on my driver’s license when I was 16.
It’s because a part of me is hoping that maybe she’ll take in her surroundings and see that she’s talking to someone that would sooner order a bikini for her pugs than she would for herself. If the ignorance was limited to one person, it might not rub me in the same uncomfortable way my inner thighs do on a hot day.
Throughout the day it’s “I feel so fat” and I often wonder what would happen if I (an actual overweight person) said the same stuff at the same frequency that they do. Complaining about the bikini I can’t wear as though I was considering it anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are people with genuine disorders that see their bodies in an inaccurate way, but the other people, the people that just want to hear about how good looking they are just as a reminder, those are the people that need to take a moment away from the scale and mirror and look around before they speak, to stop throwing the word “fat” around like it doesn’t sting, like it’s not shaping the way young girls see themselves and young boys rate them, because I never knew I was fat until someone else told me.
I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m a work in progress, making healthy changes daily, but it would be nice to hear women appreciating their bodies so we don’t continue to perpetuate the stereotype that we hate ourselves. I’m not in love with every stretch mark or patch of cellulite, but I am in love with the fact that I’m not searching for the praise of others, a scripted reassurance so that just for a moment I could know what it’s like to buy into the bullshit.