It often says more about the person making a judgement of someone else than it does about the person they’re judging.
We’re all basically a complex set of rules and mental flow charts designed (as we grow) to make sense quickly of the world around us. We categorise based on good or bad experience and because of this are able to make ever quicker complex judgements based on what happened to us in the past.
I used to get picked out and abused on the street a lot.
Newer readers may not be familiar with this aspect of my weight loss journey but it was a constant reminder of how people saw me and it stopped me from going out unless absolutely necessary for a long time before I joined Slimming World.
It was the subject of several posts (Link) (another link) (yet another link) and it happened so often back then often I mostly just kept my mouth shut and tried to move on. I would be abused by teenagers hanging out of moving cars, drunks, white van drivers and more often than not (although usually this was observational rather than malicious) children.
I was minding my own business in a shop today, looking at the items on the shelf in front of me and listening to some quiet, chilled jazz on my earphones.
Then behind me I heard an enthusiastic child.
‘Fat man!‘ He shouted really loudly.
I turned around.
Physiologically I noticed my pulse rate quicken, my cheeks flush with embarrassment and my temper begin to flare. My jaw had clenched and I was about to unleash a cold, hard stare at whichever hapless parent was in charge of the little swine behind me.
Until I saw the child.
He was excited, jumping up and down and happy, holding onto the hand of his dad as he dragged him toward a video game.
‘Look! Batman!!‘ He repeated.
I unclenched everything – now annoyed with myself instead of him.
I’d mis-heard, then instantly leapt to judgement and filled in the blanks. I’d painted the mental picture I’d expected and in a heartbeat returned myself to a feeling that has been absent for many many months.
It wasn’t pleasant.
A few people have said to me lately ‘I’m not being funny – but you look normal now.’
Shortly after the words have left their mouths they then (all) falter a bit – desperate not to be simultaneously insulting and complimentary in the same breath.
I’m not insulted though – and I always appreciate their words because I know they come from a positive place. I also know from experience that it’s also sometimes pretty hard to say (without causing offence) that someone looks better now than they used to.
The underlying issue is that I still struggle to get my head around the concept that I no longer look ‘abnormal’ – which frankly I did before.
Granted – there is no ‘normal’ – and if you parachuted me into the middle of a society not currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic that didn’t sell plus sized clothing of any kind I’d still stand out like a sore thumb.
At the moment though I’m a big guy – but maybe no longer unusually so.
I guess the question is when will this revelation sink in mentally – and how long will it take for this knee-jerk fight or flight response to children and white van drivers dissapear?
Like everything I suppose this will take time. In the meantime however I’ll have to console myself with the pleasant surprise that there are little geeks growing up in the world who also love Batman.
Let’s face it internet – Batman is cool but Lego Batman is just frozen in permafrost!