I had never been fat-shamed before. I thought it was a made up feeling concocted by those who couldn't take constructive criticism concerning healthy weight goals and portion sizes...until it happened to me.
I met Mark during a period when my love life had been going awry for so long. On one of the many nights I needed to decompress, he appeared. I was out dancing at my favorite reggae spot of all time, Patty Boom Booms. This particular night I was really getting it in. The DJ was on point, the rum punch was strong and I had miraculously come up with these new, creative dance moves that made me feel like an American version of Patra. Just as I was really beginning to whine my waist, a handsome, very tall, bald guy came up behind me to catch my rhythm. We quickly synced as he grabbed my hips and held my body close in all the right places. We danced for at least an hour, which basically means we're married in the club world. Towards the end of the night I turned around to exchange numbers and realized I had danced with him before; People who went to Patty's were regulars so it wasn't abnormal to see the same patrons every weekend. He was cute and he had an accent - I LOVE accents.
It took him a week to call me but when he did we talked for hours and shortly thereafter we met for dinner. It was a quick courtship; we met, we fell in like and he offered to give me his house key but I declined as I felt that was too significant of a commitment. He worked in the medical field at Holy Cross hospital, he was 14 years older than me, divorced, owned his own home, built cars and was the co-owner of one of my favorite restaurant groups in DC. I thought to myself "This is a MAN." The mythical creature finally sat before me.
Everything was going swimmingly! He cooked for me and he cooked well. I distinctly remember coming over after a late night of drinking, ravenous with hunger. "Mark, I'm hungry. Do you have anything to eat?" "Yeah, let me see what's upstairs". He was gone for almost an hour and I started to doze off, disinterested in eating at this point. He finally returns with a plate that I presumed would have a sandwich of sorts on it and basically found a whole thanksgiving dinner at now 1:00am; I knew he was a keeper.
Our story quickly turned sour after our first argument. We spent the day in Annapolis near the water. I could tell something was off but he insisted that everything was fine. I wasn't buying it but you can't force men to express their feelings until their ready. Plus he's a grown man and I'm sure he'd learned to use his words, as we all did, in elementary school. He was distant and reclusive but I refused to let him ruin this outing. We ate lunch at a nice waterside restaurant for which he complained his fish had too much breading and the server wasn't very attentive. We left and quietly drove home.
That evening, his spirits seemed to be lifted. We had a mini workout session and then sat down to watch TV. A Wendy's commercial came on advertising their newest rendition of a chicken sandwich and it became glaringly obvious that I was hungry "Oooo that looks good" I said out loud. That was the farthest my thought had gone until he replied "Do you always have to talk about food?" I was taken aback. I couldn't understand where the undertones of hostility and ridicule were coming from. "I'm a food critic so yes I do talk about food a lot" I retorted. "So you mean every time you talk about food you're critiquing?" He asked snarkily. "No it's not always for my blog but food is my passion so I talk about it often because I like to and if you have a problem with that, sorry to tell ya but I'm not planning to change". I didn't know what was happening. A seemingly innocent comment had now turned into a full blown argument for which he revealed he was concerned about my health and that I was just on the cusp of a size he deemed undesirable. I wanted to smack him. I've never wanted to smack someone so hard in my life. I'd always been a chubby kid and at 11 I decided I didn't want to be fat anymore so I changed my eating habits and worked out habitually for several years. The audacity he had to tell me he was concerned with my weight and eating lifestyle was laughable. His concern was also hypocritical. He was the one who always took a second helping; he was the one who ordered the fried platter instead of the grilled; he was the one who tried to feed me 2 cheeseburgers for dinner when I had already stated I was satisfied with 1!
I packed my bags and left. I drove all the way to the city when I realized I had more to say to him. I turned my car back around and headed down Pennsylvania Ave to finish what he had started. It was probably almost 2 in the morning but I was wired and wide awake like I'd already had my 2nd cup of coffee for the day. He opened the door and I stormed in. Staring squarely in his eyes, fighting back tears and said something very close to "I work hard to keep my body the way it is and I am proud of it. I am always conscious of what I'm eating and if every now and then I want to have a cheat day than that’s my right. I don't need you ridiculing me for that. You're the reason women have eating problems right now because you're busy criticizing them against a double standard but I'm not going to let you make me feel ashamed. I love my body and I haven't had any complaints"
We sat in silence. I had hoped what I said sank so deep into his soul; that he'd really taken stock of the affects his words can have. While they weren't sticks and stones, they still hurt. "I'm sorry" he said. I didn't believe him but I was tired. Standing up for my stomachs rights was draining and I still hadn't eaten. We slept in the same bed that night but I knew we were worlds apart. Somehow my love for the culinary world had turned from cute to contentious. That's probably one of the very few moments in life I felt like a feminist. Fat shaming isn't just a womanly concern but I feel women are most impinged by it. So I'm here to say, ladies never let a man stop you from eating that Wendy's sandwich. It's your right plus they taste SO good.