You might want to listen to Lou Reed's mighty Street Hassle whilst you are reading this. Multimedia experience!
Until this week I was under the mistaken belief that I rarely if ever got street hassle these days for being fat because I exude rad fatty confidence. It used to happen in the past, but not now.
This is a ridiculous belief because it carries an assumption that the kind of creeps who try to get in your face are able to make a distinction between fat people's relative levels of self-confidence. It also supports a blame-the-victim mentality: crushed by fatphobia in the street? It's your own fault, you should be stronger! I think confidence can help, but it can also make you a target, and really, the kinds of people who say horrible things to you, or spit at you, or whatever are likely to do this no matter what you do to avoid it.
Anyway, my self-delusion about street hassle was challenged this week because I've been the target in two incidents. Just now a 'phobe/narrow fuck rode at Kay and I on his bike and demanded we get out of his way, with a bit of added fatty-bashing name-calling. We were too surprised to block his way and shove him off his bicycle, which is a terrible shame.
The other incident took place last week. I noticed a guy wanting to get our attention as I walked with C to Stratford Station, and on the way back he spotted me again and made a beeline for me. I thought he was a christian trying to convert me, that happens a lot in that part of my neighbourhood, but no, he had some flyers for some kind of weight loss thing he was selling and wanted to give me one. He looked desperate and I guess he was zoning in on any fat person that walked past, lucky them. I kept walking and said no, but I was shocked by the intrusion, concerned about how it might affect other people, and eaten up with unrealised revenge fantasies as I walked home. I felt interfered with when I had done nothing to invite it. It didn't ruin my day, but it was an irritation.
So I'm wondering why this has happened now, after a long period, years, where I have either had little street hassle, or where I haven't even noticed or remembered it happening. Is this one of the effects of the Global Obesity EpidemicTM? Maybe the moral panic around fat makes people feel okay about being arseholes. Have other readers of this blog noticed any changes in the kind and level of street hassle you deal with? Might it correlate with the fat panic epidemic?
It made me think of how I deal with this kind of interference. I ignore it as much as I can because I think those who do it are trying to get a rise out of you and I don't want to play that game. On other occasions, where I've been with other fatties, we've been able to laugh and ridicule the harasser Chubster-style, which is pretty satisfying. I remember reading about a guy who agreed with the harassers when they yelled at him in the street, like: "I'm a fat bastard? Yes, thanks, I am!" I like that, responding to hatred with humour. What are your strategies?