Hi friend, what’s it like to go to the grocery store while thin?
Let me tell you what it was like to go to the grocery store this week while fat.
It’s having people glance your way and then look away quickly, as if having glimpsed something obscene or disgusting.
It’s having a woman in front of you carefully move her cart to one side of the aisle, glance back at you, then deliberately stand in the very center of the aisle, forcing you to wait as she leisurely peruses the coffee section.
It’s having the cashier look at your frozen pizza on the conveyer belt and say, “Ohh, pizza. AND chips?”
When you don’t respond, there’s a silence, and she tries again. “You’re getting both?”
When you continue to smile politely and refuse to say a word, she makes two more comments about your pizza (this time attempting to shame you about the cost of buying a *decent* frozen pizza, since you didn’t respond to the fat shaming) before ringing it up and bagging it.
It’s adding one more day’s incidents to the accumulated humiliation and trauma of attempting to exist in public in this body. It’s reinforcing in your mind that this is the cost of daring to try to participate in the public sphere. It’s knowing that you’ll never, ever be able to appear outside your home without being constantly watched and judged.
What’s it like to never have to carry that burden?
When I first shared this experience on my personal Facebook account, some of the responses from thin folks were interesting and useful (and unintentionally dismissive of the experiences of fat people).
> Is it possible that people around me were just glancing at me and then quickly away out of politeness? Sure, in theory. But those of us who live in reviled bodies quickly learn to tell the difference between “idly looking around” and “observing other people” and “ewwww.”
> Is it possible this experience was just the sort of everyday weirdness that happens when you live in a world with other humans, and that thin folks occasionally feel shamed and judged about their public choices, too? Well, no, it’s not the same at all.
While people of all sizes do indeed experience strange inter-human interactions, and thin people are sometimes judged or mocked — because bad stuff happens to everyone sometimes — there’s a real and major difference.
When a grocery store cashier comments on the calories in a thin person’s selection from the hot bar, it’s usually an invitation to participate in diet culture in the same way the cliche “I’m so bad for having this bagel, wouldn’t you agree?” conversation works in offices.
It’s not a judgment on your body or your choices, it’s a chance to bond.
“Here, let’s both take these daggers and slash ourselves a little bit, won’t that be fun? Then we can be blood sisters.”
When people comment on fat people’s food choices, it’s a judgment. It serves to embarrass us, harass us and further isolate us. There’s no offer of bonding. It’s part of a system of oppression.
“Hold still. You deserve this.”
Hi! I’m Lindley.
I’m a photographer, author, cat mom, subscription box creator, and fat activist.
I help people reclaim their bodies through photography. I capture images of people of all sizes, ethnicities and genders, not just the ones whose bodies are likely to be seen in magazines and advertisements.
Every week I talk about topics like this in my free Body Liberation Guide.