Last week I went into a local pizza place to pick up a pizza for Hubby and me for dinner. I had worked all day, then gone to the gym to exercise, so it was finally dinnertime, and I was miserably hungry. Usually when I’m hungry, I’m grumpy and/or mean and/or sick to my stomach, depending on the circumstances. On this particular night, my hunger brought out one of my very worst personal qualities, one that I try to keep tempered, but that does rear its ugly head more often than I’d wish. This very bad quality is that I am sometimes—when I don’t check myself before the damage is done–very judgmental of other people, usually based on little or no substantive information about them. Dumb, huh?! I hate other people like this, and I’m one of the worst offenders I know! I’m such a hypocrite.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s my confession.
I had called and ordered my pizza for carry out (or “takeaway,” as they say in Ireland), so I just had to pick it up. As I walked up to the pizza storefront, I vaguely noticed a little girl, about 6 or 7 years old, kicking the tires of a minivan outside the pizza place. It was a messy snowy/slushy/icy day in Minnesota, one of those days when the gunk on the roadways gets stuck between your car tires and the body of your car. When enough of this crap piles up around your tires, you actually can’t steer your car as well, and it freezes later and makes noise as it rubs against your tires. So, OK, a little girl was kicking the slush off the wheel wells of a car. I hardly noticed her at the time. In my unconscious I probably noticed what I would normally perceive to be a noisy, annoying little kid and that’s about it.
I walked into the pizza place and had to wait for the cashier to help me. (Grumpy Me wasn’t happy, but remained calm.) A large woman was waiting in line in front of me. And at one point she started laughing and she turned to me, pointed out the window at the little kid kicking the tires, and said, “Oh! Isn’t she cute!? That’s my daughter. Look at her little cheeks! They’re chubby, look at those little chubby cheeks jiggling while she kicks the snow off the car!”
I looked out the window of the shop. The little girl was still kicking the tires. And what I now noticed, since my attention was drawn to her, is that this little girl was a very large little girl. This was not a chunky or big-boned child. This was an obese child. And her obese mother, waiting inside for pizza, thought it was funny that her daughter’s “chubby” cheeks were jiggling while she got what appeared to be the most exercise she’d gotten in awhile.
It speaks to a few things:
1) I am sometimes judgmental, bordering on cruel, and I wouldn’t blog about my horridness if my posts weren’t mostly anonymous.
2) The little girl was having a super fun time kicking tires. She might really enjoy exercising if her parents made it happen.
3) Parents love their kids and enjoy seeing them having fun. Nothing wrong with that.
4) For the mother of this child, obesity seemed to be the norm, so she probably didn’t even see her child as fat. It’s a pity if you ask me.
1) I’m a jerk. Yes, I am. I couldn’t just look out the window and see a cute little kid with jiggly fat cheeks laughing. What the hell is wrong with me?
2) In my opinion, parents with fat children should be concerned, and should not be taking their children out for pizza, and also should not be laughing at their children’s “cute” fatness. Fat children are not cute, they are forming habits that may last them the rest of their lives, and someday I could be paying for their obesity-related heart attack, high cholesterol, stroke, weight-loss surgery, etc. As we if we don’t all have enough health problems without bringing them on ourselves!
3) We can talk about the obesity epidemic all we want, but I’m not sure the message reaches the right people.
4) Finally, I truly respect and appreciate the overweight people at my gym, for whom it is difficult to exercise, and yet they still try. It’s the beginning of the year and there are some new members around. I am always rooting for them in my mind because I know how difficult it is to get my own ass to the gym when I am relatively in good shape. There are two members of my gym, a man and a woman, who have each lost about 40 pounds this year through exercising and changing their lifestyle. I’ve talked to them both from time to time, and they have both told me how GOOD they feel. You should see their smiles. I remember when the young man exclaimed to me out of the blue, about 6 months ago, “I lost twelve pounds!” I was thrilled to see him so motivated!
5) On average, most Americans love to eat, watch TV, work, drive big cars, shop online, and look at their iPhones. Right? Anecdotal evidence aside, it’s no surprise that we are such a fat bunch of people. We’ve signed up, and built our lifestyles, to become the beasts that we are.