I give blood. I’ve mentioned it here before, and it’s something I’m proud to say I do. It’s easy enough, takes a half-hour or so, and the nurses who work the Mass General Bloodmobile are awesome.
At the end, before they release you back out into the wild, you sit quietly for a few minutes with your crackers and juice. I’m not entirely sure what the post-donation crackers and juice do, to be honest — whether they’re immediately replacing lost-fluids and getting your blood sugar back up, or whether it gives you something to do for five minutes so the nurses on duty can make sure you’re not going to faint and that the venipuncture site isn’t going to start bleeding again.
Either way, this morning I was sitting at the front of the bus, people-watching while munching on my peanut butter crackers, and I caught the eye of a passing pedestrian.
And felt immediately ashamed for being a heavy woman eating peanut butter crackers in semi-public at 10:00 on a Wednesday morning.
It’s not that guy’s fault. He was looking up at the bus, probably curious as to what it was parked there for. He didn’t make a face, didn’t even really react to my presence. I’m not sure how much of my reaction was triggered by his own appearance — he was surfer-dude handsome in business casual dress. Would I have felt the shame if it had been a woman my age? My weight?
I don’t know.
Thankfully, my brain immediately kicked back in and said, “Hey, dumbass, you just gave blood. As in, you just helped three people you don’t even know with your donation. Anyone who has a problem with you eating crackers can fuck right off.”
There’s a lot to unpack here –about my own self-esteem, the way I think others perceive me/my body, how much of that is due to the way the media says I ought to look, and a hojillion other things. I read a lot of feminist blogs, and blogs about Health at Every Size and Fat Acceptance, so intuitively I know why I felt that way. Still, it was disconcerting how visceral my reaction was.
I know this is a fairly substance-less post. I’m mostly leaving this here while I parse it all and will hopefully have something more coherent to say about it in a day or so, but if you’ve had a similar experience, please feel free to hop in with a comment.