But You Wear It So Well
I think as women, we often find ourselves in situations where we end up comforting people after they have said something that makes the conversation uncomfortable. I mean, how many times have you said – “Oh no -that’s okay. You’re fine ... ” or “don’t worry about it … ”
I know that in both my personal and professional life I am constantly taking on some type of comforter or caretaker role in a way that can silence or minimize how I really feel about a topic or situation. At the Beautifull Project, we want to help and support women in taking up space – this should include conversations.
Recently, I was having drinks with some very dear friends. These are MY PEOPLE. Folks that get me. Folks that know me – the real me. My authentic self.
It was at the beginning of the year, and of course, the topic of new year’s resolutions came up. My friends talked about that night being their last night to eat unhealthy before they went on their diet. They talked about how much weight they had gained, and subsequently, how much they wanted to lose, how they were proposing to do it, etc.
I was still basking in post-partum “I don’t give a shit how big I am – I am keeping a human being alive with my body” mode. This is usually a glorious mode for me to be in. However, I have my days of doubt and thinking I need to be dieting in order to get back to my pre-baby weight.
Well, that particular night, I was in full “don’t give a shit mode.” I listened to them and supported them and then made a comment that went something like this:
“As the largest person at this table, I just want to say that you all look great, and I love you just the way you are.”
To that, my friend responded, “There’s no way you weigh more than me.” He is a man. A tall man - probably 6’ 2” or so - and a medium build. With all of the confidence of my post-partum “I don’t give a shit mode,” I looked him the eye and said, “Really? I weigh 230lbs right now. I can almost guarantee I am the largest person here.” His reaction - I am sure you can all picture it ...
First – the look of utter and complete shock, that he quickly tried to contain.
Then, the dreaded phrase that I just knew was coming next - “But you wear it so well.”
I just sat there and smiled. He proceeded to dig himself a deeper hole, “No really, I would have never guessed you weighed that much. Wow.”
Now remember, he is one of MY PEOPLE. So I knew he was coming from a place of love, and I didn’t want him to feel bad. So I know the words were well-intentioned, but they were words he was saying to make himself feel better for his own reaction. I am sure he thought what he was saying was making me feel better – again, he was well-intentioned.
My response to knowing he felt bad was to further comfort him. I believe I said, “Thank you. Yes, I know I wear it well.” I could tell he was still uncomfortable. “It’s okay. No worries. I am fine.”
I mainly said these things because he is my friend, but also because as a woman, and as a woman in a larger body, I often try to make people feel better. I think many women do this, and in those moments we shrink ourselves, our voices, our feelings – to make room for others to be comfortable.
Now, I don’t have the magic answer to fixing this deep-seeded desire to make others around me comfortable at all times. However, I think calling it out, naming it, making space to recognize this happens all of the time, in a variety of situations, is a GREAT start.
I mean, how different would that conversation have gone if I simply sat there looking at him, not responding, not comforting him, and allowed him to feel his discomfort without saving him. We both would have had an equal amount of space in that moment to feel all of the feelings.
Friends – take up the space you need, in the time and places you need it. It may be uncomfortable at first, but we have to start somewhere.