Ever have the problem of describing yourself to someone you've never met but are about to? Yeah, me, too. I mean, what do you say? “I’ll be the one wearing red.” “Look for the 38-year-old lass with a sparkle in her brown eyes.” “I’m the brunette with the nose stud.” Yeah, those work great.
Today I met someone introduced to me via text. (Oh, technology!) A few days prior to meeting her, I texted, “I’ll be the sexy fatty wearing a Hello Kitty tee.” The woman wrote something smooth back, but a mutual friend told me my phrasing thoroughly perplexed and, yes, even scared the textee. I’m not sure why. Did she think I was coming on to her with my mention of sexiness? Does she think college instructors should eschew clothing manufactured by Sanrio? Or was it, as I suspect, my use of “fatty” next to the word “sexy”?
Don’t think I didn't very carefully craft that text or ponder it at embarrassing length. In fact, it’s a question I've faced a number of times in the past when meeting colleagues I've never encountered in the flesh, coming for a physical interview after telephone ones, or meeting for Internet-arranged romantic dates.
See, here’s the thing: I’m easy to pick out of a crowd. I’m a fat, 38-year-old brunette who dons bright colors and carries Hello Kitty paraphernalia. I’d love to say this to everyone; actually, in the past, I have. Several times. The typical response to my description goes something like, “Oh, don’t worry – I can stand to lose a few pounds, too!” or, like the woman today, trepidation.
|Here's a picture of my hand. |
You can now find me in a crowd, right?
But, ya know, I don’t stand to lose a few pounds. I dig my physicality. There is no inherent apology in mentioning my body size or in my proclivity for bright pink, cartoon-festooned garb. How unfortunate that we live in a place and time where a simple descriptor like “fat” is regarded as an admission of failure or a plea for reassurance. Knowing this and wanting to avoid confusion about my attitude toward my body size, I added “sexy” before “fatty,” which is perfectly in keeping with the size acceptance movement’s focus on celebration of body diversity. Unfortunately, not many peeps are members of the SA movement. So, in spite of my best wishes and my hopes for avoiding awkwardness and confusion, my verbiage, my pairing of “sexy” with “fat,” confused, even frightened, my now-new friend.
So what’s a 5’7”, brown-eyed, curly-haired fatty with pink and red toenails supposed to do when describing herself to a stranger? Exactly. And now you understand why I spent ten minutes debating before sending that text. And what will I do when I have to describe myself next time? Probably say the same darn thing.
Incidentally, when the woman met me, she instantly recognized me. “It was the Hello Kitty t-shirt,” she said.
Yeah, sure it was.