I have a story to tell.. All of the events are true. The reason why I am telling this story is because I read this excerpt from Senator Gillanbrands biography.
“Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” one of her older male colleagues said. Her response: “Thanks, a—hole,” she said in an excerpt from her book.
An unidentified southern congressman once held the former upstate House member’s arm while walking her down the chamber’s center aisle. “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat,” he told her.
Isn't that nice of said southern congressman?
Let me tell you a story. I know a person who has a parental unit in a wheelchair. He was lucky to survive the accident that took away his ability to walk over well over a decade ago. He is a good person. He has a far different lifestyle than mine, but he is a good person. The person was graduating from high school with her parents and step-parents in attendance. Graduations are wonderful moments to celebrate a person we know and love. After the graduation, I went over to congratulate her father.
We smiled and laughed and told a few jokes. Then he said something that has not left me to this day. *You know, Raine, I don't mean this in a bad way, but you are starting to look just like your mother.* It took me less than a few moments to contemplate this statement before I said something that I don't feel good about to this day.
I said to him, I may be fat, <his name>, but hey! - When is the baby due?
I then patted him on his stomach. Situation diffused with a dark joke.
You see, many people confined to wheelchairs often do fine themselves with a bit of a belly. At that moment of time, I was truly astounded that a man, a man in a wheelchair chose to mock my body. It bothered me. It bothered me because he actually pitted my body image against my mother. My mother was not there to defend herself. He mocked my body for not being as skinny as I once was.
If I were a better woman, I would not have made that joke. I would have asked him: what is wrong with my mother? I did not. Instead, I chose to diffuse the situation by turning it on him and trying to create laughter. The reality is this IMO: I should never have had to do that. I certainly could have told him I was offended right there. Right there in front of the graduate, his wife and other family friends. Instead, I felt the only recourse was to use comedic levity. I am so over being told to lighten up over my body being mocked for not being whatever ideal men might have for it. I am so over being told it is just a joke. This was meant to be a moment to celebrate a young woman graduating from High School.
There are a million things to laugh about in this world, just as there are a million things to cry about in this world. Using levity to deflect another person's judgement of mine or any other person's body should not be one of them. Yet, I do just that. I do it because it's in the past.
When Senator Gillibrand was faced with that comment from a gentlemen from the South, I can honestly say, I am glad it was her and not me. She is fortunate enough to have a platform to be able to publish a book.
This is the kind of sexism (and fat-shaming, which is in my opinion another offshoot of sexism) that occurs in this nation. It happens right inside our legislative chambers. It happens every day. If it didn't articles like this would not be needed
You know, I don't need a man to tell me I am pretty even when I am fat. I won't lie here, I do ask my husband how I look. I care about how how I look. It wouldn't take a big huge leap to say that many people care. It's called taking pride, the way I see it. The problem is: there's this strange idea that certain parts of the male contingent seem to think they are the harbingers of what women should look like.
We talk so much in this nation about women finding a place from within to find and love themselves… how about we start with men just loving us for who we are, regardless of what they think we as women should look like?
We women would not generally say ever say "you <insert a man's name> still look pretty even if you ARE fat
The Senator was only fat in the minds of the men she mentioned. She is a minority in the Senate. I seriously have to wonder if those men are a majority in this country. I hope that these instances eventually get tossed to the dustbins of history, but for now, they are still here, every damn day.