When You Call Yourself Fat…
...are you offending other people?
I wrote this post a few weeks ago and then put it aside not sure if I should publish it. Then my friend Gwen made a comment on another post saying a very similar thing. So I decided to put on my grown up panties and post it in hopes that it will start a positive discussion.
I listen to people shopping put themselves or the size of their clothing down all the time. And I wonder if they realize how offensive they might be to other people. For clarity before I go on - I am not usually personally offended. But I am trying to pay more attention lately to how I talk about myself - first to be respectful of myself and secondly to be more aware how I sound if someone else is listening from the outside. It is this second point that I focus this particular post.
For the sake of providing an example I will use my husband. My husband is particularly skinny - he wears a size 28/29 waist jean. And he is constantly saying things are size "elephant" if the size is any larger than a 30. Well the average size Canadian is much larger than a 30 - I am larger than a 30. So when we are shopping pretty much anyone in the store could take his comment as an insult to them. Of course he doesn't actually think people bigger than him are elephant size. But his comments could be considered rather offensive by others.
I have friends or acquaintances that will talk about how fat they are, or how much weight they have gained, or how they dare not have a piece of cake cause it would go straight to their hips (note - I have been guilty of all of these). Then in the next breath say, but "you" look great go ahead and have dessert. How can I, 2-4 dress sizes larger than many of my friends, not think when you call yourself fat that you are also inferring that anyone larger than you is also fat?
I talk a lot about accepting who you are and owning your own beauty. I encourage myself, and others, to be kind to themselves. To give ourselves a break. To be a good example to our children to encourage them to accept and love themselves. And I have a great good of supportive girlfriends, who really try to help each other work through our body issues.
I am not talking about how we can get exasperated by a beautiful friend who might not be able to see her own beauty - that was a topic of another post from another day.
I am not talking about the occassional time you just put your foot in your mouth. Like the time I commented to a woman wearing head to-toe denim that I really think it looks like crap when wear denim with denim. Or the time I congratulated a friend on being pregnant. Actually I think those are two feet in mouth moments!
I am talking about when your own self talk or glib comments can be taken by other people as being critical of them. I wonder about the example we provide when we talk about ourselves. When I crack a joke about shopping at plus size stores because I need a 14/16 size pant. What does someone who wears an 18, 22 or larger size feel I am saying about them? Or the example we provide for slimmer women than ourselves when we made glib comments about skinny girls.
I don't think I have the answer. But the idea that we could be offending other people by how we talk about ourselves has been rattling around my head lately. So I thought I'd put it out there and see what kind of
shit storm discussion results.
The start for me, has been to become more aware of how I talk about myself. First to be respectful of myself and second to be respectful for those around me. So I try not to use my physical self as the butt of the joke. Not just to myself, but with others. Because when I put myself down, I could be putting them down too.
What about you? Are you ever offended by how other people talk about themselves?