The first speaker was an older gentleman that I have known for many years. His phrase was obesity. He stated (paraphrasing) that he had never been obese because he was a dancer. And if you were a dancer, you could not be fat because it was not attractive. He also said that being fat was not attractive.
I was called next. I suppose I could have let it go. I could have made a million excuses for him in my head: he's old, he's just not aware that he basically told me I was unattractive and that I should not dance. I decided not to let it go.
My topic was exercise. I started out mentioning that I was athlete in high school, spent some time in the gym, etc. And that after losing 90 pounds I knew the benefits of exercise and that I needed to do more. And then I said this "H. I have known you for years, so there are three things you should know - Fat people look great dancing, and fat people are not unattractive. And body shaming is not acceptable. Since losing weight I have become determined to eliminate body shaming. No one should tell a thin person to eat a sandwich, and no one should tell a fat person to put it down. When you look at someone on the outside you can't see what is happening inside or why they are fat. Body shaming is not ok. Exercise is important but loving ourselves is even more important."
The response was overwhelming. Lots of clapping and cheering. I felt great about what I had said. I learned after the meeting that H. felt bad about saying it. My immediate thought was good. He should feel bad about saying it. He called me unattractive. Not personally like ""Rose you fat ugly woman" but he said it to me because I AM FAT! Maybe I shamed him too. But would we tolerate something racist? Would we? No we would not.
I am not sorry he feels bad as harsh as it sounds. I have put up with a lifetime of being called names, told I was then human, and made of because of what I looked like on the outside. I hope that by educating people, telling them their words are powerful instruments of pain, and changing that behavior it will make a change in the world.