“Six words can ruin your night, six small words can make you feel so small and worthless, six teeny tiny words asked by a stranger on the tube can leave you in tears.
‘Why are your legs so fat?’
I’m a healthy, curvy size 14, and after many years of feeling fat, hating my fuller figure legs, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.
The evening started well, a few of us from the office went for a couple of drinks after work, enjoying the London sunshine – temperatures in the 80s, and catching up on each other’s latest bits of news, holidays, work, the usual. The journey home started normally, the heat hitting you as you descend further into the depths of Oxford Circus tube station, hoping you are going to beat the theatre rush and be able to get a seat.
Once boarded, I sat myself between an older lady and two teenage girls. The two teenagers speaking rather animatedly to another sat across from me. It took me a moment to realize they had had a few drinks and were now doing balloons (nitrous oxide). They were getting louder, bringing more attention to themselves and being generally obnoxious. I was very much regretting where I had chosen to sit.
It was a few more moments that the girl opposite me leaned over and asked THAT question. I took my headphones out and asked, ‘pardon?’
She repeated, ‘Why are your legs so fat?’ and started laughing, as did her friends sitting next to me. Ever the polite woman that I am, I told her she should have more respect for people and not to be so rude. She carried on asking the same question, reiterating how she couldn’t understand why they were so fat.
The older woman next to me also responded to the younger girl, berating her for being so rude. And received a mouthful of abuse for trying to help. Other passengers just watched, some looking as though they will step in if it escalated, others just seeing what was playing out in front of them.
The next few stops went by slowly. I could still hear them giggling over it and I could feel my face burning. They got off before me – thankfully – but the rest of the journey was a mix of shame and embarrassment. Shame for being asked outright why I was fat, and embarrassment that it had happened in front of other people.
As soon as my stop came, I couldn’t get off the train fast enough. The first thing I did was call my husband. By this point I was crying and could barely get my words out, he soon got the gist and was extremely reassuring and was waiting with open arms to comfort me when I got home. I messaged my sister who was also very supportive.
I thought about whether or not I should put it on Instagram. Did I want to publicly tell people what had happened? Relive the situation? Would people think I was just attention seeking and looking for compliments?
I wrote a small post about it – it’s rather garbled, written quickly with a lot of emotion but focusing on how it takes nothing to not be mean. It would have been easier for that girl to have sat there and said nothing and not be mean than what she did.
I wrote about how my not-so-skinny legs have carried me through life rather successfully, through the hard times, down an aisle when I married my wonderful husband, and round 26.2 miles (42km) in Brighton when I completed that marathon in April 2019. I also received wonderful messages from lovely people which was an added (but not necessary) bonus.
Yep, I am a bit pear shaped but these ‘fat’ legs have done me well over 35 years. They’ve carried me through hard times. The person who said this to me was mean, and it hurt a lot, but it upsets me more that I let her get to me. Who cares really? Tomorrow someone will compliment my dress and normal service will resume. The important thing to take from this is the world would be a lot nicer if we were just a little less mean to one another. I don’t need reassurance – just be nice, or at least less mean to people.
My legs are still my least favorite part of my body. They have a bit more chunk on them than I would really like, but given everything, I’m quite happy with them – even if that girl does think they are so fat. I still wore my short shorts in Spain this year.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Grace Smedley of Walthamstow, London, UK. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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