Taste of Saint Paul
Last night, Visit Saint Paul hosted its annual holiday party, appropriately called Taste of Saint Paul. It features bites from the top restaurants and caterers in the city, and is highly anticipated by everyone in our office. It’s pretty much the Super Bowl of holiday work parties, and I’ve been sure to attend with an open heart and empty stomach for the last three years. I could go on and on about what I ate, who made it, blah blah blah, typical food blog stuff, but I would rather talk about something that happened last year at this party, something that inspired me to write this blog in the first place.
It involves a colleague of mine, lets call her Amy. It was her first time at Taste of Saint Paul, and she was holding down a high-top table while I went on my third hors d’oevre round-up. I returned proudly with a meatball, kabob, and chocolate truffle. Amy looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Wow, I don’t know where to put it all!” I laughed, patted my stomach and proudly proclaimed with a mouth full of meatball, “Right here!” She responded, “I don’t know how it’s possible, I’m way too full for more and we’re the same size.” It was then that I did the thing that I absolutely hate, the whole, “Oh no way, you’re way thinner than me,” self-deprecation thing.
It was then that Amy upped the ante and asked the question, and I mean the question, the one that is supposed to remain unasked, the one that evokes fear in the most formidable of human beings; “How much do you weigh?” I was shocked and uncomfortable, but also a bit impressed by the sheer bluntness with which it was put forth. I didn’t know what to do. I considered dancing around it, continuing the stupid game I was playing with a “Oh, you don’t want to know!” or “A lot, I promise,” or “Way more than you!” But I didn’t. Inspired by her directness, I said “118 pounds.”
That was true, because at the time I was weighing myself everyday. That morning, I had weighed 118 pounds. I wanted to weigh 110, and for a moment considered rounding down and telling her I weighed 115, but I was honest. This conversation was uncharted territory with a coworker, and was as much of an anthropological experiment as anything else. I wanted my results to be pure.
Amy’s jaw dropped. It was as if she had never heard of a number that large, as if it were unfathomable to her. It was as if I were explaining the age of the universe and its rate of expansion. For a glimmer of a second, her face literally became the “mind blown” emoji, and I mean that literally, not in a millennial way. Her complexion turned yellow and a puff of bright orange smoke arose from her head. The poor thing had to then backtrack and cover herself as she realized that her reaction to my weight could have been taken as… shall we way, less than complimentary. She picked up her jaw from the table, and as she resembled her mouth said, “You just look so much smaller than that, you carry the weight very well. I’m only 95 pounds and I would like to slim down.”
Let me be clear, I am not sharing this story to talk shit about Amy, quite the opposite. Amy is the most kind, compassionate, warm person I have ever met, and I am lucky to know her. I was initially hurt by her reaction to my weight, because it insinuated that I weighed a lot, and I was under the impression that that was a bad thing (fuck you, diet culture). As soon as my initial depression wore off, I felt a almost inspired. What if, instead of the moral of this story being “never ask a person’s weight,” it was the opposite? What if we start talking about the number, as if it is any other number? What if the question becomes as innocent as “When is your birthday,” or “What’s your favorite band?” What if we take away that number’s power and treat it as insignificantly as it truly is, instead of guarding it with our entire heart and soul?
That experience stuck with me for quite some time. It’s one of the things that ultimately inspired me to start writing Pointy Chin Diaries. Everyone is going through their challenges with weight and beauty standards separately, but what if they didn’t have to?
If you feel so inclined, comment with your weight and tell me how you feel afterwards.