Crackers and Shame

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.

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2 Responses to Crackers and Shame

  1. Hillary says:

    One of the reasons I have such a hard time going out anywhere? We inevitably eat. And I’m the fat bitch in the corner stuffing her face.

    The funny thing is I don’t actually eat huge portions when I’m out. At least, I don’t think I do. Most of my weight is not BECAUSE I ATE AN ENTIRE COW. It’s because I’m sedentary and boredom/stress eat when I’m alone. I also have a tendency to go spastic on a sweet. I can’t have 3 cookies. I have to have 30, even if it makes me sick I’ll eat 30 because I get a little high from the initial sweet taste. As I’m chemically borked atm, those little highs are some of the only highs I have. Even if the food I’m packing in is going to make me sick as hell, I’m trying to hold onto that first little bit of bliss when something goes into my mouth.

    Back to the point at hand, though . . . you’re not even a “big” girl. You’re a normal sized girl. But there is something about being faced with people who fit into the “healthy norm” we’ve been programmed to embrace that makes the rest of us feel like we don’t try hard enough. It’s like their existence proves we don’t spend enough time in the gym or watching our carbohydrate intake. It’s an ugly reality of the world we live in, and the only thing people like you and me can do about it is come to love ourselves a little bit more despite it. Which is, of course, the hardest part.

    I’m sorry you felt crummy. If it’s any consolation, I’d use a lawnmower on the hot guy’s face if I thought it’d make you feel better, but we both know it won’t.

  2. falconesse says:

    I’m mostly comfortable eating in social situations with my friends, but at professional functions or settings where I don’t know everyone (aka, every party I don’t host), I have to actively tamp down the fretting.

    It’s why I’ll often only take hors d’oeuvres if everyone else I’m talking to takes one first, no matter how tasty those mini-quiches look. Buffet-style dinners at sales conference? Eek.

    That’s probably the hardest part about FA/HAES — easy to accept and support other people. It’s getting my head around it as it applies to myself that takes some serious inner-barrier-smashing.

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