I've been fighting off writing this, even though I knew as soon as it happened that I would. It's scary to write it, more personal than I would care to be. But I can't stop thinking I have something so say, and so I must say it.
I'm in Utah visiting my parents for 30 seconds or so (Saturday-Monday). While here, I usually hit up Ross, as there ain't no Ross in Boston.
So there I was on Saturday, at Ross, waiting in line to purchase several cozy, well-priced sweaters, when two little girls came up behind me, pointed at my butt, and said, "Big butt! Big butt!"
Oh, the things I wish I could/would have said.
I turned around, said, "That's very rude."
Her mother heard me say it, asked the kid what she had said, and a minute later a very embarrassed seven-year-old came up and told me, "I'm sorry."
I didn't know what to say there either, as my smart sister (Kira) has pointed out that telling kids "That's okay" when they apologize gives them the wrong impression: it's NOT okay. Pointing at my butt and calling it big was decidedly NOT okay.
So I just left off the "that's" and said, "Okay."
This has never happened to me before. This random insult from a child.
And I have all these thoughts about it, how weird it all is. I mean, I don't think she meant to hurt my feelings. It was almost like, for her and her friend, the butt wasn't attached to a person. It was just out there, big, and worthy of comment.
But that's perhaps the worst part, that it came without malice. It makes it feel more like the message came from the universe, somehow. Like the kid was this pure source, even though that's probably not true. I mean, truth be told, she was sort of chubby, and I think her mother's butt was bigger than mine, and so, aside from how much it bothered me, it also felt like the three of us--mother, daughter, me--were this bendy triangle of body anxiety. The insult got pointed at me, but it came out of all of our angst, even from the little girl, who is probably just figuring out her butt doesn't look the way it's "supposed" to look. And I was that little girl, so I know what that feels like.
I've been thinking about this kid for two days, wishing I could hate her. But I can't.
And it's weird to wish I could have explained to that little girl what she had done, how she had cut into a wound that's already gaping and raw. How much of my emotional/physical/intellectual energy I devote to worrying about that very butt's bigness. How many YEARS I've worried. How tired I am of worrying. How, in the last year, it's grown with abandon and without permission from me and despite every possible effort to counteract it. How many doctors have thrown up their hands in bafflement and blame. How NOTHING I've tried has helped--and I've tried everything I can think of. How people assume I'm lying when I say that, that I must have cheated or done it wrong or been half-baked about it, or it would have worked. How hunted and judged I feel by everyone in the world, like this is my fault; I can fix it; it's so simple and straightforward and healthy, so why not?
I cried on the way back to my parents' house, called Sam and sobbed. And the poor, sweet man, who is endlessly patient with all of this, just kept saying, "I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry."