Friday Feels: You Deserve to Take Up Space

Friday Feels: You Deserve to Take Up Space: A lesson and rant in standing your ground and knowing you are worth the effort.

For the last couple of years, I have been conducting a permanent experiment called "I get to take up space and I'm not apologizing for it".  People get mad, especially men, but I don't care anymore.  As a fat person, I have to force people into mildly treating me like I am an actual human being that exists.  It isn't always easy, but I love doing it.  I love treating myself as more than an apology.  And you deserve the same treatment too.

Friday Feels: You Deserve to Take Up Space: A lesson and rant in standing your ground and knowing you are worth the effort.

Today I feel like a little rant and brain dump is in order.  Sometimes I put off doing a Friday Feels because I want things I share to have a positive spin, and I can't always find that silver lining.  As we all know, life isn't all sunshine and rainbows.  Sometimes problems don't get solved.  Sometimes there is no one answer. Sometimes you just have to get things off your chest to feel better.

For my entire life, I've been one of those apologetic fat people that is constantly sorry for taking up so much space.  I mean, that's the type of obedient fatty society wants us to be - lose weight and apologize for how much space you are taking up until then - unless you are a woman.  Then you should keep on apologizing for everything under the sun.  *insert eye roll*  As a little girl, and a fat one at that, raised in the South, I was constantly apologizing for something.  Too fat? Sorry.  Too loud? Sorry.  Too smart? So sorry.  Too observant? Sorry.  Too opinionated? Super sorry.  In fact, I made sure I was quiet and never spoke my mind so I wouldn't get in trouble.  My parents said that because I was a child and a female, my opinion didn't matter.  I didn't even know how to trust most of my opinions until later on in life.  I've talked about my upbringing before on the blog, but I was always made to feel like I was too much and never enough all at once.  It's maddening and it still affects me to this day.

I've long observed how women feel the need to apologize.  I still have to stop myself from doing it on occasion.  It is a habit that gets formed and is really hard to stop.  So many of us are taught, or come to feel, like we aren't worthy of time or happiness or doing what we want or taking up space or asking for something.  We don't feel like we deserve those things.  But I need to remind you that you DO deserve those things, and you ARE worthy.

I'm not sure the moment it clicked for me that I was being overly polite and going out of my way to move my body to accommodate others.  The very act itself was an apology about my larger body.  There was this shame in taking up more space than the people around me.  I've always been very polite and obedient and kind to people.  Moving out of the way, saying excuse me, and even apologizing were all things I did because I thought I was being nice.  I also thought being obedient and smart and overly nice would somehow make up for the fact that my body was so large.  I lived my life as a walking apology.  Somewhere along the way, I realized that being nice is great, but what I was doing was really detrimental to my soul and unfair to myself as a human being.  I hated that feeling and I vowed to stop.

Not to say you shouldn't be polite.  There are plenty of ways to be a nice person and still exert your right to take up space.  I like to be observant about what is happening around me, but I no longer move just because I feel like I'm in the way.  It already feels like everyone at the grocery store thinks I'm definitely in their way anyway.  If I was focusing on what I felt from others, I would be constantly moving around.  I'm exhausted as it is.  So now, people are forced to say excuse me if they need me to move.  EGADS!  Can you imagine?  They now have to have manners and use them.  *insert another eye roll*

Now normally, they don't say anything.  When someone does actually politely ask me to move, I am delighted.  People seem to be rude and mannerless in general this day and age.  What they normally do is brush up against me with an attitude and act like they never saw me.  They run into me and never apologize or look me in the eyes.  But I still take up my space.  And if someone is in my way, I politely say "excuse me" so they will move.

How we feel in these moments varies depending on our personalities.  For me, practicing taking up my space can feel incredibly assertive and confrontational.  I hate confrontation, but standing my ground is important to me.  It can also feel awkward and uncomfortable to you and the people who expect you to shrink away.  I say, good!  Being out of your comfort zone allows you to grow; and maybe that same awkward, uncomfortable feeling will help the other person learn.  Changing your behavior is not easy.  It's tough.  You may not do it every time, but keep going.  The more you practice, the easier it will get.  You have to commit to it and remind yourself that you are worth the metaphorical fight.

Walking down a sidewalk or other walkway is also a good time to practice taking up your space.  Before, I might have gotten completely off the walkway, pretended I was doing something that allowed me to stop and move out of the way, or some other such nonsense.  I would acquiesce to these strangers because I didn't think I deserved to take up space or "bother" anyone.  So now, I take up my half of the walkway and make sure whoever is coming the opposite way has an equal amount of the walkway, though they be substantially smaller than I.  Sometimes I make eye contact and smile. Sometimes I look straight ahead and keep walking.  And you know what happens?  Nine times out of ten, they still expect me to move out of the way.  They wait until the last minute to get over.  Guess what?  Sean is usually with me and when someone is coming he gets behind me. Why? Because we have manners and common sense.  But nine times out of ten, the two people coming are set on walking side by side.  They expect me to move, especially if they are male or thin white women.  They will look at me angrily when I don't move far off to the side.  Sometimes I literally have to stop and stand my ground before they actually pass me single file.  And sometimes they try to smoosh in the middle and brush past me rudely.  It doesn't just happen in the USA.  It's happened to me in Canada.  It happened to me in Scotland.  It literally happens everywhere all the time because society has taught us that fat people aren't of value.

In Scotland, I was on a very wide walkway, taking up about two feet of the edge as I walked along.  A group of five people walking side by side was coming towards me.  I wasn't going to move.  They can get behind the other in order to pass me, ya know, like a normal human being should.  Oh no, these people couldn't understand why I wasn't moving out of the way.  (And by the way, the only place I could move to was a very small shoulder of a hill that slid down into a stream. I literally had no where to go but stay in my lane)  At the very last minute, one of them angrily got behind another so they could all pass me, brushing up against me in the process.  AND THEN KEPT ON BEING  FIVE PEOPLE SIDE BY SIDE.  I took a photo of their dumbasses.

Friday Feels: You Deserve to Take Up Space: A lesson and rant in standing your ground and knowing you are worth the effort.

Though a completely different situation, my stance was then put to the test at the end of July when I attended a Backstreet Boys concert of all places.  I've told the whole story on social media, so I won't rehash it all here.  What happened was this:

I was in the general admission pit in front of the main stage.  Two drunk girls left to go get more drinks before the show even started.  Once the concert began, I moved against the stage where I wanted to be.  When these two girls came back, they were livid I was "in their way" because they don't understand how general admission works.  They were both thin and there was plenty of room for both of them in the space next to me.  They just didn't want me there.  They were drunk and entitled and proceeded to do everything they felt they could do to get me to leave.  They harassed me. They pushed me. They waved their hands in my face. They spilled a drink on me and acted dumb when I confronted them about it.  They screamed at me and called me a bitch.  I knew who they were and what they were trying to do from jump.  They felt if they bullied me enough, I would be upset and cower and go away.  They saw my fat body and just assumed I would be apologizing for it and feel shame enough to cater to whatever they wanted.  They never planned for a confident fat person.  They never planned for an even-tempered grown ass woman that would try to reason with them before she went to security.  It was the ultimate test of standing my ground for me.  And I did it.  I tried to be nice, even as I was covered in their cold ass vodka drink.  I told them we all wanted the same things - we paid money to be here and we wanted to enjoy the show.  But they both screamed at me about how I was such a bitch.  So I politely found a security guard and they both got kicked out.  One of them was also underage and completely wasted, I found out later.  I took up space, I handled the situation, and I still enjoyed that concert.

Friday Feels: You Deserve to Take Up Space: A lesson and rant in standing your ground and knowing you are worth the effort.
Me, enjoying the BSB show despite crappy drunk girls, a wet shirt, and their crusted alcohol drink in my hair.

My point was to get this off my chest, acknowledge the steps I am taking to change my behavior, and tell you about the tests I have been put through and how I've handled them as I've tried to work on myself.  More importantly though, I want you to know that you are capable and worth the effort it takes to be fully you, to take up all your space, to navigate this world in a kind way that still has you standing up for yourself.  Be happily you, in all your glory, and don't entertain anyone else's bullshit!

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