Other People’s Comments

My mother was always on the alert in public.  She was fat, after all.  People could see her.  She was braced for their reactions.

At Denny’s, nodding at a stylish woman on the other side of the restaurant: “See how that one’s looking superior?   She’s watching me.”

At Safeway: “No, we’re not buying Pop Tarts!” (sotto voce) “Everyone’s looking in the basket.”

At my aunt’s at Christmas, she’d whisper: “I can’t eat pie here.  I’ll have some when I’m doing the dishes.”

As a child, I would look at the woman Mom had indicated … and see a woman caught up in conversation with her date.  I’d see shoppers who were arguing with their own kids, paying no attention to anyone else.   At Christmas, I’d see people who were busy dealing with kids and presents and leftovers and dishes, compliments for all the cooks, and no worries about who ate what.

This began to seem really strange.

By the time I was a teenager I had decided Mom was mildly paranoid about this topic.   Kind of like her insistence that leaving the house with damp hair will immediately result in a cold and her determination to never drive on a freeway.

The benefit of this is that I don’t assume people are watching me or thinking about me.  Not that I’m not fascinating ;)  but I assume that other people have lives and interests that simply don’t include me.   Yes, there’s occasionally a direct comment about my body, or very blatant staring, but short of that, I don’t waste energy wondering what they’re thinking or saying about me.

11 thoughts on “Other People’s Comments

  1. I think for the most part, people don’t spend a lot of time observing and judging others. I mean, that’s time wasted from observing and judging yourself! *snerk*

  2. My husband has that same “people are looking at me” reaction, though not about being fat, since he’s not, but it drives me crazy. When we were engaged and he shushed me in public because I was laughing too loud and “everyone” was giving me “dirty looks” was just about the end of us.

    I do have days when I feel like everyone is judging me for being fat–I actually found this got worse after I started FA, because my own voice was no longer condemning me so loudly the world itself was largely irrelevant. I actually think my self-hate started as kind of a defense, because if I could say or think the awful thing before anyone else, it wouldn’t sting as much (or so I believed).

    But I try to remember that I am NOT the center of the universe, and people probably AREN’T thinking about me, and if they are, they might be thinking good things, and if they’re thinking nasty things, screw them.

  3. I mostly don’t think about what other people are thinking about me/my body. Then there was a period where I starting thinking about it a lot and I couldn’t stop even though I didn’t think it made any sense. I hated it. I’m not sure if that was because I became uncomfortable in my own body (which had undergone some changes) or because I had some mental health stuff going on, or what. Fortunately the tendency seems to have gone away.

  4. My dad used to make fun… of me, and of other fat people. I wasn’t actually that fat back then, but I thought I was from all the teasing. I still have to fight with myself when I’m out in public because I hear my dad’s voice in my head and think everyone is thinking the same kind of things about me.

    • Darrke, I know you wrote this comment some time ago but I wanted to say my dad did the same thing to me when I was 12. I wasn’t “fat” I was a healthy 12 year old. I’m 28 now and 300(ish) pounds. I can’t leave the house without hearing him tell me how horrible I am and that people are embarrassed to be seen with me. It’s a constant battle.

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  6. People often also assume when you speak another language they don’t, you must be talking about them. Usually I’m more self-life-absorbed than to comment on everyone I see walking down the street, stand in a line next to, or ride an elevator with. It’s surprisingly hard to get away from being the center of the Universe in your own mind. I think we all fail at that from time to time.

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