A couple weeks ago some random woman made a video about how much she wishes fat people would just stop being fat (because she loves them so much). It went viral. Really, REALLY viral. A lot of people did the internet version of a standing ovation, and a lot more people got really mad about it and basically ruined her life.
Personally, I didn't watch it. I was getting myself and my family ready to enjoy a spectacular week in Disneyland, to celebrate Fat Baby's 3rd birthday, to visit with my parents and my sister's family, to experience the wonder of Disney through the eyes of a child - MY child. But the video found its way to me indirectly, in the form of some people being exceptionally rude. I have literally gone years without people behaving like this around me. Then, undoubtedly in part because of this video, I had 6 (SIX!) incidents.
A week in Disneyland constitutes a LOT of walking. I'm a very fat Fat Girl - granted, I've lost almost 100lbs, but I'm still over 400. Walking is hard and is made even more difficult by my fibromyalgia (which has gotten worse as I've lost weight). No amount of pixie dust makes walking around in 100 degree heat and 60% humidity for 12 hours a day fun. So Fat Hubby and I rented a scooter, which we shared, one scooting while the other pushed the stroller, and then switching.
Mean Person Story #1 - The Soda Woman
In the basket of the scooter, we kept a HUGE insulated mug of ice water. GIGANTIC. It holds 100oz, people. We were already refilling that 3 or 4 times a day, can you even imagine if we had tried to use a smaller vessel? And that was just The Big One - we also had my insulated thermos, Fat Baby's various sippy cups, etc. - all filled with ice, or water, or both.
Fat Hubby and Fat Baby were on a ride, and I was resting in the shade, sitting on the scooter, my arms wrapped around that heavenly barrel of frosty wetness. A lady walking past stopped short, then made a beeline for me. She glared at my jug for a moment, before telling me curtly, "If you drank less soda, you wouldn't NEED a scooter!"
I blinked and slowly released the straw from my mouth. Honestly, I was surprised she was still standing there, waiting for a response. Generally, these kinds of 'helpful' bitches fling their barbed arrows of wisdom and flee immediately. But here she was.
"This is water," I said calmly. I was honestly too surprised at the randomness of the situation to really be angry yet. That took a few hours.
She bristled. "I'm sure you've drunk soda in your life!"
"You've never drunk soda?" I let the incredulity drip from my tone, as I eyed her own pudge.
"THAT'S NOT THE POINT!" She literally hissed at me.
I just tilted my head to one side. "Is it not?"
She turned on her heel. "I'm not the one in a SCOOTER!" She flung over her shoulder at me.
I guess she really, REALLY wanted one.
Mean People Story #2 - The Bellowing Man
I scoot conscientiously. It's not a road rally - there are kids everywhere, and they are never paying attention. I'm heavy, the scooter's heavy, and it would be really easy to accidentally hurt someone - badly. I take responsibility for that, and generally scoot at or very near the walking pace of those around me. A crazy idea, I know, but I tend to go with the flow.
In a particularly crowded area, where NO ONE was moving much, behind me I heard a frustrated sigh.
"The whole point of those people having scooters is so they can stay out of OUR way!"
I turned to try and identify the speaker; as is so often the case, they were unwilling to step up.
But I'm an amenable person; if others truly think I should use my scootability to stay clear and not gum up crowds, I'll do my best. When it finally opened up, I scooted out of the way and continued along at a faster pace - I was most assuredly NOT getting in people's way.
A few minutes later a woman huffed that, "People like her (meaning me) should really slow down!"
Oh-kaaaaaaaaay... So I go back to walking pace, my comfort zone.
A hundred steps down the road, a teenager way old enough to know better hissed, "OmiGOD, why won't she (me again) just GO!"
Because there isn't anywhere TO go, dickweed, unless you'd like me to Monster Truck that lady pushing her sleeing twins in their side-by-side stroller.
And so it went, on and on, I was either a hazard on a speeding geriatric blue bullet or a spluttering speed bump following them personally, like a super-annoying version of Eeyore's raincloud. I took it all in stride, I think, until The Bellowing Man.
It was a long, open, uncrowded stretch of pathway, 20-30 ft between small groups of grown folks. No small, exuberant children in sight. A downhill grade, and a fresh 'come on and freaking MOVE' comment on my mind, I opened the throttle. It was faster than I was comfortable with, I'll admit that, but it was not careless nor endangering in the least. As I swooped around one group and then gently rode between them and group dozens of feet from them, the father-like figure behind me bellowed - literally bellowed:
"BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT ANYBODY BUT HERSELF!!!" And I found that I had had enough.
I screeched to a stop as hard as I could. Scooters don't have brakes, but they make a really cool "Fuck you, I'm SUPER angry" sound if you throw them into reverse until you stop. As I backed up to turn and face him, I heard his wife mumble, "Oh my god, she's going to yell at you." And she blushed from her ears to her toes (btw, who the hell wears flipflops to a theme park?).
The Bellowing Man puffed out his chest and curled his hands into fists - he was ready for a fight. So I disarmed him.
"I apologize, Sir. I didn't mean to frighten you."
In spite of the heat, he blanched. "You didn't FRIGHTEN me!" I know I didn't, but saying I did threw you off your game, douche, and now you're worried about losing face in front of your family. Do THEY think a harmless, fat, GIRL scared you?
"I was only going that fast because several people have told me today that I'm going too slowly and getting in people's way." Calmly, with a little hint of helpless-waif chin wiggle.
"Well, you shouldn't have listened to them - you're a MENACE!" But his heart wasn't in it now; he looked like the bad guy, not the acerbic comedian he wanted to be with his first comment, nor the brave hero he thought he'd be by putting an angry bitch in her place.
"Thank you, Sir. I'll do my best to drive more slowly. I don't want to frighten anyone - this is a happy place!" And I scooted off, just a little faster than his walking pace.
"YOU DIDN'T FRIGHTEN ME!" He shouted at my back. But he knew he sounded like he was, even though he wasn't.
In a way, I should have thanked him - he finally liberated me from feeling obligated to go faster or slower than I deemed appropriate, since it was evident that there was no speed that would please everyone.
These stories remind me of the last time someone was whole-heartedly and profoundly rude.
Mean People Story #3 - The Airplane Woman
I was flying home during a college break, and while I was thinner then, I have always been The Fat Girl. But I flew often enough to know that if I pretzeled myself a certain way, while my seatmate would have no armrest, neither would I overflow into their chair.
I am a courteous flyer, and I choose to buy 2 seats now. **This is not me, this is Militant Baker; if you don't know her, you should go read everything she's ever done (as soon as you finish reading everything I'VE ever done)!** via http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2012/10/25-things-fat-people-shouldnt-do-6-fly.html
Boarding this one fateful flight, a long one from North Carolina to San Francisco, when I got to my assigned seat, I guess I was the straw that broke this lady's back.
She went OFF, I kid you not, for a solid 10 minutes, scarcely stopping to suck in a breath before rampaging on, getting louder and louder, about how horrible fat people are. How we hoard the resources of society. How we make everyone cater to our whims. How we are selfish and rude and smell bad and don't care about anyone around us who is forced to have us invade their environment.
When she finally stopped, trembling with rage and gasping in huge breaths, the entire plane was silent and staring at us, slack-jawed. Several passengers were stuck in the aisle behind me, frozen with shock at the vitriol.
Without blinking, and with true concern, I asked, "Do you feel better now?" I wasn't trying to be funny - clearly, this lady had had a really rough day. To go off like that, something more than me had to be going on. Right?
"No! Why?!" She spat the words at me.
"Well," I pointedly looked myself up and down and all around, "That tirade hasn't made me any thinner. I was hoping it at least made you FEEL better, otherwise it was pretty pointless."
The entire plane roared with laughter, some people doing that "oooOOOOOOooo" sound that was popular before 'burn' became a thing. Again, I wasn't trying to be funny - she seriously looked like she was going to have an aneurysm - and nobody should ever have to feel that angry.
She then asked the flight attendant to move my seat; the attendant held my arm and looked into my eyes and she earnestly said that she would move me if she could, but the flight was full. Several people volunteered to switch with me, so that I didn't have to sit next to her. Then some guy in the back of the plane yelled, "If she don't like it, why don't SHE get the fuck out?!"
The hateful lady stood up and glared towards the back of the plane, told me to get out of her way, and she really did get off the plane. While everyone cheered.
In the face of experiences like these, I really don't care about the Dear Fat People video. I don't have the energy to care about what some random person I've never met says about fat people in general and not to their face. Maybe I should, but I just don't.
I DO care about videos like hers and attitudes like that emboldening people to treat ANYONE the way I've been treated of late.
I'm lucky - even when I cry about it later (and yes, The Bellowing Man had me sobbing into Fat Hubby's arms despite the heat - I care about a lot of people other than me!), I seem to have an innate knack for embarrassing the crap out of bullies, and for some reason I have been lucky in not dealing with nearly as many rude people as some other fat people I know. To go YEARS without incident, and then have so many in so short a span of time, though, says that there's still a lot of people uneducated about obesity because they've never had to really deal with it, other than having fat people waddling through their life and bothering them by just existing.
To be continued...