I’d like to share this story with you all and would love to hear how you think I should have responded to this. Of course, at the time I had no words so remained silent which I’m kicking myself for now.
I’m 22 years old now but have been overweight for the majority of my life. Around two years ago, I decided to start eating healthily and joined a gym. Over time, I managed to lose quite a bit of weight and I am now a UK size 10. Unfortunately, I’m still unhappy with my body and don’t have a lot of confidence in myself so I still push myself daily in order to lose weight. Sometimes this causes me a lot of stress and upset because I haven’t achieved what I would like to achieve.
Anyway, my boyfriend and I had arranged an evening at a night club for a friends birthday. I was excited for the night. I spent the day getting ready and even bought a brand new pink dress which I was nervous about wearing but loved it! Usually I stick to wearing black because I don’t like drawing attention to my body. After spending a fun afternoon getting ready for the big night out, I left the house feeling happy about how I looked though still self concious about the parts of me I didn’t like.
We all arrived at the nightclub and the girls headed for the dance floor whilst the men stood around at the bar. I was having a good time dancing with my friends when I felt someone reach over and ruffle my hair behind me! I turned around to see a man looking back at me. I didn’t say any thing and continued dancing with my friends – but he did it again and again and again. I turned round and gave him a confused look as if it say “What are you doing?” and he came up to me, looked me square in the eye and said “You’re FAT”.
I would like to point out that I had never met this man before in my life and hadn’t said a single word to him throughout the entire “hair ruffling” thing so this seemed very out of the blue and cruel. He walked off after that but left me feeling like I’d been punched in the stomach. My friends didn’t see what happened and I felt too ashamed to tell any one. Instead, I found myself sitting outside on my own wanting to cry.
I was so mortified about what he said to me that I didn’t respond to him however I really don’t know what would be a polite thing to say to someone who had hurt my feelings for no reason whatsoever. As soon as I got home, I threw my new dress away and unfortunately let his comment bring me down.
My question is, what could I have said? This man has no idea that I eat salads every day and work-out four times a week to try and get in to shape and I guess it isn’t really his problem either – but I just WISH I could have said something witty yet remaining dignified too. 0507-13
Likely the man was drunk which does not excuse his rude comment at all. There exists a subset of people in this world who use the power of the spoken word to gain control, manipulate, abuse and damage others. If only for a brief moment, he has caught you off guard and inflicted hit-and-run harm. We will never be able to change the ugly people of this world to be different than what they are. We can only change ourselves.
One question to ask yourself is why you feel shame for that man’s behavior? You’ve done nothing wrong to be ashamed about. Your response should at least be indignation that some creep thought you were worthy of his rudeness. Sometimes a little arrogance isn’t a bad thing if it helps you develop a polite spine. How dare this creep think he can dump his insecurities and bias on me! Who does he think he is?
Second, why do you allow a total stranger to hurt your feelings? You have given him far greater power to rule you than he deserves. He successfully succeeded in removing you from the dance floor , ruin your happy mood, and destroy an innocent dress despite the fact that your friends and boyfriend were the positive counterbalance to his ugliness. One man, for a brief moment, had the power to tip your emotional scales so that the contributions of love, companionship, friendship and acceptance from your friends and boyfriend weighed little in the balance. Ask yourself, “Why?” Never, ever let miserable, manipulative, crass, insulting people live in your brain and heart because to do so gives them more power to hurt than they ever deserve to have.
What would I have done in your situation? Depending on the situation and the mood, I might have rolled my eyes and said, “Jerk”, before moving on to have more fun. Living life happily is the best revenge and you certainly never want to give anyone the satisfaction that their words might have a smidgen of power over you. Or I might have more firmly (as in more loudly) said, “What are you doing? Don’t touch me again,” which would have immediately alerted my husband and friends that something was amiss. Draw that line in the sand that says to yourself, “No one touches me without my consent…ever.”