Sunday, April 18, 2010

How To Make Skinny People Mad

I remember the first time I called my sister ugly. It was actually the only time, because I was in a lot of trouble. At five years of age, you remember a sound spanking, a time out, and the absolute indignity of having to pretend to be sorry and apologize.


Obviously, I was the whole package back then. There's no way my sister could live up to this look.

The good news is I learned that it isn't okay to point out flaws to people. They probably already know, and if they don't HEY! even better.

So that's why today I don't walk down the street announcing to passersby their poorly chosen outfits, body odor, crooked noses, or bad posture.

Other people, it seems, haven't learned this lesson. And it's a pet peeve.

A few weeks back, I helped out a friend who was doing a video project for school. In it, I pretended to be athletic and health conscious (ha!), explaining why I'd given up driving to the gym and jogged there instead (to reduce gas consumption -- I was pretty much the most socially responsible person ever in that video).

When my friend showed the video to her class -- filled with professionals who were earning masters degrees -- they erupted into derogatory comments when I recited my line: "I've reduced my gas consumption and feel better -- I even lost a few pounds!"

According to my friend, I was labeled anorexic and unhealthy and all sorts of other things.

Guess what, people? I'm not anorexic. I'm small, I don't exercise or even eat particularly well, but I don't think that merits vicious comments or anger. Just like someone's obesity isn't license for me to make snide comments.

I'm not the only one who tires of this. I talked to a friend recently who gave birth to her second son, and in conversation with friends she mentioned she was looking forward to getting back to her pre-baby weight. She told me she felt that her reasonable desire was dismissed... because pre-baby weight, for her, meant going from a size 6 to a size 2. Only the "normal" women were allowed to comment about weight, and she was just whining (or bragging).

Another friend deals with people constantly telling her to gain a few pounds or telling her how lucky she is to be so thin. What they don't realize is she's been trying to gain weight for years, and can't. Doctors have no idea why. So she tries to paste on a smile when people comment about her weight when it's actually a really difficult situation.

Thin women have fat days. We have body dysmorphia, we have areas of our physique that make us insecure, and we actually can't "wear anything because [we're] so tiny!"

Can we all make a pact to be nice? To be polite? I'm sure there are things you dislike people bringing up, too.

If you stop getting mad at me when I say my clothes feel tight, I promise I won't tell you what I really think of your next haircut. Deal?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Me And My Straight Teeth

Last week, a friend and I arranged to get together and make dinner. We hadn't seen one another in a long time and were looking forward to catching up.

She reminded me of a story I knew I had to tell all of you, because it really IS a "too pretty" moment.

My aforementioned friend hosted a birthday bash in early March. I knew her and a few of her friends, but having lived out of state for eight years, this wasn't a gathering of my closest and dearest.

Halfway through the evening, I was chit chatting on a couch with a few other people when I was targeted as an object of flirtation. Guy comes over, leans suavely on the back of the couch, and says:

"You have really straight teeth."

Me and my straight teeth.

What? Dude, if you want to use a memorable line, make sure it's memorable because I'm flattered and not because you come across like a moron.

I smile my tight-lipped I'm-pretending-to-be-nice smile, and told him my former orthodontist would be happy to hear it.

Since his first line didn't go over well, this guy reached into his bag of pick-up tricks for the next winner:

"You know, you look just like that girl from Sex and the City!"

Now I'm irritated, and decide that my good friend will either forgive me or stop inviting me to these things if I misbehave.

"Are you calling me a SLUT?" came the shrill response.

"What?! No, no... I meant that girl in the show! The one with the curly hair and shoes!" The guy fumbles, unsure why I'm not thrilled the way Dating for Dummies said I would be upon mention of Every Girl's Favorite Show.

"Well, now I know which slut you're comparing me to, so I guess that's good," I say, mentally adding that she's the one who cheated on Aidan and looks like a horse. "But she's not even one of the pretty ones."

"Uh..." he stutters, looking around desperately for help. His Ed Hardy-clad friends had vaporized, apparently, because he was all alone.

I took pity on his poor soul, and just turned around and began a conversation with a stunned onlooker. But I felt warm and fuzzy on the inside, which is what happens when you teach someone something valuable and improve their lives. Like Helen Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, or even Ron Clark today... same thing. This is what fulfills us.

Once an educator, always an educator.