Saturday Fluff: Snappy answers to stupid questions

I never did get around to doing a Friday Fluff yesterday, because I was enjoying the conversation about Extreme Makeover: Six-Year-Old Edition.  I was going to post when I got home, but instead I decided to go get my hair did. Not a great idea, all told, because if I’d gone today instead as planned I might not have had a hairdresser who joked about how she likes the gays, but why don’t they just cut off their pee-pees if they want to be a girl so bad? (Not to mention I might have had one who gave me the fucking color I wanted.)

After a rather trying hour listening to this woman’s opinions on gays and men (“You can’t trust men, they’ll always cheat on you, I’m getting a divorce after 15 years, are you married? You’re getting married?!? Congratulations!!!”), I was even more thrilled than I otherwise would have been to read this story (h/t Loveandlight). It’s the story of a moment of divine comeback inspiration, rendered both suspenseful and hilarious by extremely skilled writing:

Now, this woman…oy. There are thin women, and then there are Skinny Bitches, and my radar went screaming off on the latter immediately. She’s standing there in her overpriced workout clothes–you know, the kind nobody wears to actually work out in, they just wear around town to make it look like they’re oh-so-health-conscious. She has one of those stupid little pink leather purses that should have a dog in it, and an armload of magazines about pilates and yoga; her hair is that expensive streaky blonde that’s all the rage in people trying to look young and hip. She’s making fake small talk with the adorable pierced-and-tattooed boy en flambe, and taking forever to decide what she wants, talking herself into and out of a piece of cake about five times.

I’m barely paying attention, as I am scanning the menu myself (you know, making up my mind BEFORE I get there?), but she has one of those nasal voices that worms its way into your brain and makes your spine hurt, so before long I’m listening to her; I think she was trying to be flirty. Anyone with half an IQ would have known her charm was absolutely wasted on our friendly neighborhood cafe lad.

The woman is now weighing the pros and cons of having skim milk versus two percent milk in her latte, and she says, “God, I don’t know, I just feel so, like, fat today. I feel like such a big fat cow.”

Then she turns to me, and she says, GET THIS, “How do you stand it every day?”

I blink.

The adorable pierced-and-tattooed boy en flambe blinks.

Several heads in the cafe pop up because nobody can believe this woman actually said this to a total stranger. I feel as if the sitcom camera is pulling in tight for a closeup on my reaction.

For the rest of the story, see Dianne’s blog — it’s a great read. And tell us your own stories of your worst insults and snappiest comebacks.

103 thoughts on “Saturday Fluff: Snappy answers to stupid questions

  1. OH EM GEE!

    I think my response would have been along the lines of, “Well, with that voice, how do you stand to hear yourself think? Its probably similar, though that may not be much of a problem for you.”

    Full disclosure: I am in fact, a thin person, but I don’t believe I have ever, ever been a Skinny Bitch. If I ever sound like one, please feel free to publish my email so I may be flamed into decency.

  2. Karen, I doubt you’re in any danger. :) And honestly, normally I’d object to the term “skinny bitch,” except… we all know the type of women she’s talking about, and they’d probably describe themselves that way. I blame the patriarchy of course.

  3. i read that post earlier today and LOVED it. that woman is honest to god on my heroes list now.

    unfortunately i have no personal stories of snappy comebacks like that. i’ve been fortunate enough to coast through life thus far with little more than leering looks at my boobies and a bunch of “hey mami.” it doesn’t happen to me anymore because i live in civilized society these days, but when i lived in new york (sorry NYers) i got it all. the. time. i just choose to tune it out rather than say anything because these were skeezy guys and it’s better to just not engage them. different from dianne’s case.

  4. P.S. to what i said: also different from dianne’s case because it’s always been appreciative (?) comments. i’m a thin lurkers, too, and honestly, i don’t know how you ladies go through life without racking up assault records. i think by the third time i heard fat hatred spewing at me i’d be popping people in the face.

  5. Buffpuff sent me this, too, and I was gonna post about it!

    Setting aside the snappy comebacks… did you happen to tell that colorist’s boss that she enlightens clients with her views on men and teh gayz? ‘Cause that is so not okay.

  6. Hotsauce, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that my life has never been punctuated by outright hatred. I think the comment the woman made in the story is notable, and garnered the reactions from the onlookers that it did, because of its rarity. I am well aware that there are readers and writers who have been the victim of blatant hate speech, but it’s the subtle, covert undermining of fat people that really takes its toll. I would guess that all of us fatties have heard the “Youlookgreathaveyoulostweight” comment, or the concern trollage of family members and doctors. I almost think I’d rather be confronted by outright verbal attacks than to be daily exposed to the insidious type.

    Oh, and my brief comeback story? In high school a kid down an empty hall saw me and mooed. I looked back and barked.

  7. Kate, I didn’t even think of it but I guess I should have. No idea how to get in touch with the boss of course. Meanwhile I’m waffling on whether I should go back and just request anybody but her… it’s a pretty cool place, very convenient, and easy to get an appointment, unlike the place I’ve been going which is downtown and cancels your appointment but charges you full price if you’re 15 minutes late (meanwhile they never see you on time). I don’t like my color and I didn’t like the experience but i’m not sure I should ding the whole place for her behavior.

  8. This made my weekend! I only hope that when the time comes I can come up with a snappy comeback of my own. And, sadly, I’m sure there will be a time. There always is.

  9. I don’t even know what I’d say if I were in that situation…truthfully, I’d probably think really hard about sucker-punchin’ that woman.

    Snappy comebacks? Don’t have em. But I hope that if/when I’m in that situation, the gods of snark will shine on me too!

  10. I’ve been practicing a snappy comeback for years but haven’t had the guts to do it.

    My husband and I have been married 12 years with no kids. Some people feel compelled to ask when we are going to start a family. I find this annoying, especially from almost strangers. I heard this line and practiced saying it several times to a mirror but haven’t used it in public yet:

    “We plan on having unprotected sex tonight, actually, but thank you for asking.”

    Should I try it sometime? I’m actually getting the question less often now that I’m about to have my 39th birthday– as some people have decided we are a hopeless case, I guess–so if I’m going to use it, I need to use it soon. :)

    I’ve had plenty of fat comments, but haven’t come up with any good lines in public, but I’ve been practicing one that I saw suggested on this site once “I may be fat, but since you believe I can do something about that, I guess that can change. However, I don’t think you can change the fact that you are a jerk.” Or something to that effect.

    I also saw the blog referenced here and loved it. Commented on it in a different thread. So glad others here saw it too.

  11. “I can stand it because my fat is equalled out by my brains. You, on the other hand…Oh yeah, you have about as much fat as brains. Nevermind.”

  12. phledge — i didn’t mean to come across like i thought you guys all face this on a daily basis. sorry — i sounded a bit naive. what i meant when i said “fat hatred” was the subtle stuff that you said — the “well-meaning” comments. i was considering that as fat hatred too, even though it’s generally not directed at the person in a purposely rude way.

    by the way, for what it’s worth, once when i was having a really shitty time and had lost a bunch of weight, a friend called me out in the middle of a group of people: “look at you, all thin! you lost weight didn’t you! it looks good on you!” yes, the result of miserably counting my calories daily to avoid facing my mental anxiety “looks good” on me. like a pretty dress. i know we’re talking two different experiences here re: “Youlookgreathaveyoulostweight,” but i understand how much it sucks.

    PS: bravo on the barking : )

  13. LOVE that story. LOVE it. And the very last line? (You have to go to the link to see it.) Would have made me snarf if I’d had anything snarfable in my mouth.

    Count me as one who has not heard such snarkoffs IRL since junior high school (when I was merely “chubby”). I have no idea why that is, other than possibly I’m a lot heavier than I “look.”

  14. Oh, such a good comeback. I laughed.

    My best one was at school: these girls two years younger than me used to call my best friend and I lesbians all the time. It didn’t bother us, but they thought it did. One day they walked past me and taunted “Where’s your girlfriend?!?”

    “In the loo,” I said airily as I wandered by. They were convinced they’d got an admission out of me, and I laughed all day over that one.

    I’m sure in the ten years since I’ve not said anything as clever.

  15. That is the best story ever. I love it to death.

    I have told people off aplenty in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever been blessed by the gods of snappy comebacks. I tend to get the white-hot-anger-verbal-explosion thing instead.

  16. Can we make a thread just for snarky comments? I haven’t had to throw one since high school, maybe–but CLEARLY there are still adults out there who will be just as heartless and stupid! The best I could have possibly done would have been to laugh at her, because she just seems so pathetic!–but that line was without equal. TOTALLY.

  17. I’ve had a few comments here and there but most of them have bordered on creepy (like one night, at the grocery store, a guy FOLLOWED ME OUT TO MY CAR telling me how fine my ass was; thankfully, ignoring him did the trick but I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to drop my groceries and make a break for the nearest person in the parking lot). Though, like Rebecca, I’ve dealt with the lesbian rumors most of my life (also the comments about how I look like a man!). I never have anything clever to say though. My BFF and I tend to ignore the people gossiping about us. Time has taught us that those rumors could ruin our friendship and we don’t want that, so we just don’t change and do our best to inspire and encourage one another by being fucking bad asses.

  18. I’ve never had to deal with outright rude comments, but another line in the story gave me an idea… if anyone ever tells me I should be on Atkins, my reply will be, “You should be on Jerry Springer.”

  19. My “quibble” here is that I think it’s not as though among the fat there are no “jerks” — I’m not sure I’ll sign on to the fact that you can tell, just by looking, a “skinny bitch” from a “thin woman.” I think that there are certainly fat women who say nasty things to others. I think that there are annoying, thoughtless people of all sizes.
    That particular annoying, thoughtless person certainly deserved to be responded to in that way.

    On another note, a friend told me that a tampon had accidentally slipped out of her purse and fell onto the floor right in the entrance to her cubicle at work. I thought that maybe we could invent a new game, spin the tampon. Then, I thought, that sounds like something high school boys would say to girls they thought were lesbians, “Hey, what do you do when you’re together — play ‘spin the tampon?'”

    Of course, this might be a very old joke that I just have never heard before.

    I wish I had the courage to wear snarky statements on t-shirts and buttons at work, like, “no, I’m not on a diet.”

    An “I am Kate Harding” shirt underneath my regular work clothes might make me feel like a special kind of superhero, though.

  20. Love the story.

    Last night I unexpectedly attended a party with some associates from all over my state. I stopped by after an hour and 45 minute Nia/dance class, so was feeling glow-y and happy and centered in my body, if still a little sweaty in my empire waisted blouse and wide legged dance pants.

    Waiting in line to refill my wine glass, the woman in front of me balked, slipping multiple level of judgement into one comment saying, “You’re DRINKING when you’re OBVIOUSLY VERY pregnant?” I said, “I’m not pregnant. And yes, I am drinking.” She was horrified, flustered, and sputtered an apology, and I grinned and patted her shoulder before she scooted into the other room. An acquaintance who overheard winced, but I said, “It’s okay. She feels like s*it right now, and I feel awesome. And she clearly meant to say that I was obviously pregnant and TOTALLY HOT.”

    Funny. . .in the same outfit, in a parking lot downtown from a fatherly looking black man in his 50’s, I got a “DAMN, baby. NOW THAT’S what I call bein’ an ATHELETE.” As I swaggered to my car, he told his friend to “check out that back end,” to which his friend chuckled and said, “Yes, ma’am, you DO have a very nice. . .car.”

    Objective beauty standards, my a$$.

  21. wellroundedtype2, I cannot for the life of me imagine where you saw anyone saying “no fat people are ever jerks.”

  22. (adjective describing a physical attribute) + (derogatory term) = bigoted language, in my book. Personally, I would prefer to steer clear of it. The story was great, but the idea that before those words came out of that woman’s mouth, it was possible to tell how she was going to act doesn’t sit well with me. The description of what she was wearing, the type of purse she was carrying, the type of color in her hair, that made for great reading but also perpetuating the idea that what someone looks like can be a good indication of how they will act.
    The way she behaved before she made the comment, sure, that can give some sort of indication. Maybe it’s because I’ve held up a coffee line before trying to decide if I want decaf or two shots or one in my latte, and change my mind about what flavor I want in it 3 times (even if others are behind me in line — it’s a form of intuitive drinking, I suppose).
    Is “skinny bitch” okay, but “fat bitch” isn’t? And aren’t they both people acting badly, not women with a particular body size?

  23. Sadly, I rarely come up with the perfect thing at the perfect moment, though I sometimes do much later–esprit d’escalier, it’s called.

    But my favorite comment about being insulted for my size comes from my husband. Some little twit on a message board was being an ass (about a bunch of things) and mad that he was being called on it, and he started striking out with whatever he could find. Since he’d seen a photo of me, he decided that my weight was a good point of attack, and started referring to me as a manatee.

    My husband, born and raised in south Florida, looked at these comments with great puzzlement, and said, “Manatees are cute and sweet and get to spend their lives swimming around and enjoying themselves. How is that an insult?”

    And that would be a grand example of why I married him.

  24. WRT2, considering there’s now a bestselling book called Skinny Bitch and that the phrase is meant to be an honorific, no, I don’t think they are close to being the same thing.

  25. As my son would put it: PWNED! That is a great story that is getting passed along immediately; as the author said, sometimes the snarky muses are hovering overhead just when we need them.

  26. WRT2, Meowser beat me to the mention of the book, but I would also add that the woman was lording the trait in question (being skinny) over the other woman as part of her being a ‘bitch’. Also, thin is the priviliged state of being in this society. If her ‘bitch’-iness was completely unrelated to her being skinny, and/or if skinniness were not the privileged state, then I’d be more willing to consider it a derogatory term. But it was a key component here, so it’s totally different from calling someone a fat bitch just for being fat at them.

    I typically come up with my wittiest replies after the fact – I’ve faced few public weight-related comments, and my responses usually amounted to something along the line of “yeah, well I can lose weight, but you’ll always be an ass”. The worst experience I’ve ever had was with a man I was (very briefly) dating, when he grabbed my belly and told me to lose it in an intimate situation. My mind and body froze, and only later did I come up with all the witty replies and actions, including slapping him and walking out. I wish I had!

  27. I do see the point — most women to whom the term “skinny bitch” is applied sure don’t mind being called “skinny.”
    I guess skinny + shallow, rude, ignorant + person wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Bitch can imply so much. I think it’s shorthand for woman with an attitude of privilige.
    I liked the story overall, and I guess I’m thin skinned when it comes to the word “bitch.”
    Surprise me cunt, I didn’t realize it bugged me that much!

  28. Considering that the account was written AFTER the author had the experience, clearly she knew the woman was a bitch because of her actions, demeanor and statements. If anyone deserves the name, that woman does.

  29. WRT2, I’ve been called a fat bitch quite a few times, and my response has always been “like that’s a bad thing?” I’m a bitch because I don’t put up with bullshit from others (don’t lie to me, don’t cheat me, don’t be an ass because I will call you on it type bullshit). It took me a lot of years to realize that I didn’t need to let people use me in order to have friends, and I got called a bitch a lot after I learned that ( a former b/f told me one time, when I was fighting back against his abuse, that he didn’t have to put up with that kind of shit from a fat bitch, I told him that fat bitch didn’t have to put up with his shit either and there was the door, don’t let it hit you in the ass on your way out). So to me, being a bitch, thin or fat, isn’t always a bad thing.

  30. I would add that the “bitch” in “skinny bitch” seems to imply something different than “bitch” on its own (a woman who doesn’t let other people walk all over her) — “skinny bitch” means you’re allowed to act haughty and superior and cruelly to other people just because you’re skinny. Because obviously you ARE better than them just because you’re skinny.

  31. Surprise me cunt, I didn’t realize it bugged me that much!

    I believe we’re awarding prizes for the Best Usage of the Pirate Phrase, and I suspect you might be a winner!

    Yeah, I balk at calling people names; I’d much rather call them out on what they do that pisses me off (y’know, kind of a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ type thing) because it addresses the issue at hand as opposed to weakening my legitimate concerns by veiling them in a personal attack. But I fully snorted my tea and broke my brain at how funny this story was and how badly I wish it had been me snapping back at the nasty comment in the coffee line.

    I’m sure most if not all of you know, but for those who are scratching their heads, en flambe in French is roughly translated to “flaming.” Yes, our little pierced barista probably earned hisself a new fruit fly.

  32. Alas the Snark Gods rarely smile at me in those sorts of situations. But I did hear a fabulous story on another fatblog a couple of years back. Whenever somebody yelled something obnoxious at the woman in question, she would walk up to them and ask them if she could shake their hand. They’d usually be so dumbfooted they’d let her – after which she’d thank them politely and tell them it was her life’s ambition to personally shake the hand of every arsehole she encountered.

    I also once saw a fat woman wearing a badge saying, “Gain Weight Now! Ask Me How”, which rather tickled my fancy.

  33. I like “dumbfooted.” — Maybe it’s when someone puts their foot in their own mouth so badly that everyone is left dumbfounded.
    I like the idea of a business card that you could hand out in these situations that said something along the lines of “congratulations, you are an arsehole.” Or “Call 1-800-ASS-HOLE and you’ll be immediately connected to yourself.”

  34. It was a great story, and a wonderful moment of having the come back come to mind immediately not 20 minutes later. But but.

    “If you walk up to a black man and call him that dreaded “n word” or tell him he should be tap dancing and eating fried chicken, you’ll be thought of as a bigot, but if you insult someone’s appearance to their faces in public or tell a fat woman she should be on Atkins, it’s considered “helpful advice.” ”

    That really annoyed me. I generally try to avoid telling people what their live experience is like. As a black woman, I have had white people tell me all kinds of racist bullshit as helpful advice. I’ve been compliment for being so articulate, because most black people aren’t. One of my good friends had a white frat boy at college regularly yell “when are you going to make me some fried chicken?” Something he and his friends thought was *hilarious* I’ve had white women come up to me, touch my hair and make comments about it. Sometimes positive, sometimes weird backhanded things like talking about how they’re surprised my natural hair looks good and not an ugly mess like most afros. I’ve had white women suggest I straighten my hair so it will look neat and well cared for. I’ve had white people ask me about growing up in a city, and in a neglected school system (I grew up in the white suburbs in an excellent school) . Heck, in high school a discussion went on in class about how black people learned to have lots of babies and become welfare queens, except for me of course.

    Racism is alive and kicking, and many people have no problems spouting off that shit. Some of them think they are just telling the truth, keeping it real, or helpful. It’s still a pack of crap.

  35. Julia, thanks for a well-made point. I’ve recently had some experiences that illuminate how much I personally take privilege for granted. I am a white, fairly-well-off woman, so it floors me to think of anyone coming up to me and asking me, “What are you?” as some of my classmates have described from their experiences as Middle Eastern, Hispanic, or Asian people. And yet I also can feel the lack of privilege when someone asks me how I can go to church if I’m Pagan (I attend a UU congregation that I casually refer to as “church”), or how I can identify as bisexual if I’m married, or why I’m not becoming a “real doctor” instead of going to osteopathic medical school. And then there’s the fat. I despise the internal conflict I feel when someone tells me, “You’re really good looking despite your weight,” or “Wow, those new clothes really hide your pudge well,” or even “Oh, STOP, don’t call yourself fat!” I know the intention is pure but there’s obviously a prejudice there that fucks it all up. I definitely feel like I harbor misconceptions at best and prejudices at worst, but I try to be aware of them and expand my understanding of others. It’s a lot of hard work and I wonder how many people are willing to undertake it.

    Wow, end novel. Sorry guys.

  36. In a funny way, if someone were to call me a fat bitch, I would know they were being agressive but I would think it meant I was being tough in a good way. But to me, skinny bitch is reserved for a nasty, mean, disempowering person.

    There’s a lot happening in that story. I think when you are in a place like the bookstore she described, you aren’t expecting “skinny bitches” to dot the landscape the way you would in a place like, say, Nordstrom’s makeup counter. In either place, the comment made by the perpetrator is still unbelievable ignorant and harsh. I think that’s a person whose inner editor has long since quit the job.

    I have my defenses up when I’m around anyone, skinny or fat, who puts lots of time into her appearance — mostly because I don’t. I love nice clothes but don’t often wear them, and I never wear makeup because of my skin/allergies. I colored my hair for the first time at the age of 37. I am generally distrusting of women who could come across as “stuck up bitches,” be they fat or thin. I really have to work not to distance, judge or otherwise assume that women who put plenty of time and money into their clothes, makeup, hair are not automatically going to say mean and ignorant things to me, or otherwise ostracise me. There’s someone I work with who fits this stereotype so well — very pretty, thin, put together, gorgeous outfits, hair, purse, makeup, expensive jewelery, nails, etc. And she can certainly be tough. But she works very hard to make sure that women who couldn’t otherwise afford them can get mamograms or pap tests. So I don’t think she’s a skinny bitch, she’s doing good things and I don’t hear ignorant comments about weight coming out of her mouth even in situations where she could make them.
    It’s my issue. Got a tissue?

  37. Racism is alive and kicking, and many people have no problems spouting off that shit. Some of them think they are just telling the truth, keeping it real, or helpful. It’s still a pack of crap.

    Sadly, yes. Just because something is unthinkably gross doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all the time. Sigh.

    Also:

    Surprise me cunt, I didn’t realize it bugged me that much!

    This made me laugh for a good three minutes and I have no idea why.

  38. If you walk up to a black man and call him that dreaded “n word” or tell him he should be tap dancing and eating fried chicken, you’ll be thought of as a bigot, but if you insult someone’s appearance to their faces in public or tell a fat woman she should be on Atkins, it’s considered “helpful advice

    A better way to put it might be: “A person who would never dream of calling a black man the n-word or telling him he should be tap dancing and eating fried chicken would still think nothing of insulting a fat woman’s appearance to her face or telling her she should be on Atkins.” Because it’s not that racist shit doesn’t still happen all the time, it’s that even people who are very anti-racist still feel comfortable being prejudiced against fat people. And that’s not to say I think anti-fat prejudice is worse than racism, I definately don’t think that’s true and I don’t think it’s useful to compare in any case. It’s just frustrating that so few of even our allies on the left recognise anti-fat discrimination as a real and damaging form of prejudice.

  39. Y’know, WRT2, I think I have that same problem. Honestly. I think I’ve nursed a grudge since junior high towards females who put a great deal of time, effort, and value into outward appearance. I don’t consciously address it in my dealings with women and perhaps I should, seeing as that it’s just as much a prejudice as assuming that fat people are lazy. Thank you for expressing that–your resistance toward “skinny bitch” is much clearer (to me, anyway).

    See? My brain can haz learning.

  40. Word up, Julia, and that part annoyed me too — generally, saying “nobody would say this type of thing to a black person” is like wearing a sign saying “ask me about my privilege.” I understand why the comparison is appealing to those who haven’t experienced the insidious racism that exists even in groups that would never be overtly racist, but it’s just not valid. Thanks for expressing why so well.

  41. Argh, the god’s of snark have never looked down on me in situations like this!

    Its been a really long time since some one has said something like that to me, and I hope to never experience such again. My mom told me to just say, “I can lose weight but you’ll always be a jerk.” but a rehearsed line like that doesn’t always roll off the tongue well.

  42. My mom told me to just say, “I can lose weight but you’ll always be a jerk.” but a rehearsed line like that doesn’t always roll off the tongue well.

    It deinitely wouldn’t work for me… I’d be all “I can lose weight but you’ll always be a jerk… but I don’t really want to lose weight… and you probably don’t want to stop being a jerk… so… carry on…”

  43. The “I can lose weight, but…” one wouldn’t work for me. It would be more like, “I could maybe lose weight, but it wouldn’t stay off, and it wouldn’t be enough to make you like me, so why should I bother?”

  44. Julia, thanks for calling out that part of the story; it stands out like a sore thumb and also papers over the way that even people who think “but I’m not racist!” not racist can perpetuate racism.

    generally, saying “nobody would say this type of thing to a black person” is like wearing a sign saying “ask me about my privilege.”

    *snort* I think we need to make those buttons and hand them out to people who earn them.

  45. As for the Skinny Bitch – that took me aback too, since obviously size acceptance is about just that. But since Dianne was calling the vile perpetrator that name after the incident, it’s understandable that in her very justifiable anger she referred to her in that way. But I also don’t like the use of the word bitch in that context…feminists are working hard to reclaim that word from meaning something really negative to meaning someone who is empowered and true to herself.

    So, overall, I’d prefer the term “Nasty Individual” or “Hideous Fucktard” because those words don’t refer to body type or gender….and yet, “Skinny Bitch” is pretty recognizable to us and carries a real impact in the story.

    All that aside, her comeback kicked some freakin’ ass.

  46. You know, Denise, you might want to consider whether a permutation of “tard” is really as neutral as you think it is.

    And Julia, add my thanks to the list. I did have a problem with that paragraph when I read it, which is a big part of why I didn’t post this right away myself. But I should have at least pointed that out earlier in the thread.

  47. You know what I find rather interesting? I don’t mind calling people names that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Like douchehound, or fuckwit. But I’m kind of uncomfortable calling someone something based on a reality, like, well, like skinny bitch or brainless twat. I can’t really explain it.

  48. I was once traveling by coach bus and was insulted by the woman sitting next to me.

    I was one of the last people to get on the bus so there were only a few seats left. In fact, I think I was the last person and there was only one seat left. Now, bus seats aren’t exactly known to be roomy and these had arm rests also so it wasn’t like I could sit partially out in the aisle if I wanted to.

    I’m polite, quiet, and I smell awesome but I am fat, no two ways around it, so on the bus most people would rather sit beside the smelly crazy man than the friendly fat girl minding her own business.

    So there I was, sitting beside an older lady, probably in her 70s, although her age doesn’t really matter, does it? About 30 minutes into our journey she turned to me and said “I didn’t notice your size when you sat down”, as if to say “I wouldn’t have “let” you sit here fatty if I had noticed”.

    A little shocked at this statement – what had I done besides sit on a bus seat I had paid for?- I mumbled something like an apology -yes, I apologized TO HER. I kick myself for not replying, “I didn’t notice when I sat down how rude you were!”, but instead I sat there for the remainder of the journey covered in shame and, no doubt, resolved to go on a diet as soon as I got home.

  49. generally, saying “nobody would say this type of thing to a black person” is like wearing a sign saying “ask me about my privilege.”

    “Nobody” is shorthand for “nobody in the white liberal circles I’m most familiar with,” of course, and “this type of thing” is shorthand for “something this overt.” It’s probably not so much that she doesn’t know racism exists, so much as blatant racism is rare in her sub-subculture and can expect to be called out when it does rear its ugly head, whereas people feel free to snark off as loudly as they want to on fat people and can typically expect not to get called out for it ever.

    You probably wouldn’t have to travel more than a hundred miles from Austin, though, to find people who would NOT be shy about making overtly racist comments anywhere and anytime, and you’ll see plenty of covertly racist behavior regardless of how goody-two-shoes you think your friends are, if you’re paying attention.

  50. Good story, but then you get comments like this:

    “I’m fat so I expect people are going to make comments. And you know what, I don’t really blame them too much. I really dont think most people are trying to be malicious. Screw PC, and that includes being all on eggshells around fat people. Big deal, we’re fat. Nobody is perfect. The skinny lady probably had a yeast infection.”

    “Adam” at the other blog.

    Since we’re fat, we don’t deserve basic respect in public!!

  51. Becky yes to your rephrase
    A better way to put it might be: “A person who would never dream of calling a black man the n-word or telling him he should be tap dancing and eating fried chicken would still think nothing of insulting a fat woman’s appearance to her face or telling her she should be on Atkins.”

    And yes it is frustrating when people who seem like they should be our allies in fat acceptance, end up not getting it. It’s simliar to the frustration of seeing people getting the fat acceptance and not noticing their white privilege, for example.

    Sweetmachine, fillyjonk and Kate thanks for picking up on that paragraph. Sometimes the ways in which fat acceptance advocates make comparisons to race make my head explode. Because fatness is not the last acceptable prejudice. Not by a fucking long shot. The more that fat acceptance people remind others to not do the stupid thing, the more welcoming fat acceptance becomes. Sometimes I get frustrated reading the FA blogosphere because it’s just so darn white, and usually doesn’t seem to notice that. Like everyone’s most important identify is as fat which ignores the intersectionality of identities. I can’t separate my fatness from my racial identity, gender, sexual orientation and class. I’m a fat mixed race queer middle class chick who is involved with sci-fi fandom and grew up in the suburbs. All those things affect how I view my fatness, how I’ve experienced it, and how others react to it.

    That isn’t to say anyone’s experience is better, or that it negates someone else’s. It’s just that. Well, to be honest when I wanted to get a date for my high school prom, not being white was more of a hurdle than being fat. When I went to gym, my fatness followed by my gender were the more relevant issues.

    Stuff. Things. I really strongly believe that we don’t need to tear others down to bring ourselves up. And I know most of the Shapelings think that way as well.

  52. I’m glad I got my own blog, so I can do my own snappy responses to stupid questions now!

    Please check it out, I would like some feedback on how I’m doing!

    (I’m referring to my previous comment about “Adam,” btw)

  53. Wow. This is crazy timing.

    I think I’ve only ever had a stranger say something about my weight four times in my entire life, and the fourth one was yesterday.

    You won’t believe what it was, either. Piggy. More than once.

    Isn’t that bizarre???? What grown person calls another person “Piggy?” Well, my landlord’s sister would be a grown person that does that.

    Mind you, I haven’t spoken to this woman in three years, since the very first week we moved in here and she called me a “cunt.” I have looked past her, and completely ignored her ever since. And it’s driven her nuts.

    So yesterday, she was mad because she had to move her tons and tons stuff out of the garage that *I* rent because I needed access to my car. She hid, and had her mom ring my doorbell to ask what time I would need the car by. When I said “eleven,” this woman jumped out and started yelling that she couldn’t have her stuff moved by then, I was going to have to do this on her terms, and what the hell did I need my car for anyway as it didn’t have a smog sticker.

    I told her I would only talk to her mom, not her, and she called me “Piggy,” as in “that’s just too bad, Piggy, because you’re going to have to talk to me on this.”

    I looked at her and at her mom, and then I raised my eyebrows and laughed.

    “That’s right, Piggy,” she said. So I shook my head and rolled my eyes, and tried to go back to talking to her mom.

    “Roll your eyes, that’s right, that’s all you ever do is roll your eyes, Piggy,” and then she kept talking some stream-of-consciousness bullshit, because yes, you guessed it the woman is crazy.

    So I really had no idea what to do, and no gods of any kind were smiling on me, except for the fact that I selfishly enjoy being considered way more traditionally pretty than she is, which is nothing except it allows me for some reason to act really graceful around her when she’s being a nutcase. It’s some weird thing where she is SO bizarre, that I am the most normal together person in the world around her.

    And I just said, “You know, Enedia, you weigh the same as I do.” And I turned to her mom and shook my head and said “she weighs the same as I do, …?” Then the mom turned and said something in spanish, and I said something about needing to have the car by 11 the next morning, and then I went inside.

    It was seriously, SO WEIRD and oddly hilarious to me. I really don’t think anyone can offend me with that kind of comment anymore.

  54. Oh yeah, and one more thing!

    Don’t forget the tag-line-come-comeback that came up on BFB about a month ago (in the english translation of a german news story about the fatosphere):

    “Some people are thick. Point.”

  55. Julia, this:
    I really strongly believe that we don’t need to tear others down to bring ourselves up.
    is what I was trying to say. Thank you.

    Part of what resonates about this story is that I know, as a fat (short, white, Jewish, frizzy/curly haired, PCOS-having with some facial hair issues) woman, some people are thinking nasty things about me, and the vast majority of the time, they don’t say them.

    That’s what the blinking in disbelief in the story was about.

    But I can’t assume that other people don’t get stuff said to their face more often from bigoted people and those who have no idea how what they are saying is coming across.

    I was taking a midday walk with a (thin) colleague last year when carload of teen boys from the high school down the street actually yelled “fat bitch” out the car window. It was unbelievable on some level, but I was on another level glad that it wasn’t something theoretical, that the colleage could see that while I was out engaging in exercise, this shit actually does happen.

    I know that this blog’s authors and the majority of posters are really fast thinkers, but I need to mull things over, you know? So when you all talk about thin privilidge, I need some time to unpack what that means, and how it connects to race/ethnicity, class, sexual identity, gender, and the whole “beauty” enchilada.

  56. Don’t know if I can say that the Snark Gods were smiling on me tonight, but maybe the Annoyance Demons were.

    After the store that I work in closed for the night, I was waiting by the door to let back in the coworker who was taking her stuff to her car. While I was doing that, another coworker (who is fat) and my supervising manager (who is thin) were having a conversation about how bad fat women look in revealing clothes. My manager was talking about how she thought miniskirts were ugly on anybody, but especially on fat people, and they were both gossiping about women who “spilled over” their clothes.

    Right when I heard enough, I raised both my arms over my head and shouted “I WEAR MINISKIRTS!” Then I preceded to keeping shouting, usually in a sing-song voice “Miniskiiiirts!” and “I wear miniskirts!” while my coworkers were doing whatever they were doing, while I let the other coworker back in the store, while I was grabbing my stuff to leave (what can I say, I’m a Gen Y-er, iz not profesionulz). At one point, I was asked how short my miniskirts were, so I gave an evil little grin, and started skipping, making sure I jiggled everything that could be jiggled. As I was leaving, I shouted a final “I wear miniskirts!” and then gave out the crazy/evil laugh I usually give whenever I’m being subversive at work.

    Don’t worry though, we usually have a playful environment at my store, and people think I’m weird anyway. Though I do need to buy a new miniskirt.

  57. Good Gord! I’d have made that hairdresser eat her frickin curling iron, I can’t imagine sitting there and letting her continue to touch you while she’s being so odious, let alone get paid to be that disgusting.

    The “how do you stand it” thing was fantastic. I’d have said “I have a lot of sex, that seems to help.” (Or “I smack stupid people when I feel down.”)

  58. Thanks, Kate, for pointing out that the ‘tard reference is not innocuous. This string of comments has been fascinating, in the way it’s revealed several times how easy it is to view a particular comment as innocuous, while others feel diminished by it (or resentful of it).

    I think it all boils down to not knowing what you don’t know. If a particular trait or condition or state of being has never affected you personally, you don’t realize how others are affected by it. Part of the “privilege” we all need to understand is the privilege of being ignorant of others’ experiences.

    My son is on the autistic spectrum. To a lot of people, that’s his defining trait. To his family, that’s just one of the many things that makes him so awesome. He plays on a Special Olympics team that is made up of other kids on the spectrum, kids with Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Tourette’s, and some other cognitive or neurological differences that I can’t identify by looking. When I hear anything with “tard” in it, I no longer have the privilege of hearing an innocuous, amusing insult — I hear a word that could be used as a weapong against Will and Daniel and Molly and Jack and Jillian and Caleb and all the other kids and adults whose brains or chromosomes or whatever are wired atypically.

    Before my consciousness was raised, so to speak, I was first in line for making short-bus jokes. I undoubtedly still have some blind spots myself. But until I’m bumped out of my privileged ignorance, I won’t know what they are.

  59. oh what a wonderful story!!! it’s too perfect!

    I can give you the snappy comeback I thought up too late once…

    I was at university, crossing an empty square on campus, minding my own business. Some jerk on a balcony I hadn’t even noticed shouts down at me “Hey, weightwatchers is *that* way”.

    In a perfect world, I’d have retorted “oh yeah? Well AA is that way”. and of course he’d have come back at me “i’m not an alcoholic”, which would have handed me my trump line… “who said anything about alcohol, asshole?”

    In the world as it was, of course, I said nothing, and hurried away, and was quietly miserable for the next however many days. and have not forgotten the comment, still, 16 years later.

  60. Yeah, you know, I’ve often made comments about “nut jobs” and “the looney bin.” Of course, I myself am a “nut job” who has actually been in the “looney bin,” so I tell myself it’s not such a terrible thing for me to say it. Am I wrong? (I keep thinking of all those Monty Python bits I’m not allowed to laugh at anymore, if I am.)

  61. I thought the “en flambe” meant she thought the barista was hot! :)

    I don’t think there’s ever been a time the snark gods smiled on me at the right moment. Mine are chronically late. Although I just thought of a comeback that I have to try and remember: “If your IQ were anywhere close to my weight, you’d come up with better insults!”

    I’m privileged in mostly not having had to deal with those kind of outright comments. I’m not sure why, unless it’s that I don’t get out much and am pretty oblivious when I do. The kind that really bother me are the ones where it’s not clear that you can do a comeback, like when someone starts griping about their weight and being on a diet directly to you in hopes that you’ll agree and suddenly see the light about being fat or whatever. I try to say things like “Well, if you just stop overthinking it all the time it wouldn’t be so hard to figure out what to eat”, but that never sinks in with them.

  62. Hee! Now I want to run around yelling “MINISKIRTS! MINISKIRTS! MINISKIRTS!!!”

    But it’s really cold outside right now.

  63. WRT2, phledge, I have exactly that same problem, and I can pinpoint where it came from. It’s been my misfortune to know several women who treated me like shit but who – because they had ‘model’ type looks and I was the fat geek girl – assumed I was just jealous of them for being pretty. I still see this assumption around – comments recently online where people were saying anyone protesting about the prevalence of size zero models ‘must be a jealous fatty’ – but it’s taken me a long time to realize that, on a personal level, not every conventionally attractive woman I meet really thinks this way.

    As for comebacks, that one was utterly priceless. Last time I got something that left me momentarily foxed – an out-of-the-blue ‘You’ve got really thick thighs’ from my mother during a lull in the conversation – I just muttered something about people’s thighs coming in different sizes. If she brings it up again, I’m working on a story about training for the world coconut-cracking championships.

  64. Is it bad that I’m writing these comebacks down for future reference?

    I’m thinking I’ll make a brochure to keep in my bag for times when the Snark Gods leave me to my own devices.

  65. Is it bad that I’m writing these comebacks down for future reference?

    I hope not beacuse my pen is already twitching! I have never been blessed by those snarky gods of NON-hindsighted comebacks. I’m the woman who will think of the BEST response about…oh 2 hours to 3 DAYS later after having obsessed about whatever incident. (Probably not mentally healthy, eh?) ;)

    That said though; the worst comments I can remember getting are from my bio-dad. The most recent (for which I acutally FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER had a comeback) was when we both happened to be at a funeral. For HIS father.

    All he could think about was coming up to me and at a time of great mourning he looks at my stomach, SLAPS it and says “So when can I expect the baby??” I looked at him, slapped HIS stomach (which is no tiny paunch in and of itself) and replied “Why? Are you pregnant?”

    Not great I think but considering a life of silence around this jerk I thought it was great.

    It is just hard for me, who would much rather WRITE since I can re-read and edit everything before it touches other eyes, to SAY what I mean QUICKLY. I’ve always envied others the ability to use their brain so rapidly to put others back in the place they were trying to squish you with negative comments…

    Oh and I LOVE the comment about wearing a button “You can gain weight too, ask me how” but sadly we know that you can’t gain weight above your set point easily anymore than you can lose it…but maybe something like “You can be happy too, ask me how diets don’t work.” Hmmm

    Anyways…keep them coming! *continues writing*

  66. Loving this thread! Excuse the threadjack, but I wanted y’all to know that the subway question in “Miss Conduct” was published today, here:
    http://tinyurl.com/23lqg3.

    Letters (from Shapely Prose readers and other) are on my website, above. Carry on, and thank you all so much!

  67. I don’t get comments about my size, I think because as well as being fat, I also look mean.

    But my best non-fat-related comback was about 10 years ago. I was at a nightclub and a drunken toss-bag says to me “hey, sit on my face”. My response was “why? is your nose bigger than your dick?”. I have no idea where I pulled that one from, and I have never been so cuttingly clever since! But I enjoyed the look on his face, not to mention his friends sprawled over the floor laughing!

    Ang.

  68. “Now tell me honestly: have you EVER tasted anything DIET in your life?”

    “Well, I lost 160 pounds eating someone who looked *exactly* like you, but he tasted like shit!

    Stupid Shit!

    I had to have my stomach pumped at the sewage plant!

    Glad yer ok now, though….got any baby donuts?”

  69. the whole privilege-pointing out thing already happened, so, aside from that, yay!

    i too tend to get shocked into silence by rude comments (more for my aversion to razors and brassieres than teh fat these days) and think up something witty, or at least assertive, days later.

    though if anyone does make a fat-negative comment towards me, i intend to flash them. yeah, i’m destined for trouble…

  70. I like dumbfooted, buffpuff, that’s like when you’re so dumbfounded and dumbstruck, yer feets don’t work!

  71. Dang, you guys. It just shows how we can be so into our own stuff that we don’t even realize that our own words are hurtful…Kate, you are absolutely right about “tard”, what the hell was I thinking? And Kate’s sister, I’m very sorry for my unthinking choice of words. I don’t know, maybe name-calling is never such a hot idea?

  72. My best snarky comeback was fairly recently-

    Someone had the audacity to call me “Fat Dyke” really loudly on the bus. To which I turned around and loudly replied “Oh- Are we having a state the obvious contest, Little Dick? I win.” Quite a few guffaws because no one could believe I called him on his shit.

  73. I always guessed that “fucktard” came from “bastard”. Ack. I won’t be saying that any more. :(

  74. Divajean I LOVE that comeback. Made me laugh :D Good to know SOME of us fatties are getting the final word in, even if some of us can’t yet :)

  75. Once when I was in a small town for a small while, a group of boys started to call me Jaba the Hutt. I let it go for a while until I thought my head was going to explode. So I FINALLY got my courage up and cornered them at a public event.

    I told them that I may be fat, but at least I had ambition and drive and I was going to end up somewhere, they were lazy assholes stuck in a small town who were going to end up working at the truck stop. I then pointed out that I’d rather be fat and pretty than thin and looking like an eighties reject.

    It was probably the one and only time I was ever cutting and clever.

  76. I really don’t think that I have ever had anyone I don’t make any sort of comment about the size or shape of my body. (Thank God) Until this Saturday, and I’m not really sure what to make of it… so I’ll ask youz guys.

    I was out with the boy, lookin’ fine sitting at a bar when somebody tapped my shoulder. I turned around and it was some drunk girl who looked really embarassed and said “Oh, I’m so sorry, I thought you were a friend of mine, she has a dress like that and the same voluptuous figure as you”

    At the moment… well I was focused on a grey goose martini so I really didn’t think much of it. But the more I think about it the more I wonder if that was kind of backhanded of her to mention my figure at all… like, was that really relevant? On the other hand, I only have positive connotations of the term “voluptuous” although not everyone does, so there’s that.

    Anyways, what say you shapelings? Was I insulted or was some drunk girl at a bar stumbling over her own lips?

  77. My take on it. Lexy, is that she is one of those folks who stumbles around the word fat. And she was probably just comparing your shape to her friends.

  78. This is on the opposite end of the spectrum, I guess, but I was at dinner with friends where everyone else got desserty-things…brownie cake, sundae pie, whatever. I really wanted something more substantial and dinnery, though, so I got a cobb salad (y’know, with turkey and bacon and cheese and eggs).

    This girl scoffed at me from across the table, said “And he’s over there eating a salad like an ANOREXIC!”

    I started laughing and said hey! I actually just got out of the hospital for that, how’d you know?? She didn’t believe me at first, but then turned so many shades of red…

  79. Aw thanks *G*

    I left out the best part too, when I cornered them one of their mothers was near by and over heard. She was a shapely woman as well and so one of the lads had the joy of having me on one side and his mother on the other ripping him a new one. I wonder if he learned the lesson, I hope he did.

  80. DivaJean: “My best snarky comeback was fairly recently-

    Someone had the audacity to call me “Fat Dyke” really loudly on the bus. To which I turned around and loudly replied “Oh- Are we having a state the obvious contest, Little Dick? I win.” Quite a few guffaws because no one could believe I called him on his shit.”

    That? Is awesome. I’m so remembering that one. In addition to the awesome OP of course lol. Great stuff in here. Best *I* could do was when a co-worker was going on and on and on about how fat and disgusting she is (she’s size 14, 5’8″ and 60 yrs old but looks 40) and how she darn it just likes to eat and doesn’t know what to do, I said, all astonished like, “I KNOW! And if you don’t eat, you DIE. I can’t imagine why you can’t just STOP!?” Not to be mean, but to bring her up short – I mean she’s size 14 and disgusting…has she noticed who she’s talking to? Hello? Sitting right here?

  81. Pingback: the politics of fat « the politics of fear

  82. On the whole “skinny bitch” thing: my take is there are certain types of persons out there. On the one hand, there are thin women, who may or may not be aware of the privilege they’re buying into, but who don’t purposefully attempt to make life difficult for those who aren’t thin (at least, not any worse than the existing culture does). Then there are the Skinny Bitches, who are not only aware of their privilege, but tend to regard it as a badge of honour and an entitlement: because they are thin, they are entitled to be as rude as they like to anyone who isn’t thin; because they are thin they’re entitled to the attention of every man in the room, whether or not the man is partnered or indeed heterosexual; because they are thin, they are entitled never to be called on their behaviour, but rather deferred to like goddesses. They’re the type of person Cynthia Heimel described as “professional girls” back in the eighties – the ones who have not only bought into the status quo, but will fight vehemently against any atttempt to alter it.

    As for responses to insults, I figure my best bet is just two words: “I’m sorry?”

    Said in the correct tone (absolute and utter stunned amazement), it implies the following:

    1) I cannot believe I just heard you correctly;
    2) I cannot believe you just said that aloud, in public; and
    3) I cannot believe you were allowed out in public without a keeper.

  83. People can be vile. I was cycling one day and a group of young lads drove past and shouted ‘fat bitch’ at me.
    I’d like to say that I gave a witty comeback, but I just cried for 3 days.
    Some time later (and a size 8) some guy leaned out of his car window and shouted ‘fat arse’. I flipped him my middle finger…
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  84. Coming to this thread late after a weekend away – you are ALL very clever! I never know what to say to someone who’s insulted me. I’m usually much too busy burning up with embarrasment / shaking with poorly controlled compressed rage …

    A few years back some random woman got pissed off at my husband and I for a boring reason. Anyway, she flipped and screamed at me, “You’re fat and your boyfriend is ugly!”

    I was mortified (especially as she actually followed me down the street to my office, continually yelling me how fat I am!) but after the fact I thought it was interesting that she picked my weight and my husband’s looks to insult. Like some sort of instinctive knowledge of what would hurt each gender most. Although, my husband was totally immune, because he’s hot and he knows it :)

    In hindsight, nothing clever about this, but I wish I had just stood calmly and said, “What the hell is wrong with you? Can you hear how ignorant you sound?” or even just, “Feel better now? Got that tantrum all out of your system?”

    I did, though, once tell a well-meaning but overjealous gym personal trainer who tried to explain to me in sincere and meaningful tones that salad = good and candy = bad, that I could absolutely guarantee that every fat person he ever met, including me, knew more about the calorie values and relative so-called ‘goodness’ of any food than his bony ass ever would. He took it on the chin, bless him – hopefully he had an after-school special moment and learned a little something. :)

  85. Pingback: Privilege. « Four Humours

  86. Cara said: “…an after-school special moment…”

    Sorry, I’ve been sitting here reading all of these posts (several days late, I know) and silently going “Yeah! You tell ‘em! You rock!” And then I got to yours and I started laughing out loud. That so completely tickled me! (And you paired it with a “bless him”! Only thing better would have been a “bless his little heart”!)

  87. My best ever comeback was to a snotty wee kid in the changing rooms at the gym. Can I just point out that he was indeed old enough to know better. Anyhoo, said child pointed to me and my friend in the showers and shouted “Two Fat Ladies!!!”, of course whilst we were both in our swim suits. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he then walks up to me and asks, in his best snotty kid voice, why I am so fat. To which I replied “Because I eat too many children”.

  88. “Oh- Are we having a state the obvious contest, Little Dick? I win.”

    DivaJean, I hope you won’t mind if I use this when/if the occasion merits. Dorothy Parker would be proud of you.

  89. This thread is such a comfort to me. I thought I was the only one that attracted rude comments.

    The only time I’ve been successful in coming back with a smart remark was one prepared by a good friend of mine in advance. I ‘m a bit of a loner, happy without a man but my cousins who all got married to their high school sweethearts can’t quite get their heads around this. They think it is odd. Anyway at this family gathering as predicted my cousin asked me where my “boyfriend” was knowing full well it would embarrass me. But I turned, smiled sweetly and replied “he’s with his wife & kids tonight”.

    My cousin still said it tthe next time we met and now I just sigh and say him to him, you know what you ask me that all the time.
    Six months later his wife left him.

    I’ve been called a dog etc from teenage boys, but it’s never been in such a way that I can pin them down and confront them. It’s sort of been under the breath stuff. But one day I will turn and ask them why they called me that, would they want their mother or sister harrassed in such a way, and if they’ve looked at themselves lately. I think most of the time these people are not called up on it, relying on the notion that the victim is so mortified and embarrassed that they won’t get a rebuttal, and (wrongly) think they are smart in front of their friends.

    I often wonder what these youths think when they are older, whether they realise they were cruel dickheads.

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