|Small Cookies by Petr Kratochvil|
One of the un-fun side-effects of my drugs which I get fairly frequently is dizziness. And one of the very few ways I have to mitigate that dizziness is to eat something whenever it occurs. And it is for that reason that I keep my desk stocked with various little pre-packaged non-perishable snacks: tiny packets of cookies and chips, and anything else sweet-or-salty that will hit my system hard and fast when the alternative is slumping over while the world spins gaily around my head.
I've been doing this for a fairly long time, and I cannot count the number of times this habit has amazed my co-workers when they happen to see inside my desk drawers. "You keep food in your desk?!?" is the typical conversation-opener, stated in the same tone as I would expect from someone asking about a live garter snake in my drawer. I will then confirm, with a little puzzled furrow of my brow and a polite little smile on my face, that yes, I do. "Oh, you are SO much stronger than I am," they will usually exclaim, as if I've just broken down a steel door with my bare hands or metamorphosed into a green body-builder wearing purple underwear. "I can't keep food in MY desk; I'd eat it all up in a day!"
I don't really understand this framing since there's a constantly-stocked "pay-what-you-like" snack table mere feet away from where I sit now, so one might think that if simple food proximity were a Thing, then that open-air table would be as equally problematic as food residing inside one's desk. But I also accept that different people have different bodies and that my body issues are not universal. At the same time, though, I'm not really sure how to handle a 'compliment' which is presented as congratulating me for restraint and yet somehow seems to be less about complimenting me and more about criticizing them. At the very least, I don't feel comfortable agreeing at that point and I mostly just want to get out of the conversation. (Not the least reason because having my disability be a jumping-off point for implied self-shaming makes me feel very uncomfortable.)
Some -- not all -- people manage to make this conversation even more uncomfortable, however, by implying that this Eating Of All The Snacks is something universal, and that it therefore is something I must do, and that furthermore this very clearly explains why I am fat. (For fatness must always be a Mystery in need of a solution. I cannot simply Be Fat Just Because. There must be a Reason.) And so now my disability is being used as a jumping-off point for my shaming -- I am an Irresponsible Fattie with so little self-control that I keep snacks in my desk so that I can secretly eat incessantly without interruption and (because the food is 'hidden' in my desk rather than in my lunch bag) without detection.
Ha! YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD US FOOLED, FATTIE.
And for the record, I really wish people would stop doing this. Draping an accusation in a fake compliment doesn't actually mitigate the fat hatred, and assuming that everyone's bodies work the way you'd expect them to doesn't minimize the disablism.