Your body is a target

by

I used to volunteer at a community center (until it was shut down due to lack of funding 😦 )several blocks from where I lived and would usually walk there to help out on my days off from work. Not only was it a nice view of some of the older parts of the city, but I very much enjoyed walking and always feel healthier and happier the more I do it.

One of the first times I made the trek down to the community center, I noticed a group of young men, maybe in their late teens or early 20s (not too much younger than me), sitting on the front porch of one of the houses. I was walking down the sidewalk across the street from them and could see them watching me. As I got closer to them, one of them yelled out, “Tight clothes don’t make fat chicks look skinny!” and then another, “I’ve seen dog shit that looked better!” followed by, “Bitch!” and other darling epithets. All just because I was walking down a sidewalk minding my own business.

Okay, so I’m not skinny, but it’s not like I’m obese either. I’ve always had a few extra pounds ever since I hit puberty, but I’m nowhere near being unhealthy.

Also, the clothes I was wearing at the time were far from being tight. I remember exactly what it was: loose-ish t-shirt and a long peasant skirt that went down to my ankles. I couldn’t for the life of me think of how I could have been seen as wearing tight clothing, especially in an ankle length skirt! Maybe because the strap of the shoulder bag I was carrying was positioned between my breasts, accidentally accentuating them? Oh no! I have boobs! I must be out the get male attention! Which of course is just disgusting if I’m not a waif-thin supermodel.

Furthermore, it made me a little nervous to be getting so much negative attention in a part of town known to be crime-ridden. The way they were acting I thought they might actually try to follow me, but they thankfully decided to stay on their own block. After that, I changed my course a bit so that I would be walking 2 streets down from then on and I started carrying a big walking stick with me (for protection and because, admittedly, it looked really cool.)

What really bugged me about it is I knew they were insulting my appearance and weight because they thought it would be the most emotionally damaging thing to me as a female. They probably would have been less likely to yell things at a random overweight guy walking down the street because they would think, “This dude is bigger than me and I don’t want him trying to kick my ass!” I know guys can get harassed about their weight too, but overweight men are more likely to be seen as “jolly” or “manly”, especially the ones with just a few extra pounds like I have, while overweight women are always “gross” or “sad” (unless their weight is being fetishized, of course).

Oh well… Guess it’s all my fault because I just so happen to have boobs and big hips.

#MFIF

Serafina, Missouri

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7 Responses to “Your body is a target”

  1. sitakali Says:

    Even if you had been wearing tight clothes, that’s your business! Who gives a shit? What the hell is wrong with some people? Sounds like pure sadism to me.

    • Doomed Lapels Says:

      Seconding this. I know the gut reaction is to defend one’s appearance when someone makes horrible comments about it, but I think it would be good to try to stop doing it, because the implication is that there are circumstances in which the things these young men said would be reasonable. The fact is that even if the OP was ‘obese’, even if she was wearing the tightest, most revealing clothes imaginable, these kinds of comments are totally unjustified and offensive.

  2. piewackett1 Says:

    They are oh so brave in a gang, but scared to look you in the eye when alone.
    Thankfully I am now of a LESS RAPE-ABLE AGE. (Over 26, I am waaay over)

    Oh the joy! Such, such are the joys of womanhood in a patriarchy.

    Truly though, so sad and angry that you/we/ I have to put up with this total bullshit.
    If I were running this planet that would be an offense worthy of serving time in the big house.

  3. skipla Says:

    My male colleague (not fat) is unfortunate enough to rent a flat where he must pass by a group like this every time he enters or leaves his house.
    My colleague is strong looking and tall, very confident and has tried to talk to them but it just makes it worse. They shout at him and many others passing by whatever they think will hurt.
    What I’m saying is that it is not about you, your gender or appearance. Its really just a group of dysfunctional males that have serious personal problems that they try to take out on others.

    • junebug1986 Says:

      I believe they harassed her because of her gender and appearance.

      Yes, men can get harassed by dumb youths as well, but women get the majority of weight discrimination even though the percentage of overweight females is the same as males.

      Whenever there is a news story about obesity, what gender do they ALWAYS use to headline the picture of the story? What gender are diet magazines and articles always directed at? What gender gets the most negative press when a celebrity gains weight? Which gender always gets the blame for hurting a marriage because of weight gain? Which gender is expected to be back in skinny jeans two weeks after giving birth?

      I learned long ago that in our society the “penalty” for real or imagined weight problems is far greater for women than for men.

    • popesuburban Says:

      I don’t doubt these guys are dysfunctional and handling their personal problems poorly. But I also don’t doubt that the submitter’s analysis is sound. Plenty of man-children out there think women are nothing more than bodies that exist solely for male entertainment, and so they will naturally hone in on looks as a means of control. It happens and many times, sex/gender is an important part of it.

  4. Amy Says:

    Don’t second-guess yourself, Serafina. You have every right to be who you are and wear what you like.

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