Sometimes it's a good job I don't carry a weapon.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

So yesterday, between school and club netball tournaments, I dashed into town with Rose and a little friend to get some blood-sucky girls' fetish books and a staid Diana Mitford collection for old me. We had 30 minutes in hand so they asked for hot chocolate. The lady piled on marshmallow and squirty cream and I had to go back to the counter for spoons and a million napkins. While I was up there, in came a larg-ish lady about my age with two teenage girls.

As she passed Rose and Annabel, she wagged a finger between them. 'Naughty, naughty.' They looked at her, bemused, then stuck their noses back into the dark gothic tales. I followed her to her table. 'Is there a problem?' She did a great big 'what, ME?' face. 'I'm with those girls over there.'

'Ah.' She smiled - 'All those calories...'

I was dumbstruck. 'Not that it's any of your business, but they've just done two hours of netball and they're about to do another three. They're eleven years old. I cannot believe you think it's appropriate to chastise two little girls, who you don't even know, for enjoying a hot chocolate. Do you even read the papers...'

Her smile grew frigid. My voice trailed off. I snapped shut my mouth and went back to the table. The girls didn't even look up. I was shaking with anger.

I woke up at 4 a.m. still furious and thinking of all the things I wish I had said.

However, today we have taken the dog for a very very long walk, painted a coffee table for the library and thrown away a ton of clutter and I have a little perspective. Another hour painting and listening to Lisa Hannigan's ethereal Sea Sew and I might even let the Colonel change the subject.


  1. I feel your rage and understand your inability to "just let it go" as the Doc says to me.

    I was at a 40th birthday party last night and a very large woman was squashed into gaudy pink satin: her shoes had been kicked off, she couldn't move, so her husband had to bring her a plate of profiteroles and chocolate sauce. Oh how would I have delighted in going up to her and saying "naughty naughty".

  2. And you would have been most justified in so doing, even stepping hard on her fat bare toes. But not if she were a pink-cheeked vampire-loving schoolgirl.

    Is that all the input the Doc gives you? Let it go?? Does he not know that women's anger can be chemically managed? Drink????

  3. I was bulemic for several years in my very early 20's. As such, I feel I have a right to rage at these things. Being female in most of the world means that to stay within a range of weight we have to resist food that's always at hand. But better to be happy than thin. Talking to someone else's girl children is unconscionable. The problem exists, but how our kids feel about it depends on how we, the older women role models, present the issue. She had no right.

  4. OH if it were me, overweight middle aged, almost grammy sitting there stuffing my face with said chocky and cream it might have been justified but GIRLS? What the **** was she thinking? Who gave her to right to BLURT? She should have checked her thoughts at the door, bad form indeed...Karma will take care of her.
    You remind me of myself a few years back, maternal instincts are powerful and when we feel our kidlets are in danger we see RED! I am happy that there was no weapon nearby, the tongue however can be used with great deft!
    Enjoy putting that energy toward something that is productive, and remember to breathe!

  5. Ladies - thank you for immediately understanding exactly why it was so wrong on so may levels. I spend my life wincing as my friends moan on and on about their bodies in front of their daughters, who are then of course passing on those same insecurities to their peers.

    I once watched a group of men beat a girl of about 12 with sticks because they could see her hair. There are regimes who want our daughters to cover themselves up and feel shame at their beautiful blossoming selves.

    I think that we are perpetuating a similar crime right here and now by sending these messages of shame and self-hatred.

    If you're not happy with how you look, eat less and get off your arse. I know of course that it's not always that easy, but on the other hand, we women are our own worst enemies and that silly sod yesterday is exactly the sort who'll be the first to cop it come the revolution.

    LPC - EDs are beyond hijus, you are both brave and right.

    Hostess, love word grammy. And in front of her own daughters too.

    Thank you for not making me feel like I am on my own in this fight.

  6. Once I was in a shop with one of my children (I forget which) in their push-chair. They were finishing off some chips they'd had as a treat while I browsed, and for some reason the owner of the shop saw fit to approach me and say with a nod towards my child, 'What would Jamie say eh?'

    I was speechless, and then frustrated half an hour later when of course I could think of a million appropriate put-downs.

    The bare faced cheek of it!

  7. How ridiculous to even mention calories when speaking of children! they spend them by running around like little devils all day; and what an unbelievable lack of good sense and proof of ignorance to make children feel guilty about food and their bodies at a time in their life when they need positive reenforcement and security. Good for you for going to tell her just what you thought! and I can completely understand your feeling of anger and frustration towards that total idiot! bravo!

  8. And Hostess, she wouldn't have been justified saying anything to you, either. It is rude to comment to ANYONE about what he or she is eating. To ANYONE!

  9. I don't know why people feel entitled to say what they want to people they don't even know. My son, who is now almost 16, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2. He was bald through the first half of his chemo. My husband, as a sign of support, shaved his head too. A lady came up to him in the grocery store and said it was cruel that we shave our son's head to look like dad. My husband had no problem letting her know it was the other way around and why. He said she turned several shades of red and just walked off.

    I would have been upset just like you if a stranger said something to my child. You had every right to be upset. It was none of her business.

  10. You are of course absolutely right. You should give this misguided soul my email and I will explain why she should fear you!

  11. I'm sure that the woman in question and her two daughters were drinking black coffee only?

    As a teen ager, I was a bottomless pit and quite fit to boot. Calories burn, as does quiet anger. Good for you sticking up for the kids!

  12. Some people have no shame, no sense of propriety and certainly no manners. I am in awe at your considered response as I would have been struck dumb with inaction. There again I don't have daughters so there's no knowing what my maternal instict might have prompted me to do - I'd like to imagaine a large cup of chocolate with marshmallows being poured slowly onto her head. Not a cultured response to the situation but one which would have been highly satisfactory...

  13. 'Oh how would I have delighted in going up to her and saying "naughty naughty".
    "And you would have been most justified in so doing, even stepping hard on her fat bare toes."

    Honestly? that was just as deplorable as what the woman said to your daughter! Both were thoughtless and unkind. What did that woman at the birthday party do but sit there eating her dessert? Now if SHE had the nerve to chastise your daughter, fine, answer her in kind. I would never tolerate anyone speaking to my child that way. But I would never attack a total stranger who was not the cause of the distress. Be kind ladies, be kind.

  14. Thank you for speaking out! Having struggled to keep my weight up for several years as a result of poor health I can assure anyone and everyone being thin is every bit as unattractive, uncomfortable and difficult to dress as being obsese.
    PS - Diana Mitford staid? No more staid than you manage to be I reckon...

  15. Silly bitch ... is she trying to save the Planet from obesity?
    I admit that I mutter under my breath in supermarket queues when I see really gross people with trollies full of c**p (1000 calories per mouthful) but I would never dream of saying anything to them - after all, we do still a few very small choices in this world.
    And I am a total wimp.

  16. To you all - a huge thank you for your interesting, honest and passionate responses - I love reading them and have my faith restored!

    I am pretty sure that my erudite readers know the difference between an in-person bit of potentially dangerous impertinence and some ether-based steam-letting, but in case not, thank you for your very thoughtful comment, anon 1!

  17. I've picked up your rage and I'm running with it. I cannot believe it (!)

    I have two very slender friends each one has a daughter who is not as slim as they are. Both of these women destroyed their relationships with their daughters by nagging them constantly about their weight. The comments and suggestions of diets started when they were about 13ish. Apparently the mothers saw their reflections in their off-spring. Their daughters, now thin by their own choice, have never forgiven them.

    Cherie has been in her sickbed with a bug and is now worried about your weekend wardrobe. Then, Cherie, ever the realist said to herself: A woman who wears a bikini and looks like Cate Blanchett most certainly has something fab in her closet.

    How about a straight skirt and a turtleneck sweater and she'll get back to you? Opaque tights, boots or low heels. Earrings. Bright coat. Invite Cherie into your armoire and all your troubles will fly away.

    Hmmmmph, still furious.

  18. I like your style. I came over on Tintin's recommendation & have gafawed shamelessly in a quiet office twice now. Thank you.


Please leave a comment if you can be remotely bothered - anything you have to say is valuable and I absolutely love hearing from you all. Elizabeth