She takes the cart as we walk out of Costco. It’s full of heavy items and she’s just been teasing me about getting old and not having the strength to push and lift. She loves to tease me so I’ll just let her have it. She gets to do the pushing.
As we hit the parking lot, a car stops to let us cross, the driver waves us past. Abbey pushes the cart ahead of me and I follow her. The car crosses behind us then and I hear laughter as one of the men shouts at me, “You got a FAT ass, girl!”
I lose my breath and look to Abbey to see if she heard. Nope, she’s got the cart swiftly headed to our parking spot. I immediately shrink into half my size and wish myself invisible.
Girl. He called me a girl.
Fat ass. He mocked my body.
I catch up to my daughter and she is starting to load the car. I’m humiliated and angry and just stare blankly at her while she works. I don’t want her to know and I do want her to know. We finish up and climb into the front seats. I spill it out and she listens. She wants to know where they went? Who are they?
I find myself saying, “I just want to run him over with my car.” And in that moment, I really do. I can’t believe I just said that in front of my child. My teenager. My daughter who is also now a woman.
I have no idea why men feel like they have the right to say things to women like this. To say it to me, as my teenage daughter walks with me. It’s amazing how memories and emotions rush back to me as I hear those words again and again…. fat ass, girl.
Somehow verbal assault has become normal in our society, even a joke.
We drive home and Abbey is rattling on about the problems in our society and I only hear a word of hers here and there. She’s full of life and energy and hope for change. I’m just sick to my stomach and already carrying the weight of my past that has come back to visit me.
How do I have a conversation about this with my daughter and be boiling over inside at the same time? I just don’t. I won’t right now. I listen to her tell me about all she is thinking about.
I’m a 42 year old women who has just been called a fat ass girl and I wish I knew why this is a forgivable trait in men. In our leaders.
Why are women so often judged by their face, their ass, their body?
My daughter and I are on to a new conversation and soon we are home. She helps me take everything into the house. We move into the rest of our day. The words don’t leave me, even as I wake to this new day. How will I choose to let them go? I don’t know, but I will.
Abbey will surely face moments like this herself, and I’ll be there to remind her that they aren’t her assaulting words to carry either. We are more than this. We are stronger than these words.
I may be 42 but she is wrong, I’m not getting weaker. I can push. I can lift. I can speak up. I can refuse to be treated like this. I can talk about this. But for my sake, I can let go.