Really, this is just an excuse to show off my new floor.
“If you lost about fifty pounds, you’d have guys lining up to date you. Heck, I might even be one of them.”
I looked at the slice of pizza in my hand as I tried to pick my chin up off the floor. Had he really just said that? I decided to give him a chance to recant. I raised a warning eyebrow. “What?”
He didn’t get the hint. “Yeah. If you lost some weight, you’d be the perfect girl. Totally date-able.”
I performed a quick mental search of the backlog of our conversation up to that point. Had I asked his opinion on how I could be more attractive? No. Had I inquired as to why the guy I was interested in wasn’t going for me? Nope. Had I accidentally hit on him, inspiring him to make it clear that he wasn’t interested in being my next crush? Definitely not.
I suppose I could have returned the attack. I could have pointed out that it certainly wouldn’t have hurt him – skeletally and scientifically speaking, of course – to drop 50+ pounds himself and that doing so might just be the answer to the knee and back problems he was always complaining about. You know, since we had entered into the unsolicited advice portion of our dialogue. Apparently.
But this was not random street harassment that could be dealt with and dismissed with a stunning display of pettiness. This was my friend, who allegedly cared about me. He probably thought he was being helpful. He probably even thought he was paying me a compliment about what an awesome human I was.
It was not helpful. It was not a compliment. And unlike comments from strangers who could be dismissed because they didn’t know me, coming from a friend, it was personal.
I was so appalled, however, that I was unable to completely remove all the sass from my reply. “No, what I need to lose are the misogynistic jerks in my life who think a girl has to be thin to be lovable.”
The conversation got really awkward after that.
This is one of the stories I like to tell when people ask where I get my confidence. They usually aren’t looking for the real answer, particularly if the question is part of a conversation about beauty or dating. They’re not really interviewing me about my greatest strengths. They don’t want to hear that I love my intelligence and my wit and my loyalty, or the fact that my cooking has brought tears to people’s eyes (because they enjoyed it, to be clear). They don’t even really want to know how much I’m obsessed with my adorable feet or how I’m really growing to love my arms. They want to know how I – a fat girl – could possibly think so highly of myself, particularly in a society that does not statistically share that opinion about the rotund.
Where do I get my confidence? By standing up for myself. By calling a lie a lie, particularly when it was a lie that – until I heard it spoken aloud and realized how awful and wrong it sounded – I had secretly believed myself.
I get confidence from friends who remind me to fight the lies. Since I have been trying to lose weight (19 pounds down, btw), I have had several concerned friends affirming their love for me and making sure I remember what the changes I’m making in order to work toward this goal will do for me (lower my blood pressure/calm my blood sugar levels down/allow me to run without snapping my small-boned twig ankles) and what it will not do for me (make me even more fantastic and worthy of the space that I take up in the world, because according to us – and really, who else’s opinion even matters at all? – I’m already there). I have good friends.
I also get confidence from reading books like Shrill. Lindy West is hilarious. I particularly liked her chapter on how she answers the confidence question. This is a book I’ll be buying so that I can read it aloud at parties. I highly recommend it for people of all shapes and sizes.