Being fat, I don’t really have a social life. It’s more like a social minefield. It’s hard to be spontaneous and fun when you’re a Type-A personality who’s also toting around an extra 100+lbs. Socializing usually means dressing in something other than your go-to fat girl wardrobe (L to XL men’s tee and mom jeans). It also usually means going to different, mostly unknown locations that are well out of both your neighborhood and comfort zone. When you develop somewhat of a socialization phobia (some due to your anxiety but mostly due to your fatness), you spend so much time trying to exert as much control over the wheres and hows of any given social scenario. You also spend a lot of that time worrying about said upcoming social events.
I’m a fairly solitary person by nature, and I’m happiest when I’m doing limited social things, such as dinner with close friends or a movie with my husband (and maybe 1 or 2 other friends). Parties, “going clubbing” and bar hopping are about as exciting an idea to me as my annual OB/GYN checkup. (Read: NOT AT ALL EXCITING!). When I do socialize outside of my preferred social scenarios, I’m usually stressed out about it for at least a week prior. What can I wear? How long will it take to get there? Will there be drunk people? *What will the ‘away toilet’ situation be? (This doesn’t only apply when you’re fat).
To quote Liz Lemon in the 30 Rock episode, Gavin Volure:
“I’m in Connecticut, I haven’t eaten and I’m stressed about an “away toilet” situation.”
(*I guarantee at least one of your regular or thin sized female friends worries about this issue, too. Guys never worry about the bathroom because they CAN PEE ANYWHERE!)
Other issues and concerns include:
- How formal/trendy is said event? Will I have something I can wear that isn’t totally uncomfortable, doesn’t drive me nuts or look too out of place?
- How late does this event run? There’s only so much socializing I can do, especially when I’m already super uncomfortable because I’m A) fat and B) being forced to socialize C) Stressed about an “away toilet” situation and D) being judged by your bitchier, more judgmental friends who will be fake nice to me (and think I can’t tell they’re being a pack of assholes). I’ve been dealing with people like this for far longer than I’ve been fat – I’m pretty good at picking out phony bitches when I come across them. I expect this skill will come in handy even when I’m no longer fat.
- Will there be stairs? Will there be a lot of stairs? If I start turning red and/or purple due to one too many flights of stairs, do I have enough medicine in my asthma inhaler? Could there maybe be a nice little alcove or an out-of-the-way-restroom-for-one where I could step inside for a few minutes and compose myself before joining everyone else?
- Will there be chairs? Preferably comfortable ones I can sit on without worrying my fat ass will go through them? God knows I can’t stand for more than an hour without my ankles swelling up. (“Bad seating” includes almost all kinds of folding chairs, some bar stools and the seating nemesis of all short, fat people – the beanbag chair).
- Is there a readily accessible, CLEAN bathroom with a functioning lock on the stall and wealth of toilet paper? (This is almost always a “No” when visiting shady little rock clubs and/or bars. Happens more than you’d expect, especially when some of your closest friends are working musicians. This point ties in nicely with the earlier discussion about “away toilet situation(s)”).
For the most part, I know regular and thin sized folks don’t worry about this sort of thing. The stress of socializing as a fat person is EXHAUSTING. So many possibilities, so many variables, so many chances things could go horribly, embarrassingly wrong. It must be nice to be invited to a social event and the only things you really have to worry about are A) what you’ll wear B) remembering cab fare and your cell phone. I am looking forward to socializing as a regular-to-thin-sized person immensely.