Some people are rude and don#8217;t know it

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2006

OK all you Dennis Miller fans, I don’t mean to go off on a rant here, but, if no one has coined the term “reverse rudeness” then I’m going to do it.

You know, like reverse discrimination, where whites or the rich or some majority that typically doesn’t feel discrimination is discriminated against.

Reverse rudeness is the same idea, but on a less offensive level. It’s probably a stupid phrase to make up and may not make much sense, but I feel the need to classify a phenomenon that has plagued me.

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Most people would never go up to an obese person and say “Wow, you’re so fat!” Or to an extra-wrinkled middle-aged person and say, “Damn, you’re old!”

It would be horrifying and hurtful, and just plain rude.

So, why, then, do people feel it is OK to go up to especially petite women and say “Wow, you’re so tiny!” or “You look so young?”

If I had $10 for every time someone said that to me I could probably pay off half my student loan.

Yes, at 5 feet and, well, I don’t need to specify my weight, (but I will say, contrary to what some might think, that it is in the triple digits, not double digits) I am a small person. I realize that. But I was never made to feel it so acutely until the last year or two.

Is obesity n or at least the number of overweight people n so widespread in this country now that when people see a person of regular weight they are caught off guard?

I kid, but it does make me wonder when people comment on my size with such surprise.

I know I look young. I have two younger sisters, but I’m always mistaken for the youngest. Most people think I’m 12, or, on a good day (and with a little extra makeup) 17.

I worry that if I decided to have children in the next few years people will look down on me because they’ll think I’m a teenage mother. It’s a shallow worry, I know, but it does cross my mind sometimes only because it happened to my friend Aimee, who is 27 and has a 3-year-old.

Growing up, I always expected that once I reached my mid-20s I would finally look my age. To hear otherwise makes me a little insecure.

Am I being too sensitive?

My friend Beth, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, is a bit shorter than me and said she gets the same kind of flack.

“Oh yeah, I have patients that do it all the time,” she said.

She works as a dental hygienist in Kentucky. Most of the time, patients are brought back to her room, and they don’t realize her lack of height until they both stand up after a cleaning. Then many of them comment: “Oh, you’re so tiny aren’t you?”

Some of the older patients ask her if she is old enough to work there. And in college, when she would go to dinner with her parents and youngest brother (who is 15 years her junior), waiters asked if she would like a kid’s menu.

I’ve never had that happen to me, but once the guy at the post office looked at my wedding ring and asked if I was old enough to have it.

I’m sure there are some women out there who would like to lose a few pounds, or a lot of pounds, or are getting Botox injections as fast as the doctor can squeeze the syringe. They might be reading this and cursing women like me and Beth and Aimee; but the point is we have body issues, too, and we don’t need them pointed out any more than fat or old people do.

I wish I could stretch my legs an inch or three, and I wish I had a few more pounds in a few more places. Although I will admit, if this looking young deal stays with me, I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in about 30 years.