Wednesday, October 3, 2012


This is something I wasn't going to share because its personal, embarrassing and a sore point for me but after seeing a video that was circulating Facebook yesterday I decided I couldn't stay silent.

On Monday I took Mischief to his gymnastics class, like I always do. I found a seat at the edge of the mats, like I always do and settled in to watch my boy tumble and swing and run, like I always do. My regular mom pals weren't there to hang with so I was on my own. 

Within minutes a couple of other moms found seats near me and started chatting ... to each other ... but loud enough for me to hear.  Their conversation begin generic enough but took a unnecessary judgemental turn pretty quick. They had been talking about a mom and tot fitness class that one of the moms was attending.


"The instructor is great, she gives a lot of tips about how to have a healthy diet too."


"I have always chosen a healthy lifestyle."

All right.

"I mean, why eat junk when you can eat fruit and veg? I'm not a vegetarian, I mean, like, I eat meat once in a while but just organic stuff. Toxin free, you know."

Good for you.

"I just don't get heavy people. I mean why choose to be fat when you can be healthy?"

Huh? Did she just say that? Was she looking at me? Nah, I'm just being paranoid.

Louder, "Heavy people just need to have some self control and then they won't be heavy. Just put down the cookie already!" Laughing.

Seriously? Just watch your kid, Random, just watch your kid and ignore the rude nutter.

Louder still and leaning a little forward, "I don't buy it when heavy people say they try to lose weight but can't. If they were really trying it would come off. Fat people are lazy, I think."

Thankfully, at this point the lady's friend (who, to her credit, was visibly uncomfortable with her pal's take on the subject) was finally successful in changing the subject. They went on to talk about childbirth and doulas and my pal's husband arrived and provided the perfect conversational distraction for me. I was distracted but still kind of bothered.

Now, this isn't the first time a stranger has felt the need to comment on my physical appearance. I have experienced the full gamut of busy body encounters, from the loud talkers to the outright confrontations. I have been told that I am a bad example to my daughter, that if I loved my family I would lose the weight so I could live longer, that I should be ashamed of my lack of self control. I have been laughed at, teased and judged because of my size for most of my life. Even as an adult, people have discounted my character because I don't look 'the part' and yes, it hurt.

It hurts.

But here's the thing that prompted me to write today, here's the thing I just realized ... comments like that, conversations like that are bullying. Just the same as if I was being held up against a locker in a junior high hallway. Just the same as if I was knocked down and kicked in the schoolyard. Just the same.

Now, I'm a grown up and although rude comments hurt my feelings, I don't feel powerless and victimized. I do feel irritated and disappointed. I feel confused and frustrated. I do wonder what is going through the heads of the self important people who can't keep their opinions and judgements to themselves. I do wonder how we expect kids to be kind, to stop bullying when we as adults can't stop.

Adult bullying happens all the time, all over the place. It happens in the workplace, in the malls, at the gym and over a cup of coffee with friends. It happens but we assign it different labels, as grown ups. High pressured sales. Competitive advertising. Right of passage. Joking. And my personal favourite, 'sharing' information out of concern.

No matter how you cut it, its unnecessary, its mean and it needs to stop. We need to stop it. We need to have the courage to stand up, be an example and chart a new course. We need to use our influence to change what must be changed.

So, to the video. It speaks for itself, really so all I'll say is this lady is classy, brave and fabulous. And I'm proud of her!

The cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.
~ Jennifer Livingston


Chatty Cathy said...

I want to go to gymnastics with you next week and have a chat with the loud talker.

Chatty Cathy said...

I want to come to gymnastics class next week with you. That Mom needs to learn some manners.

Tara Wyton Photography said...

I was there by myself too :( I looked for you but I didn't see you!!