There's a brouhaha going on over some comments made by the CEO of a certain US retailer. I won't name it here, but it's hard to miss! To say that this company is in the midst of a public relations nightmare is probably putting it politely. When I read the quote I was a little angry, but honestly not at all surprised.
You see, I've been experiencing what I call "Attitudes" based on my weight, pretty much my entire life. I'm not lying. It's the honest to goodness truth. I experience it on a weekly basis, on the train, in the grocery store, in a restaurant. People prejudge, and prelabel me on a daily basis. They think of me as lazy, useless and stupid. They don't get to know me, they just look at my outer packaging and decide that I'm not worth the time or energy of getting to know.
I'm not lazy, I'm not useless and I'm certainly not stupid! I'll walk until I drop, I've twice walked 60km's in 2 days to raise money for breast cancer. I've walked thousands of kilometers training for events. I go and I go and I go until the job is done. I've had people I work with call me the energizer bunny. I get the job done, and you know that...if you get to know me.
I see the pitying looks as I pass people by. I hear their whispers. I see their quickly shifting eyes. I see them try not to stare. I see them rolling their eyes. I've seen it all. I've experienced it all. From the server who rolls their eyes at my request for a table not a booth, to the stares of people as I walk through the restaurant. To the darting eyes as the server brings my meal.
I've not gotten jobs even though I was qualified and a great candidate. I didn't get a job at a retailer that was doing a hiring fair when I was in my early twenties. At the interview the man told me I didn't have enough experience. One of my friends who worked at the same place as I did but is slender, was offered the job by the same person 10 minutes later. I had been working at our place of business for longer.
I often get a half of a pod to myself when I'm on the train going home and my train buddies aren't there. The reason, quite plain and simple. People don't want to sit next to the fat lady. I've heard people say it as they talk to their friends, urging their friends to walk past, keep looking for 2 seats, even though there's 3 seats available in my pod. I've then watched them give up trying to find seats, and instead of sitting at my pod, they will stand for the first 25 minutes of the train ride. Stand for 25 minutes rather than sit next to the fat lady. It happens weekly. It happened today, almost a dozen people passed by an empty seat because a heavy person was in the seat beside it.
I've been yelled at on the street by a man who walked into me. Yelling that I was to blame for him bumping into me because I was so fat. As if my size had anything to do with him not watching where he was going while he was texting on his cell phone.
I've been described as the huge fat lady who sits at the back, by a customer. I've been told I would have such a pretty face if only I lost a few pounds. I've had total strangers come up to and tell me that they can help me lose weight.
So while everyone is up in arms about the comments made by a CEO who made millions of dollars last year. Think about how the person on the train sitting alone feels as people walk past because they don't want to sit by the fat person. Think about how the snide comment or the whispered words hurt and tear at their self esteem. Instead of looking away from the heavy person, look them in the eye and smile at them. You just may make someones day!