Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Great Puzzle #4: Park Conversations

The weather has been amazing these past few days. So, I decided to wear a dress and go read for school in the park. You know, tanning those legs a little. Unfortunately, with wearing dresses and shorts comes not only a tan, but also catcalling and strangers telling you how to treat your body.

I had an awfully boring class in the morning about the educational system of the US. And the only thing getting me though it was the prospect of a nice afternoon in the park. So, when class was over, I fetched my blanket and books in my room and headed to the park. On my way there, I started thinking “Wouldn’t a salad be the cherry on top of this sunny day-cake?”. So, I got myself my favorite salad and carried on with my little walk to the park, appreciating all the people in their firstsunntdaysoftheyear moods. I arrived at the park, laid out my blanket, sat down and started eating my salad when…

*Ugly statements coming up, reader discretion advised*

I heard some guy behind me “Excuse me. Euhm… Hello?”. I turned around and saw that there were two guys of Moroccan or Turkish ethnicity (I don’t really know... And no, I am not racist. And, yes it is relevant to the story. Just keep reading and it will become clear in a minute.) sitting behind me. “Euhm, hello.” They seemed very friendly until, “Why are you eating a salad? That is not going to do you any good?”. So I asked, “How so?”. To which they replied, “Well, wouldn’t it be better for you to eat meat or something of the kind?”. “Why?” “you look like you could use some more strength” and whilst saying this he gestured with his hands around his arms that they should gain mass, or put on weight or whatever.  I was getting pretty annoyed at this point and my face reads like a book. So, as put together as I could I said, “I decide for myself what I eat and how I treat my body. So, I would like for you not to tell me what to eat or how my body ought to look. It really isn’t necessary.” This is when they started to sense that I was uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they concluded the following, “It seems like you don’t like to talk with foreigners.” I was feeling so mad and sad because that was just not true. So, I said, “No, that has nothing to do with it. I just don’t appreciate it when people tell me what to eat or how to take care of my body…”. And then, before I could even finish talking, “Ok, ok, I was just saying that you could use some meat to strengthen up.” At this point I was just mad, “I think I am strong enough up here *pointed to my head*, but thank you anyway.” To which they said, “Alright, you don’t have to be so aggressive. You are making me feel uncomfortable when you are looking like that. You know, if eyes could kill I would be dead by now. We are just two guys trying to be friendly. There is no point in being so offended.” Now, I was just confused. I turned around, finished my delicious salad and started my book I had to read for school. About fifteen minutes later they got up to leave and said “Goodbye, nice meeting you.” One of them pointed to my book and said “Good luck with your exams.” I told him thank you.

That occurrence was yesterday now. I was so mad. To me they were just two sexist annoying guys who thought they had the authority to tell other people how to treat their body. Don’t get me wrong, they did. But, I don’t think it was intentional. I have now come to realize that they actually were “just two guys trying to be friendly”. Sadly, they didn’t know any better. It also didn’t help that for me, like a great majority of the girls/women worldwide, it is difficult to be in those sort of situations in which people are commenting on your weight and giving their “advice”. Luckily, I feel good with the way my body looks. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to react in the way I did. But that doesn’t make it ok for other people to suggest some changes I could make. It also doesn’t mean that it can’t hurt and do some serious damage. I know I look good according to present day beauty standards. I have the long legs, the tiny waste, the long hair and the measurements of a model. Knowing that, I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t boost my confidence. But, that doesn’t mean I always had the ability to put things into perspective when it comes to my body. I was always the extremely skinny girl who swam at least 2 hours a day, sometimes twice. And that raised some suspicion. People would always tell me to eat more. Even if I already ate three times the amount they had eaten. And I still hear people whispering behind my back, recognizing the words “way too skinny” or even “anorexic”. Fortunately, now I can put those things in perspective. I know that I eat somewhat healthy. I do not shy away from a pizza. And, when I want to eat a salad, I WILL EAT THAT SALAD! There is no point in trying to be anything that I am not. I will never have the big boobs, nor the juicy butt. But, that’s fine. I am me and that really, honestly should be and is enough.

P.s.: I would like to, also, talk a little bit about the racist thing, when those guys thought I didn’t want to talk to them because they were of a different ethnicity. It saddens me that they would think that and so easily conclude that I was racist. This, to me, was a sign that racisms still is a serious thing. And I hope we, awesome people, can do something about it. I am not going to go further into all of that though. Because, I simply do not know enough about the matter. But, I also didn’t want to not go into it at all.

I hope you are feeling ok. And if you find yourself in a similar situation, talk with that person. Start the conversation. And then, keep the conversation going. I know it is hard. I am SO proud of myself for reacting the way I did. Of course, I could have handled things better. But, it is not easy to say in the moment what you want to say or even just try to say what you want to say.

Share this PostPin ThisEmail This