She meant well. I know she did. The little body builder/personal trainer chick at the gym could not have possibly meant any harm when she approached me sporting waist-length wavy brown hair under a drill sergeant’s cap. I was headed to the shower room after running 6.2 miles on the treadmill and was admittedly distracted, basking in the glow of my own awesomeness while Corrine Bailey Ray encouraged me to put my records on. I popped one earbud out when I realized she was talking to me.
“You’re doing really great, you know,” she said, nodding in that almost condescending teacherly way that I usually do.
“You’re darn skippy I am,” was dancing on the tip of my tongue, but since I actually do have home training (despite any testimony to the contrary) I handed her a courteous, “Thank you!” instead, along with a gracious smile and went to walk past her into the shower room.
When someone tries to walk around me, I take it as a cue that they are moving on to the next thing. Moving on. Catch you later. Not this chick. My physical cue that our conversation was over did not deter her.
“It’s your diet you know,” she said matter-of-factly. She just put it out there like she'd been watching me eat every day for the last few weeks. For a split second I was confused, then I remembered that I am NOT Oprah so there are no poparazzi following me around and reporting on everything I put in my mouth. There was not confusion here. I knew exactly what she meant, morphing my "Excuse me?" to "Ex-squeeze me?" in less than a moment.
I didn’t say it. I didn't say anything, but I know I didn’t have to. Having no poker face most of my thoughts are written right across my forehead in neat, legible handwriting. She would have to have been illiterate to miss how offended I was. Apparently she could read because what followed next was,
“I mean, I see you working really hard in here so it must be what you're eating.”
Continued silence from me.
“Stop by and talk to me some time. We can work up a meal plan.”
My home training may have automatically had me deliver some polite response such as, “Sure! Thank you!,” but I don’t remember. What I do remember is seething about this through my shower, getting dressed, and the whole drive to work. How dare she? I’m fat. I get it. You look at me and assume that I eat cheeseburgers and feed my children McMeals from drive-through windows. But that, my friend, is an assumption. Once you’re an adult you’re supposed to realize that you can’t just assume that everyone fits into the nice, neat categories you’ve built. All Asian people are not good at Math. All Black people cannot dance. All fat people do not eat junk, and all skinny people are not healthy. So if she thinks I’m going to pay her to judge me she has another thing coming!
Time passes. Tempers cool. I run into wavy-haired trainer chick, this time in the shower room rather than outside of it. She shows me her taped in hair extensions by way of an ice breaker while I packed up my shower things. They *were* pretty sweet. Not my cup of tea, but cool anyway. And before the goodwill of the hair conversation died down, she offered an apology of sorts.
“I’m sorry if I came off the wrong way the other day.”
This should be interesting. I’m listening. With ears tainted by decades of anti-fat bias, but listening nonetheless.
“I wasn’t trying to get you to pay me or anything. I just see you working in here really hard and you’re getting results on your own, but I know a lot of people are not aware of how their blood type effects how they process and metabolize food. I have a client in here who I’ve helped lose 200.4 pounds in the last 14 months. What’s your blood type?”
“O+,” I said, but I only half listened to what she said next. My own guilt was ringing too loudly in my ears for me to catch it all. Sure, she had been making assumptions about me that turned out to be false. But it turns out that what I assumed she was assuming was wrong, too. At the end of her spiel about my needing to eat more red meat and fewer red beans to work in harmony with my blood type, I took her card—graciously—and apologized for being brusque before. When I got to my office, I sent her an e-mail as she requested.
A free meal plan never hurt anyone.