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Dear Thin Friend,
I want to talk to you about what it feels like for me when we go out to eat, since I know our experiences are really different. Dining out and exploring a new restaurant may feel casual, though it certainly doesn’t feel that way for me. There are so many factors to consider when taking a super fat to a new place. And I want to go! I really do. I can’t wait to accompany you at that new hole-in-the-wall cafe where they say the scones are to die for. But first, lets talk about what goes through my mind when we try a new place.
“What is the seating like?” This is likely my first question. Are there booths or tables? Assuming the booths are too small for my glorious belly, I’ll need a table with chairs. Unless the tables of the booths are movable, which is a toss up because sometimes they are directly connected to the wall and I do not want to have to squeeze myself in. I still haven’t gone back to Red Robin after the embarrassment of cramming myself into a booth only to find I couldn’t breathe and had to relocate.
Oh, there are tables. Great. But how are the chairs? Are they sturdy? Or is there a chance of the chair breaking like that time at the pool with my family and friends where the plastic lawn chair crumbled beneath me? I’d like to feel secure. My thighs and ankles need rest after I had to put most of my body weight on them while seated at the last restaurant we went to, where the chairs were unreliable.
Can I even move through the restaurant? How tightly packed are the tables? Are the aisles roomy? Will my hips and rolls be brushing by people’s faces as I am lead to my seat? I would be mortified if I end up knocking over chairs and drinks on my way to our table.
The bathrooms. Is it a onesie? Or are there multiple stalls? Is there an accessible stall or are they all so tiny that my shoulders touch the walls? Can I reach the toilet paper underneath the dispenser or is it so tightly lodged between my thigh and the wall that its just a lost cause? Do I have to straddle the toilet in order to close and latch the door? Perhaps I’ll just wait for the bathroom until I get home.
Facing General Judgement
I must be seated around the edges of the establishment. I wont be able to concentrate on spending time with you if we are sitting in the center of the restaurant. The truth is no matter where I go, people will stare at me. Sometimes they try to keep their judgments to themselves so they’ll look away when I’ve caught them. Other times they just have fun with it and gawk. It’s not unheard of for people to take photos to mock me with their friends. Lets reduce the chances of this happening by finding comfortable seating on the boarder if possible.
Just Straight Up Eating
Being fat and eating in public is a risk in itself. Being a confident fatty and enjoying food in public is actually radical. I know that people look at me and believe I should quit eating altogether. But their judgment is trivial and harmful. It encourages shame and disordered eating for fat folks and I won’t stand for it. I’ll continue to eat and nourish my body in whatever manner I choose. But I want you to know that I am acutely aware of how people will see me. I’m not sure if this has ever crossed your mind.
My hope is that you’ll help me in this. I know you care about me and want me to feel safe and have a fun time with you. Now that you know all of the potential issues that flood my mind when asked to go somewhere new, will you help minimize them? Can you check into the venue beforehand? Will you be able to park closely so that the walk isn’t too tiresome for me? Can you commit to taking the burden off of me when asking for accessible and comfortable seating?
These establishments were made with your body in mind – not mine. So, I need your thin privilege and ally-ship on my side. I need you to advocate for me in times when I am so tired of having to worry about all of these factors on my own. I wish for the anxiety to be minimal.
Can you do this for me? Can you help me feel safe to explore the world with you?
A Super Fat