Wow. That’s a lot of junk food you’ve got there.
I turned and smiled at the guy behind me in line eyeing the contents of my grocery cart as I set items on the conveyor belt to check out. “Yes it is, but it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s a night to splurge.”
“Well, that’s still an awful lot of chips for you to eat.”
I heard the implication in his tone of voice and saw it in his facial expression. You shouldn’t be eating that. Why aren’t you on a diet? I was being fat shamed. Shamed by a stranger at the grocery store. Two hours ago, I was feeling fantastic about the way I looked today. I felt like I was channeling Audrey Hepburn from Sabrina. I was wearing my vintage plum wool coat, black turtleneck and red lipstick. I was wearing pants that hadn’t fit in over a year. I had felt so great this morning, I took a selfie and updated my Facebook profile. I placed the last bottle of sparkling cider on the conveyor belt. I turned, made direct eye contact with him, and plastered my best smile I cultivated during 15+ years of customer service work.
“Well, it’s a good thing that I’ve lost 13 pounds already during the holidays with all of the running I’ve been doing. I can eat as much of this as I want, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it at all.”
“Huh…. How’d ya manage to lose weight during the holidays?”
“I have will power.”
In the past, I would have felt the need to explain or justify my grocery cart contents. I might have told this self-appointed food police officer that I have 4 boys at home that will eat most of the chips over the course of the next 2 weeks in their school lunches. I would have mentioned we usually only grocery shop once every two weeks, or less for the six of us. I would have pointed out that the chips were buy one, get one free, and I saved $4.29.
I would have said we were dipping our Keebler cookies in chocolate fondue, because I was too exhausted this year to whip up any cookies from scratch. I would have told him that this was the third store I’d been to in the last hour gathering ingredients for our special New Year’s Eve family fondue dinner, and my car was full of produce for the organic salad with which we were beginning our feast.
I wanted to poke his protruding middle-aged belly with my finger out of spite, and make the Pillsbury dough boy giggle noise, or some other snarky remark about his body mass index. But I didn’t.
None of that matters.
If he had said, “Hey, can I come to your house for dinner? Those chips look great.” I probably would have would have laughed. I may have even opened the bag and offered him a few after I paid for them.
But, he didn’t say that to me.
Is a 5’4″ medium-sized lady really going to drink 6 bottles of sparkling cider, cherry 7-up, 3 bags of chips, 3 types of cookies, garlic bread, salami, triscuts, jumbo marshmallows, a red and green bell pepper and a bottle of white balsamic vinegar by herself in one sitting? And, so what if I did?
Public shaming comes as a natural response too easily to most of us. It is a lot easier to point out differences or flaws than seek to show understanding for strangers.
Some people may not show outward signs of their trials or troubles. But we can show compassion, and give strangers the benefit of the doubt. Not everybody is a jerk.
Maybe, the guy behind me in line wasn’t fat shaming me at all.
Spread compassion for strangers. Forgive someone you know… like a family member.
Assume that person wasn’t trying to hurt you.
Or maybe they did mean to hurt you, but you can fight back by choosing to let it go.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to spend time with a past abuser. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to accept what happened is okay. It doesn’t mean you have to communicate with the person at all.
Letting go of the hurt someone caused you leaves more room for love and peace in your life. 2016 could be the year that you choose peace.
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week If you haven’t seen the dramatization of David Foster Wallace’s This is Water, watch it. Watch it again if you’ve seen it, because it’s that good.
Bonus Points : Let me know what you want to see more of in 2016 on Repurposed Genealogy – DIY Craft ideas? Digital Genealogy research tips? Memoir pieces? I welcome your feedback (unless it’s embarrassing or mean, and then I’ll just pretend like it didn’t really happen like some of the guys I dated in my early 20’s. )