By Karen Malone Wright
I started a weight loss program today. Seriously started, I mean. Heaven knows I’ve “started” them before. I know I can lose weight on this program because I did it before years ago. Name a program: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, SlimFast, whatever, and I’ve done it. Successfully. Everybody knows that keeping weight off is the war.
Why am I confessing this to you? Because when the program counselor asked what was different this time, I told her that (A) I am determined to weigh less and be healthier when I take the stage at the 2017 NotMom Summit in October. And, (B) I am horrified to find that I can rest my hands on my gut like a pregnant woman can. (You didn’t really think I’d post a picture, did you?)
On my way home from the center, I replayed my words in my head, and that action replayed a horrible memory-movie.
I had accompanied a friend to the annual Home & Flower Show. Free tickets. Had to be, because I generally hate those super-sized traveling extravaganzas. Car shows, boat shows, RV shows…yecch. So there we were, somewhere squished in the crowd between a display of backyard water features and a live cooking demonstration by some guy selling skillets. I guessed he was part of the “Home” vibe, but if you think of an informercial host, well, there you are.
We stopped in front of his booth to watch him in action, slightly elevated above the crowd. While he waited for ingredients to cook, he engaged in playful banter with random people. His eyes locked on me and he said, loudly:
“This skillet is perfect for someone eating for two! When are you due?”
The crowd turned its eyes to me.
I smiled at the man and shook my head. He thought I was shy. Louder, he shouted, “Come on! You can tell us!”
My voice wasn’t that loud at all when I replied, “I’m not pregnant.” He sucked in some air through his mouth, then quickly walked to the far end of the platform to physically and literally change the freakin’ subject.
I remember walking away, trying to get far from anyone who saw what happened. I remember I cried a little. Some of the tears came because that rotten moment is the only time anyone ever did, or will, ask me that question. I wondered if he was just an idiot, or did my appearance make him certain that he was right?
A Hollywood ending would offer my confession that my serious commitment to lose weight began that day. It didn’t. And that’s not the point anyway.
I’d like to think that this episode ensured that the skillet hawker, and the crowd, now thinks twice before assuming that a woman who carries weight in her belly must also be carrying another human. But my hopes aren’t high.
I’m betting that this particular form of embarrassing, humiliating, enraging and potentially heartbreaking public guessing game happens entirely too often to plus-size women. I can’t believe I’m the only one it’s happened to, but I wish I were.