Hello, how are you? A stranger on a social media group for fat health said they need to spend some hours in public by themselves, in a city away from home, and they’re nervous about it. They asked for advice for this situation–how to be alone in public, as a fat person.
Yes, it can feel so vulnerable. I’ve been harassed, barked at, had weird things yelled at me from people in passing vehicles, been given unsolicited advice about how to eat, how I look, how to modify my body, the clothes I’m wearing…
That could happen to anyone, but I live in a culture where my body itself is considered wrong. Many people grow up learning that women exist to look good for men, and “good” is one set way. Many folks never grow up and question those values that were handed to them–they believe those warped notions forever. Yuck!
I don’t need to express an outrageous need, or demonstrate any transgressive value or thought! My body itself is wrong, according to my culture. Many people believe that lie.
It took a long time for me to learn on my own, then with brilliant others, that my fat body is valid and deserves respect. What a journey that’s been, and so much work.
Do you find it easy, to be alone in public? Do you know how to be alone already? Maybe you’re seen as a normal person and left alone. Maybe being yelled at by strangers doesn’t bother you. Different people are hurt by different things.
how to be alone
These are the ideas I gave to the stranger, in list form. Please comment with more ideas on how to be alone in public, if you have any! Love to your needs!
- Headphones help me, even not playing anything on them.
- Writing in a journal.
- Friendliness can be nice.
- I also practice my “resting bitch face” that encourages others to leave me alone.
- Pretending I’m invisible can be helpful.
- I like txting with a friend about how I’m feeling. (I have a couple friends I tend to txt from doctor’s office waiting rooms, while I’m freaking out. Friends I can txt while freaking out are lifesavers!)
- Connecting to nature can help, like if I can go outside for a while and touch a tree or see some flowers.
- I have an emotional first aid kit that I bring with me sometimes. It has smooth rocks I can touch, delicious smells to smell, a poem by a friend, a squeezy ball…
- I’m not a mom, but sometimes I think of myself as a mom to myself. How would I distract a kid and keep them happy during some anxious time? A toy they like, a tasty snack, water or juice, ideas for impromptu games to play.
- I like to promise myself a treat afterward.
There are many reasons it can be hard to be alone in public. Social differences, autism, feeling vulnerable, anxiety, trauma / bad memories of previous harm that still hurt, living in a culture where we’re told we’re bad just for our body size, disabilities, queerness, gender presentation, needs, differences.
I’m so glad there are respectful people in this world who are filled with love and want what’s best for all. Too bad a few harmful loud people can ruin it, for all the kind lovers.
But I’m glad I have a lot of things I can do, to make it easier to be outside, and can post about them on this blog. I love you.