The Women Who Passed Me on The SideWalk
By: KyAuna Alonzo
My day began like every other day, pulling myself out of bed in the morning to stay on my son's schedule; after a late night of school work. I started a the shower and flipped the tab to clog the drain and put my son in the tub. This has been my effective way of killing two birds with one stone, plays and gets clean on the far end of the tub in his pool of warm water and I am on the other end getting clean as well. Usually my mornings are wake up, get my son out of bed, breakfast, play time, lunch, cartoons and a nap, but today I had other plans.
I wanted to take my son for a walk, I like to go as often as I can and we live about ten minutes (walking) at most from the old downtown. I prefer it to the new one, which is roughly fifteen minutes away in my car…but much further if I were to walk. I like the old buildings, though they are generally all empty now. My son gets put in the stroller until we get there and then he has the option to walk beside me or ride. More often than not, he rides.
It was around 1:30 in the afternoon when I finished with my makeup and my hair as well as getting my excited 2 year old ready to go out the door. I won't lie, I don't know my neighbors very well but they all seem like very nice people. My husband and I moved to North Carolina after he finished his basic training and tech school with the Air Force. He hadn't wanted to live on base, after spending so much time stuck on one, and I couldn't blame him. Though, we moved to a neighborhood that didn't host much diversity. What I mean by that is, aside from one other house I am the only other white person living here. For me, though, it was sort of a welcomed change. If nothing else it was a perspective changer, I'd never been a minority before and it had an odd feeling to it. When I said 'I' was the only other white person that was what I meant. My husband is Latino and our son…well naturally he looks like his dad.
Anyway, I pulled out the stroller and placed my son inside and off we went down the neighborhood sidewalk. Granted you have to get tricky in places because there are spots where the sidewalk is coming up and tree roots are in the way but honestly…it reminded me of home. We made it down the couple blocks and were strolling down the sidewalk in front of old stores that had recently been cleared out. I enjoyed the look of the old buildings, and tried to imagine what they were originally built for. Each was so entirely different from the next in the most wonderful eyecatching way and yet they were all pressed up against one another like a stack of cards.
My son leaned forward, "Girls," he said as he reached outward toward three women that were headed in my direction. I steered my stroller to the far side of the sidewalk and smiled at the three women. My son all grins with his one dimple pressed into his left cheek as he attempted to get their attention. He raised his hand up waved at them, "Hi, hi, hi, hi," he repeated sweetly to them. The women smiled at my son and one even waved back, I smiled pleasantly at them and this is where things started to go bad.
All three smiles vanished as they looked from my son to me, 'ok?' I thought as they began to pass us. I wasn't paying attention to what they were saying at first but caught finally, "…no baby daddy." I looked at them, they couldn't be talking about me…right?
"He probably left her for someone with a real woman's body," said another one. They were all looking at me and decently loud enough for the people doing construction across the street to hear. The one talking gestured to her own curves, which was apparently what a 'real' woman's body looked like.
Here is the thing about me, I am 5'4 and 124 pounds soaking wet. I am a slender woman with long beautiful red hair that is curly and reaches down to by butt if I don't put it up. I will admit that I am a little lacking in the hind quarters department and as for my boobs ….well they just been trapped somewhere between a big B cup and a smaller C, either way they don’t fit in either bra size correctly. The only obvious fat on my body is a small pooch on my tummy that can always be easily sucked in when I want to. My thighs don't touch, they never have, and I will be fascinated the day they actually do; if that day comes. Depending on my brand of jeans, I can fit into anywhere between a size 2-5. To top it all off, I really don't exercise. This is just how my body is, my metabolism works hard enough that I can eat whatever I want and not blow up like a balloon. Is that smart or healthy? Nah but my point is, this is just how I was built. These women though, all probably had breasts that were in the quadruple D department or larger and had booties to balance them out. Each had thighs that were probably about as thick around as my waist. One of them actually looked like she could have been about four months pregnant.
'Huh, you learn new things every day,' I thought to myself, trying to convince myself that what they said didn't annoy me. 'Apparently I don’t have the body of a real woman. Back to the store we go with you 'fake' woman body, I want my money back.' I was prepared to just shrug it off and keep moving, I had my son with me and I was trying to have a good day out with my little man.
"Just another skinny white b**ch with a brown baby," said another. I slammed breaks and turned around, they had stopped and were staring at me. Logic told me that they were trying to start something, trying to get under my skin, but I was starting to get really irritated.
"Excuse me?" I said frowning.
"Excuse you?" The one on the right stepped up, wow she was loud, "Ain't nobody here want to excuse you, you skinny b**ch."
"Ok? So you're mad at me because I am skinny?" I asked, I laughed…I couldn't believe how ridiculous it was. I had to wonder how much more middle school drama this would become.
"Why you laughing, you little boy bodied b**ch," the woman standing next to her asked, it was obvious that they didn't like that I thought something about what they had said to me was funny. "You anorexic looking b**ch." It became apparent to me at this point that they might only have one cuss word in their arsenal because the repetitiveness of the word was almost annoying in itself. I myself have been known to have sort of a potty mouth and had a wide selection of choices. But once I got pregnant I decided to clean it up a bit by replacing all my cuss words with the names of food. Burn myself while cooking and you'd hear, 'skittles!' Instead of telling them off like I wanted to, I'd only have the option of saying, 'Go French Toast yourself.'
I laughed again, "Anorexic! Oh man I wish," I said, yup…worked like a charm. They shut up for two seconds and just stared at me, "They get all the good modeling jobs." ba-bum-tss thank you, thank you I'll be here all week. I thought it was funny but they weren't amused by my humor.
"Where's your man huh?" the woman on the left asked.
I made an overly sarcastic version of an apologetic expression, "That's classified."
It was their turn to laugh, "Uhuh, right. Because he's a spy right?" I didn't say anything at first, simply looked at my son who was totally oblivious of what was going on, still grinning away and adding his occasional laugh to the harmony.
"She don't know where he is, I wouldn't be surprised if he's in bed right now with my friend Sha-something-or-other." The woman in the middle said and the three of them burst into laughter again.
"You know those white women are only good for about 2 minutes and then the boys come home to the real women." the woman on the right added.
"Ahh 2 whole minutes, impressive." I said sarcastically, "You need to clarify, are you mad at me because I am skinny, because I am white?" Who says racism can't go both ways?
"Neither one works earns you any points with us," frankly, I have forgotten which one of them said that, but it doesn’t matter.
"Well the white thing…" I said still feeling like a being a smart a**, "is thanks to my spf 1000, without it I'd be redder than a steamed lobster in an hour out here, but that’s the price of beauty, you know. As for being skinny, I could go to McDonalds and order 15 heart stopping big Mac's and then order 4 of the greasiest pizza's from Dominos and go home…eat them all & drink a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi. Probably end up having a heart attack, but I won't gain a pound. Shoot, with my luck I'll probably lose one. Do you know why?" I asked, but I didn't give them any time to respond, "it's because this body right here that I have," I gestured up and down my torso like the other woman had earlier, "Is effing AMAZING." They looked at me stunned a moment and I was starting to feel victorious.
"If your toothpick body is so amazing then where is your baby daddy then huh?" the woman on the left asked with all manner of attitude.
I smiled, "First I'll have to correct you," bum bum bum you could almost see the violence in their eyes flash to life, "I don't have a 'baby daddy', I have a husband." I let that sink in for the moment. "He's not here with me right now because he's currently deployed and doing his part to keep our country safe. He is part of the reason you can safely go to sleep at night." I looked at the other woman who had mentioned her friend who apparently sleeps with 'lots' of people (ya that’s something to brag about) "I can guarantee my husband has never met your frisky friend. Because as you ladies say, loyal men always come home to a real woman." I let them try to stammer for words and come up with things they thought were good enough come backs or insults. I casually picked up my phone, "Well…It's been fun ladies but I best be off. I have a fun filled day planned for us." I looked down at my son who was still smiling up at me and pushed on down the sidewalk, leaving those three 'real' women standing there without anything useful to say.
To be perfectly honest, I was pretty dang proud of myself. I have been a quiet person my whole life who has been bullied consistently since the second grade. When I moved here I knew that I would have to be stronger because when my husband would leave it would be just me to protect me. I don't think body image is as important as self-image, and for a long time I believed that I was stupid and ugly. I have grown just enough in my short 24 years of life to know that, even if I don't view how I look to be perfect and I won't always have the answers. But, the people most important in my life view me as beautiful and intelligent and really… anyone else's opinion shouldn't matter. The people I love see me this way and because they do, that is how I feel.
I just want to pass along that advice. My whole life I wished for sleeker eyes, fuller lips, bigger boobs, ears that didn't stick out, sexy legs...all because I wanted to 'fit in' and be considered beautiful. I took for granted everything I had going for me, for most of my life, because I was only focused on what I believed to be the negatives about my body. Now, pretty much the only thing that bugs me is the fact that I get 5 0'clock shadow on my legs everyday :P.
When I was growing up my teachers repeatedly said, "She doesn't function 'inside the box' and I always worked hard to try to be like the other children who were perceived as 'normal'. Normal and Beautiful are two ridiculous concepts because as long as we compare ourselves to other people...we will never be happy with the results.
With life being as short as it is, we can't afford to waste another minute on worrying about what other people think of us....I've wasted enough time for everyone. Get out there and uncomplicate your life with what is considered 'normal' or 'beautiful' and just be happy being you.