To the lady at the grocery store,
I saw you before you saw me. I noticed your cane and your slow pace. I saw your wrinkles and grey hair. I decided to be kind and allow you to go ahead of me in line, even though I was there first.
You looked me over as I gestured for you to go ahead. I was wearing a dress that I felt super confident in. It hugged my curves in all of the right places. For the first time in a long time since giving birth, I felt beautiful and sexy.
But you didn’t see that. You just saw an overweight woman carrying two packages of mini cupcakes. You eyed me up and down and said very slowly and almost sweetly “Dear, do you really think you need those?”
What you didn’t know is that I love buying treats for my coworkers. We work in a hectic office with a high volume of work. A little treat now and then perks everyone up.
What you didn’t know was that I gave birth less than a year ago, and some bodies take longer to bounce back.
What you didn’t know was that I cried a lot after I had my baby. I was frustrated that the weight I had gained wasn’t coming off as quickly as I wanted it to.
What you didn’t know was that I have struggled with body image issues my entire life. I’ve never felt like I was the right size or the right shape. I always wanted to be someone else.
What you didn’t know was that I went through a period of starving myself because I was so ashamed of who I was.
What you didn’t know was that I cried myself to sleep so many nights because all I ever really wanted was to be thin.
What you didn’t know was that I recently made peace with my body. Because my body is strong and capable of almost anything. I created life with my body and gave birth to my beautiful daughter with my body.
What you didn’t know was that I love who I am. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a colleague, a writer and an advocate for women’s rights.
You didn’t know me, or anything about me but you chose to judge me based on what you saw. Maybe in your eyes I don’t fit society’s definition of beautiful. But for me, beauty is so much more than outward appearances. It is love, tolerance, acceptance and respect.
I know I could go without a cupcake. You know what else I could go without? Your judgement. So what if I planned on eating 24 mini cupcakes? That doesn’t make me any less of a person. The only thing that would make me any less of a person would be making someone else feel insignificant. The way you made me feel.
I hope you read this. I didn’t respond to you that day because I didn’t have the right words. I have them now. I hope you understand that words can hurt and need to be chosen carefully. I hope you understand that people have feelings. And mostly, I hope you understand that women are more than their appearance. My body is just that; mine. So please, stop judging what isn’t yours.