“Why is she so BIG?” I was watching a movie with Woman X. As Actress Y entered stage left, those were the words that left her mouth. Instead of laughing at Actress Y’s entering line, commenting on the or even…I don’t know…paying attention to the movie whatsoever, Woman X decided to stop all things to comment on Actress Y’s weight in a judgmental and shocking tone. The moment suddenly became mine: the camera slow-panned from Woman X to me and zoomed in on my face. I owned the stage and had three very obvious options: do nothing and let the moment awkwardly pass, react angrily, or confront the situation calmly. I chose option 1 and the evening proceeded without interruption.
Fast forward 2 years to present day. Woman X and I are out to dinner when she tells me that a family gathering the last weekend was awkward. Why, I ask? Because they’re all so BIG. They must eat soo much, she tells me, as she takes another bite of salad and I’m digging into my taco. Oh how the universe was testing me.
In a previous life, I would have chosen inaction. But then again, in a previous life I felt comfortable and blissfully complacent. In between then and now, my eyes have opened and my courage has grown out of necessity. I no longer feel comfortable accepting my surroundings as they are. And I’ve realized that as hard as it is to confront friends with differing opinions, that’s where change happens. So I started a conversation with Woman X. It was an awkward redirection of the conversation: the tone changed from light and flippant to interrogative and constructive. There was no avoiding it. But Woman X is a rational woman and, although I don’t believe she fully agreed with my take on her words, I planted a seed. I have no doubt that it will live inside her for a long time and serve as a reminder next time she thinks about body shaming as I way to define a human being.