A Dude’s Guide To Fat Shaming In NYC
By Jonas Barnes
Okay, I have to get a couple of things out of the way before we can really get into this. First: I’m a guy writing about fat shaming. Calm down and breathe. Catch your breath yet? Good.
Second: I’ve been fat literally since birth. I was a fat fucking baby. I weighed 11lbs and some amount of ounces that don’t matter because 11 pounds! I feel partially responsible for my mother’s multiple back surgeries. Now that those things are out of the way and you know where I’m coming from, we can continue.
About 3 1/2 years ago, I moved to NYC with my much more physically attractive girlfriend to embark on a life of stand up comedy filled with riches and the fruits of our hard work. We got a shared apartment in NJ and frequent overdraft charges but so much more exposure and stage time. Exposure is the word I want to focus on here, though. NYC is full of people. Too many people, to be honest. They’re everywhere and you are constantly exposed when you’re in NYC. Exposed to elements, dangers, sounds and most importantly: Judgment. Don’t believe me? Watch the catcalling videos and, I dunno, anything on TV or film that shows NYC. The arts don’t lie when they show NYC as an aggressive place.
We moved from a place full of happy, non-judgmental (unless you happen to misgender someone) people that accepted everyone regardless of the way they looked. The Pacific Northwest has its fair share of shitty aspects but I’ll say that it’s high on the body positivity front.
The place I grew up in was a small town in Eastern Washington called Yakima. Yakima is where my family is and where I will always call home. It’s also a shitty little meth filled town full of backwoods assholes that LOVED seeing a fat man walk down the street SO much that they couldn’t wait to let me know over and over again how fat I was.
Sometimes they even got so excited about my weight that they had to stop yelling long enough to punch their excitement into me.
Yakima made me suicidal, even though they failed to realize I’d clearly been eating myself to death since birth. I was trying, you fucking assholes! Fat people don’t do things quickly, give me time! SPOILER ALERT: I never committed suicide. Either that or you’re reading a ghosts fat shaming article and you need to hallucinate better.
Fast forward to now, and I’m living in NJ, even though I refuse to admit it because I still say I live in NYC. Moving here, I expected a lot of things. I expected it to be tough, rushed, new, exciting and so many other things. I expected my comedy to get better (it did), more opportunities to present themselves (they have) and my self-confidence to get a boost. Let’s talk about that last one, shall we? I’m in NYC almost daily and I am on stage weekly. Confidence is a huge part of being on stage and, when I’m under the lights, I’m as confident as could be. Not a care in the world. My balls could be out and all I’d care about is the draft throwing off my timing. That’s my stage life.
But I wanna talk about the other 95% of my day. I get “fat shamed” (that phrase makes me gag as much as it does you, don’t worry) on a daily basis here. People don’t give the slightest fuck about your feelings in NYC. They have places to be and their own problems to deal with. But believe me, I see and hear it every single day that I step foot into that menagerie of consumerism.
Whether it’s the slightest “fat ass” comment when I’m not fast enough on the subway platform or the delightful drunk guy on the subway that said I was a “fat motherfucker” when I had to sit down between two people, making one of them scoot over, I hear this shit all the time.
It’s as common as my morning vitamins at this point. I usually make a joke because crying is unmanly (fuck you, it isn’t) and assault is frowned upon (totally is). For example, when the drunk guy called me a fat motherfucker, this was the exchange:
Him: “Goddamn, you fat motherfucker”
Me: “Oh my god, you’re black! (in a surprised tone)”
Him: “What the fuck you mean by that!?”
Me: “I’m sorry, I just thought we were saying obvious things.”
Him: “Hahaha, you alright man. Sorry about that.”
It ended nicely! But it happens so much that I can’t joke every time. I’d be late to everything if I stopped each person that made some shitty sideways comment about my weight every day. Seriously, could you imagine how much more annoying I’d be if I stopped you after a comment about my man tits to make a joke about it with you? You’d want to kill me. Plus I’d waste all my time stopping 20-30 people a day to do it.
And as much as I write, I’m afraid I’d run out of material. And the trend is brosephs and drunk guys. Occasionally women but almost never gym rats. I thought that was odd at first. but I think its because they know its tough. They know that health takes work, time and isn’t easy.
Polo Bro doesn’t know that. He’s got a shitty hand-me-down personality and probably hasn’t worked much in his life. And drunk guy is…drunk. Can’t fault him for that. The sauce makes you an asshole sometimes. Oh, I almost forgot my favorite shamer: The Earbud People! Ah yes, the ones so blissfully unaware of their surroundings that they make some shit comment about my belly out loud without realizing it, usually prompting me to motion for them to remove their EDM blasting buds just long enough for me to say “Your personality is shittier than my gut. Carry on.” leaving them to their day, feeling bad about what they said.
Here’s what sucks about all this: Nobody sees it. There are so many people entrenched in their own lives that it’s missed. I see and hear it because it’s directed at me. But my own girlfriend was clueless as to this phenomena that I deal with every single day. Luckily, I’m developing a thicker skin to it, I’m working on myself a lot, I’m making progress on my health and people that actually see me often comment about my weight loss. So there is a balance. And I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to the loose skin shaming I get once these luscious tits leave my body. I know I can count on you for that, NYC!