There are lots of reasons to not enjoy running. First of all, it’s physical activity, which I usually try to avoid. Secondly, it takes away from my time reading/knitting/reading the same news story over and over. The third reason, the one that actually makes me want to stop sometimes, is being observed while doing it. As I mentioned before, people seem to take the fact that I am outside as an excuse to talk to me. Friday was another beautiful day, so I took advantage of the heat wave. I encountered a car wash, sponsored by what may have been some sort of half-way house. The men that weren’t washing cars were lined up outside of the building, and I could feel their stares burrowing deep into my thighs. I made the judgment call to wear a t-shirt today rather than a tank top so I would draw less attention to myself. I even swapped a bright yellow t-shirt for a less conspicuous red one. I wish I could slip on the invisibility cloak.
I ran past some kids drumming on a drum pad on the sidewalk. I could hear them snickering at me. I huffed (at a slightly quicker rate) in between a group of guys drinking 40s on their steps. They were jeering me, and one said “That’s right girl, run that meat off you!” Well thank you sir, that is exactly what I’m trying to do. And I don’t need your snide encouragement.
Being fat pretty much means you will be humiliated in some shape or form. Bumping someone with your hips/ass, not being able to fit into small spaces, ripped or gaping clothing is all familiar territory. Other people may not notice these small defeats, but nonetheless, they are internalized and cataloged into lists of why you are inferior. But when people go out of their way to demoralize you, it stings. Not only do I know I’m fat, everyone else knows it – and then there are the people who tell it to your face.
Right now I am staying with my best friend while I look for a job. One day we were lamenting on how we were tired of our clothing and we didn’t want to wear anything we had. She said something along the lines of, “oh but what about the rest of your clothes in storage?” I had to tell her I didn’t have more clothes in storage. My wardrobe would easily fit into two carry-on bags. Now that I’m not wearing my work clothing, I have to do laundry every two weeks, and that’s after wearing everything I have a few times. (Well, not my underwear. I have approximately two weeks worth of underwear.) She was stunned, and complimented me on my restraint. I had to explain to her that it most certainly was not restraing (just look at my shoe collection), but the fact that I don’t have many options when it comes to clothing. I am a 27 year old vaguely punky woman. My clothing options are limited to Lane Bryant (boring and expensive), Macy’s or Lord and Taylor (matronly and expensive), or Torrid (too young and expensive). Then there is Old Navy, sadly my saving grace. But who wants to dress exclusively from Old Navy? When I go clothes shopping, I can easily try on 20 different pieces, and each will be unsuitable for some reason.
I went to Macy’s later this past weekend in seach of jeans. The store had an impressive “Women’s” section (where “Women” means “fat women”). There were sale racks filled with clothing that was 60% off, $9.99, etc. Cheap. Great, I thought, maybe I’ll find something worthwhile. I scoured, searched, and shoved. First, I don’t think there was a single pair of jeans in my size that was on sale. Instead, I tried on some Levi’s. I have had a few pairs in the past, and I loved them. One pair I bought at the Levi’s store in downtown SF. They were slim fitting and had to be cuffed, but cute. I could tuck them into boots. I’ve worn each pair out, and it would be nice to replace them. I tried on every style available (four), and not one of them made me feel good about myself. The proportions were all off, some didn’t fit my waist while another were too clingy in the thighs. Overall, the experience made me disgusted with myself. The shirts I tried on weren’t much better. Nothing fit “right.” Except for a cute Nine West dress that was $15. So I won’t complain too much. The only other jeans left to try were a few styles by Calvin Klein which cost $80. Of course, they were the only decent fitting jeans in the store. I had my $50 gift card, so I didn’t feel too awful about buying them.
This weekend made me feel awful about myself on a few levels. I can’t go out and exercise without being mocked, and I can’t accept myself and try to dress my body in a suitable way. Where does that leave me?