Something I (Seriously) Don’t Have Any More Time For

Worrying about whether or not people are making fun of me behind my back and I just don’t hear them.

“Pictures of People Who Mock Me” is provocative. It’s a much-read article from Salon.com, a daring idea for a series of photos, and it stuck in my imagination, so I would say it met at least some of the author’s/photographer’s goals. It bothered me, though, in two ways I’m not sure she intended.

My first GENIUS and BRILLIANT and INCREDIBLY WISE response was to think, “OH MY GOD. People probably make fun of me for being fat and I just don’t notice because I am a.)oblivious and b.)not just fat but also hard of hearing.”

That surely wasn’t the intent. That first response didn’t last very long. I just don’t have time to wonder, at least not for very long, if anyone’s response to me has anything to do with how much I weigh.

It occurs to me, of course. Today in the pool, I got there early enough to snag the lane I wanted. Another woman got there just a little later. Typically, people waiting on a lane sit on a bench by the pool. She sat on the side, straddling a lane marker, kicking her legs gently. She wasn’t right next to me, but close by. It occurred to me she might be trying to get those of us in the pool to hurry it up. It occurred to me she might look at me and think she deserved the lane more than me because she was in better shape. It then occurred to me that maybe she just wanted to make sure she was first in line because she really, really wanted to get her laps in. Whatever she was doing probably had absolutely nothing to do with my size, my fitness level, with me at all.

But I swam one more lap than I had planned just to make sure I wasn’t ceding my place in the pool out of insecurity on my part. (And on the off chance she was trying to be intimidating.)

Second, I’m doing lots and lots of difficult, ongoing, hard work in my own head about shame. Did I mention it’s difficult? Everything Brene Brown ever wrote helps me. The people who did indeed mock Haley Morris-Cafeiro were wrong to do it. Mean to do it. If they saw themselves as shaming her in order to motivate her, they were mean and wrong and totally not up on the research that shows shame is not a good motivator for change (cf: everything Brene Brown ever wrote).

But since shame makes everything worse, not better, it made me uncomfortable to watch the photographer shame the shamers.

And then also, I had a whole train of thought about weight and body image and how we stake our place on the planet:

Engine of this train thought: it’s all about attitude. If you believe you’re beautiful and if you’re confident, you pull yourself past anyone who is making fun of you IF they bother to make fun of the Big-Ass Engine Who Could.

Coal car for the Big-Ass Engine Who Could: it’s all about energy. If you’re busy and you got places to go and things to do, people will have a hard time catching up to you to make faces behind your back. And you really don’t have time to spend on people who can’t be bothered to criticize you to your face. Probably don’t have time for people who CAN be bothered to make fun of you to your face.

Freight Car for the Big-Ass Engine Who Could: people who walk around mocking others have a bigger problem that whomever they are mocking. We all have issues. Baggage. Freight. Mocking others is one really ineffective way to deal with our own stuff.

Caboose: Beyonce.

Queen Latifah. Adele. I mean, seriously. It’s not about the pounds.

I know fat-shaming is real. I know it’s a problem. I also know someone who wants to shame has only one part of the equation. If I refuse to be shamed, all the fat-shaming in the world will fall flat. (Not that I’m resilient enough to resist all of it, in all the world. But don’t try to get me out the pool before I’m ready.)

I’m larger than I’d like to be. I’m working on it. I’m not sure reading/looking at “Pictures of People Who Mock Me” helped me, but it’s not her job to help me. It’s mine, and I’m doing it, and in regard to this article, I’ve done it.

And now I’m done.

Besides. Why would I spend any more moments at all on any of the above when I could be hanging out with our new kitten?

Vanessa Quivertail

Vanessa Quivertail

4 responses to “Something I (Seriously) Don’t Have Any More Time For

  1. I haven’t seen the article of which you write, but I can guess. Shame and guilt are useless but powerful nonetheless.

    Keep on keepin’ on. You’re an inspiration (to me, and no doubt countless others).

  2. Wish I could hug you from here! I could write a PhD disseration just on body image issues and the struggle I have had with anorexia and other issues my entire life. I have finally gotten to the point where I could care less about what people say behind my back or to my face. With age comes wisdom. If somebody really knows me, they know the real me and not how some gossipy busybody believes. Besides, they don’t feed me, sleep with me or pay my bills, so their opinions are null and void. Shame and guilt are useless emotions that result in negativity. Life is WAY too short for either of these…BTW, Happy Mother’s Day!!!

  3. This is my favorite! “But I swam one more lap than I had planned just to make sure I wasn’t ceding my place in the pool out of insecurity on my part. (And on the off chance she was trying to be intimidating.)”–could be taken as passive-aggressive, but I prefer to see it as self-advocacy and self-esteem,
    And your new kitten makes me melt and the name is divine.

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