Tag Archives: staircase wit

All the Comebacks We’ll Never Say

TRIGGER WARNING: I’m going to talk about verbal abuse.

So I don’t know if you got a chance to see this, but it’s pretty awesome. Chelsea Handler lays a stupid kind of mean spirited fat joke on Andy Richter and BOOM, he comes back with an amazing zinger that not only puts Chelsea in her place, but gets Conan laughing his fool head off. If you haven’t clicked on the video click at the top of the page yet, go click it. I’ll wait.

See??? BOOM! I mean, don’t you wish you could come back like this when somebody says something mean or stupid or obliquely snide to you about the size of your body? I wish I could. Usually I do, in my head, 20 minutes later. In the moment however, I don’t often come up with something wonderful and witty to say. I guess now, even after it’s happened to me and all my friends and colleagues so many times, I am still surprised. Afterwards I’m not surprised at all. But in the moment, especially when a complete stranger decides to comment on my body, there’s often that moment of shock. I’m not talking about when people make rude comments to each other about me so I can hear them, or make obnoxious mooing sounds, or shout things across the street. I’m talking about when people confront me directly and say mean, stupid or downright horrible things. There is still a moment of shock. Still a feeling of violation. I feel it in my body like a punch to the gut. And often I’m standing there, mouth flapping open and closed like a recently caught fish wondering WHY a person who doesn’t know me, who has no reason to hate me just threw verbal poo at my head. Sometimes I am able to recover sufficiently to say something reasonably intelligent, and sometimes I just walk away shaking my head. But it’s safe to say, I’m almost never as quick on my feet as good old Andy Richter up there.

Now I am a professional speaker. I have had extensive training in speaking off the cuff. I’ve studied improvisational theater. So I often feel I should have been come up with something witty to say. And so the verbal beating I have taken from a complete stranger is often followed by me beating myself up for not handling the situation better. I find myself, after the fact, reliving the confrontation, calculating and discarding dozens of “comebacks” or “burns” I should have used and feeling battered and miserable.

I’m telling you this because I want you to know. I want to share that even though I’ve been in the space of body love and size acceptance for decades, and even though I’ve been in public debates and had speech training and have given literally hundreds of public talks, I don’t always have a witty comeback when somebody publicly attacks me. I’m telling you this because I am trying to learn to focus my anger where it belongs–not at myself for failing to “burn” somebody who is mean to me, but at the person who was being mean to me! I tell you this, because you may be one of the millions of other people in this world who do not have a witty comeback ready when somebody is mean to you. And I want you to know that’s okay. We all love the fact that Andy Richter can come back at Chelsea that way. We cheer because he does something we all wish we could do in the moment that somebody is mean to us–execute the perfect, 10-point, sustained audience laughter burn. But I want to suggest that we can appreciate Andy’s talent while at the same time relieving ourselves of the responsibility to be him.  And I want to suggest that maybe instead of beating ourselves up for not being funny in the face of cruelty, we should focus our anger outwards and self care and love inwards.  Just a thought.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Sit Down Piggy

Look, I captured a (feline) bully.

“Sit down piggy.  You just sit yourself down you fat b@#$ch!”  My mouth hung open as I heard these words leveled at me at a local restaurant. I asked, “Excuse me?  What did you say?” and the tirade went on and on.  Seriously.  They called me piggy and fat b!@#ch over and over again. Apparently these two young mothers (apparently sisters) didn’t have a whole lot of interesting things to say.  (Frankly, I’ve faced more creative bullying from 8-year-old kids.)  So, not knowing anything about me, they grasped at the one insult they felt sure would leave me dejected and destroyed.  But it didn’t quite work.  Neither dejected nor destroyed, I simply stood my ground, and looked at them and asked, “What is the matter with you people?”
I could go into a long drawn out story about how we got to this moment.  Two birthday parties right next to one another in a very crowded restaurant.  We could hash out details about  who gave whom a dirty look and which children were running amok.  And so on.  And so on.  But I can tell you that after everyone else in their party had left, and on their way out the door these two women, walked by our table and said, “I hope you enjoy your party, you b$#ches!”  Which led me to walk up to them and say, “Excuse me?”.  Thus launching them into the tiresome and oh so repetitive “fat piggy” tirade.

Like so many of us, I had a severe attack of staircase wit afterwards.  I thought of 1,000 things I wish I had said about the wonderful example they were setting for their darling children, the fact that they were willing to go to unbelievable lengths to avoid taking any personal responsibility for anything, and their astonishing lack of creativity in the playground taunting department.  But you know what I really wish?  I wish I had recorded them on my camera phone.  I wish I could save that moment and share it with the world.  I wish I could show others exactly what people of size put up with every day.  Because I know this happens every day.

In this particular situation, I knew I was headed into a minefield.  I was confronting someone who had bullied me.  But so often, while minding our own business, walking down the street, shopping at a grocery store or riding a bike, we face bullying and teasing and harsh words for no reason at all.  We are mooed at.  We have people comment about the contents of our plates or our shopping carts.  We have insults hurled at us from speeding cars.  And I could go on and on about the unspeakably horrible things people leave in the comments sections of our pages and blogs and online profiles.  Those of us who are fat, know this.  We know that abuse happens all the time.  And it happens to nearly all of us at one time or another.

But many folks who are average sized or thin, do not know about this abuse.  They have no idea what fat people go through.  I suspect many of them would be horrified if they saw this behavior.  And I think if they saw this with their own eyes on a blog or on YouTube, some of them just might choose to rally behind us fatties.

So the next time this happens, I hope I have the presence of mind to channel my inner documentary filmmaker, pull out my cell phone and record that nonsense for posterity.  I’ll let the world see the ugliness these bullies throw down.  Future bullies had just better watch out.  They may become an unwitting star in my big fat reality show.

And if you just happen to capture on your cell phone some video of the bullies being nasty, closed minded and possibly not very creative towards you, could you send me a link the video?  Just send the link to jeanette@thefatchick.com and put “I captured a bully” in the subject line.  I’m putting together a little project called “capture the bullies” to shine a light on this ongoing hateful nonsense.

In any case, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter what, we don’t have to let the bullies rule our lives and we don’t have to let them win.  Because as I along with several others have pointed out via Ragen Chastain’s amazing project, we are better than the bullies.

Stay strong my friends.

Love,

The Fat Chick