Classmate encounter leaves bitter taste

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words are by no means powerless.

&uot;Girl, what is you eatin’?&uot; resonated in my ear from the Chuckatuck post office well throughout my day on Saturday. It was as if she didn’t have anything better to say like, &uot;Hi, Luefras, how are you? What have you been doing? (Well, she kind of came to her own conclusion.) It’s been a long time. How’s your daughter?&uot; Yada, Yada, Yada and you know how the exchange between old high school classmates goes.

But all I could hear in a boisterous affirmative ‘shake-your-finger’ tone is &uot;Girl, what is you eatin’?&uot; As I made my way closer to my vehicle, which by my great luck just happened to be parked next to hers, (She apparently drove up while I was in the post office) she creatively finagled her hands to reference my rather &uot;full-figuredness&uot; below the waist.

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And she continued to look to me for a response – as if I owed her one. All I could say was, &uot;How are you, Trina? You take care now.&uot; I got in my car, looked at my mail as if it really mattered, and drove off. My first inclination was to turn around and give her a piece of my mind, but then I told myself that it wouldn’t be appropriate conduct.

But as I drove down Route 10 headed to the office, her question just kept eating at me. Yes, eating (of all words) at me. Why am I writing about this exchange? Because I’m sick and tired of people like Trina who think they have a license to make judgmental comments about other people’s appearance, whether it be weight, make-up, hair, clothes, you name it.

I’ll keep my two-cents worth on the weight issue. I am overweight. Let’s face it – I’m fat. I’ve been fat all of my life.

And no one has ever had grounds to call me lazy. I’ve always led an active lifestyle inclusive of sports, marching band, walking, exercise, you name it. Most people just write me off as big-boned. My fellow &uot;heavy-set&uot; people out there have heard that sentiment repeatedly. And then when I dare share my weight loss ambitions with people (a big mistake- just do it), they all chime in that no matter how much weight you lose, those hips and thighs aren’t going anywhere. Well, thanks for the inspiration.

I’m not fat because I eat all the time; however, there have been stressful times in my life that led to me to a cold piece of fried chicken at 11 p.m. during my Golden Girls reruns. I don’t drink or smoke, so it’s chicken for me, OK?

Contrary to popular public assumption, fat people do not sit around all the time eating fried chicken, ordering pizza at

midnight anxiously awaiting at least two bowls of ice cream to follow.

What’s my point? I’m tired of people who think it’s their place to say things like, &uot;You puttin’ on a little weight there aren’t you?&uot; Over the years, I would just laugh off comments like this, but now I make it my business to let them know that their rude commentary is not appreciated. Everyday when I look in the mirror, I face the reality that I am overweight and make attempts to do something about it for the sake of my health. (Some people are more successful than others).

And Saturday in particular was not the day for Trina to point out my saddlebags. These saddlebags have been a part of me for years. I wish I could just slice my saddlebags off, but I think a little more time on the treadmill will suffice coupled with skinless baked chicken instead of fried chicken.

Before Trina brought attention to my defect, if you will, I had also been chastising myself for missing my bi-weekly Saturday appointment at the diet clinic. But I’ll get back in sync next week.

Let me make something clear: I want to lose weight to make me happy, not to appease those who constantly open their mouths with disdain for those of us who are weight-challenged. So as the old saying goes, if you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say it at all.

Just think, when you tell an overweight person that he or she is fat, it increases the likelihood of them reaching for something to eat, instead of running to the gym. Think of how many times you may have caused someone additional stress or pushed him or her into further depression as a result of your comments. There may be unflattering things about yourself that you can’t change, but at least weight is alterable.

Maybe the next time I see Trina, she’ll invite me to lunch.

Luefras Robinson is a staff writer for the Suffolk News-Herald.