As many of you know, I have been sharing my story about the daunting journey toward body positivity through my blog. Recently, I have decided to share it with people through conversation as well. People have told me that my anecdotes are eye-opening for them and that they never really thought about the struggles and insecurities I face each day as a plus size woman. For them it’s eye-opening, for me its just my truth that I stand in each day. We all have different life experiences and it’s time to listen to each other and learn from each other.
This blog post is inspired by my own personal experience as a plus-size woman and the devastating reality that I have seen in my friends and family post election.
I was speaking to a middle-aged, white man.
We were speaking of white privilege. He told me he doesn’t believe in it. I told him that it exists. He told me that there’s no way he was privileged growing up. He told me of his youth. How he spent nights in a tent and scraping up $.10 to buy a pack of Ramen noodles. He worked devastatingly hard to make it by when he was growing up. He worked even harder to raise his family, sometimes with $2 in his account. He doesn’t understand how he could possibly be considered privileged. He was never handed anything. I told him that I believed he misunderstood what people meant when they discussed white privilege. That the word privilege isn’t meant to discredit his hard work but address the hardships or barriers others experience that he does not as a white man.
I was talking to a person of color who is also going into law enforcement.
(Regarding Black Lives Matter Movement) He spoke of how hard it is to “pick a side” and how he likes to “stay out of it all” because it’s difficult to nail down exactly what it’s like being part of both parties. He talked about how there will always be those people who join a potentially good thing and ruin it by acting childish by looting or rioting. Living with many different families, he has had to adapt to many people’s different ways of thinking and lifestyles. He just tries to pick out the positive aspects from both sides of things but still gets ignorant comments and opinions from people who don’t understand the concept of a middle ground. He ended the conversation by letting me know that it’s extremely difficult to try to even start to explain the feeling of living both sides.
I was talking to an Asian woman.
She told me about how sometimes she makes jokes about being Asian just so that other people can’t make one before she does. She spoke about how one time in college someone told her that she didn’t have to worry about studying because she was Asian. Dating is something that brings forth many of her insecurities. She believes she has so much to offer but there’s this lingering insecurity about a guy potentially not “being into” the fact that she’s asian.
I was visiting an elder care facility, and talking to an elderly couple.
Elders are some of the people we should cherish most in our lives. They have years of wisdom to share with us. But we often treat them like they have lived out their lives and can now be “put away”. We have these perceptions of elders that they have no value left to bring. I sat across from a couple during a campus tour and they shared their experiences with me. They were full of life. Full of questions. They wanted to know more about me. They were curious. They were energetic. They were kind. They had so much life in them. They had so many stories waiting to be heard; waiting to be listened to.
I was talking to a lesbian woman.
She told me about how she doesn’t get invited to many events with other couples. She spoke about how her parents saw her gayness as just a phase. That she sees her other family members being constantly asked about their relationships and their love life while, she doesn’t see the same kind of excitement around her love life. In fact, she often doesn’t feel like she can even discuss her love life with her family.
I am a plus-size woman.
Once when I was walking home from a bar in college, I accidentally bumped into a guy who was walking with two of his friends. He looked at me after I bumped into him and said “Moooooooooove you fat cow”. His three friends laughed. I cried. Hard. I don’t “just walk” when I’m at the gym because I fear that I will be ridiculed for not working hard enough. I fear that people will think that I’m fat because sometimes I choose to walk at the gym instead of run. I get embarrassed any time I order food. I have felt much more respected in my work place when I have weighed less.
I haven’t necessarily been telling people about my experience with the intention of earning their sympathy. My main goal is to explain how I’ve come to my set of beliefs through my life experiences. I’ve been telling them with the hope that they will listen. That even if they can’t fully understand what I’ve gone through they can still offer their hearing ears and try to see that every single human being has their own story. Every person has their own cross to bear.
I have great friends that are Democrats. I also have great friends that are Republicans. I have friends that are white, black, big, small, gay, straight, old, young, etc. They are all wonderful people, and they do not believe the same things that I do. They have not experienced the same things that I have either. Nor have I experienced the same things they have.
If we all just took a minute to sit across the table from someone different from ourselves, we might just learn a little something. We might be able to lift our pre-conceived notions, and stereotypical thinking. And we might realize that our viewpoints aren’t really that far apart from each other. For the most part, we are good people. We just don’t have that extraordinarily, godly ability to see people’s experiences exactly as they live them. And that’s okay. Listening is the first step.
*Note: I realize I have not even scratched the surface with stories of people with different backgrounds from me. I know not all stories are represented here. But I intend on listening more, as much as I can.