Friday, March 4, 2016

The Butt Stops Here

Hello... It's me.

I said I would write now and again whenever I felt something.  Well, I'm feeling something right now.  Could just be gas or indigestion - who knows?  I'll give it a go.

 A few weeks ago I was standing at the deli counter at Target and I glanced at the woman next to me.  She was wearing an oversize hoodie, yoga pants and had no make-up on - what I affectionately like to call my "Target uniform".  She was looking down in all seriousness as if the weight of all the ham in the world was on her shoulders and I could tell that she, like many of us there, had no interest in grocery shopping and was clearly having a shit day.  What I also noticed was that she had the most beautiful, thick, long, natural eyelashes I had ever seen.  So I told her so.  Her face brightened right before my own short, stubby lashed eyes.

I was recently at the gas station where I ran into a woman who had the coolest, raddest (is that a word? Most rad? whatever), edgiest, short hair style ever.  I've always wished I could pull off a short cut like that.  One of the last times I tried pulling off a super short cut it was in the age of Duran Duran and my uncles kept singing "Wild Boys" to me every single time they saw me.  I grew it out. Anyway, I told this woman that I adored her hair and it was so flattering on her.  Her hand flew to her head and she made a few comments about just having worked out and then gave me a stunning smile.  I think her name was Rio.

I often feel compelled to compliment women where I see them most, which is in the locker room.  However, that can border on a bit of skeeviness so I'm careful.  The other day I saw a woman in there wearing THE cutest knit sweater dress, tights and boots.  My average day starts in stretchy pants, proceeds to stretchy gym pants and then ends in stretchy pajama pants after my shower so I love a cute outfit when I see one.  Since she was still dressed I figured it would be ok to say something so I did.  She smiled and excitedly told me all about how she found it at Savers and it only cost her $10 with the tags still on (the last three words spoken with the reverence only a person who enjoys second hand things will understand).

I try to do this stuff as much as I can and I fully admit it's out of selfishness.  Looking for the beauty in other people helps me.  Not that any of us are required to be beautiful for anyone else but still.  If I can see beauty in other people in all sorts of ways then maybe they can see it in me, too.  And when I give a compliment to a woman and I know I mean it perhaps I can improve upon my own ability to accept a compliment at face value.

So just a couple of days ago I saw a girl working out at the gym with an extraordinary rear end.  I mean it was glorious.  Amazing, in fact.  And to top it all off she had gorgeous eye lashes.  How is that fair?  I mean, my butt is ok.  It's perfectly adequate for what I use it for.  It looks good in a pencil skirt and my old man digs it.  But if I was at the Ass Store this is the one I would point to in the glass case while I politely asked the sales associate, "Excuse me, I'd like to see this one, please."  It was my dream ass.

I would totally shop here.  I don't even care what they sell.

I wanted to compliment this young woman on her fantastic posterior but, speaking of skeeviness, this is starting to enter that zone.  That zone of unwelcome attention for a body part or trait.

I once was told I had the perfect phone sex voice.  Except it was told to me by my manager as an explanation after I took a business call that didn't end well. I had prepared a job quote for a man who ended the conversation by asking for my measurements instead of asking me questions about the work I did because I just had THAT voice.  Thus 20 year old Cassidy learned how women aren't always taken seriously in a male dominated field and a compliment isn't always a compliment.  I digress.

So I wanted to tell this woman she had a really great ass and well done.  But maybe she doesn't want to hear about her ass.  Maybe she's gotten a lot of unwanted attention for her rear end.  Perhaps she's been harassed because of it.  Or maybe she just doesn't want some random stranger commenting on it because, honestly, we have the right to not want to hear commentary about our bodies.  Not to mention that complimenting someone on their ass is getting into that territory of sexualization.  I mean, I wouldn't go up to a stranger and say, "Nice tits."  I would do that to one of my close friends, though. That's different and would probably include a boob grab or a chest bump but I promise I do have limits.

Side note to the gentlemen who may have stumbled across my blog: If I, as a heterosexual female, have to think long and hard about whether a compliment to another woman about her body could be deemed inappropriate or even as sexual harassment, you may want to give a second thought or seven before you say some of the stuff that comes out of your mouths to random women and then expect to receive gratitude and blushing giggles in return.  Just a suggestion.

I opted out of saying anything to her.  Did I overthink it?  Yes, I did.  As is my way.  But hemming and hawing usually helps me err on the side of caution and I'm ok with that.  If I see her again perhaps I'll try the lash one again and covet her butt from afar.

I left the weight room floor and went back to the locker room where I gathered up my stuff, set it on the counter and started drying the sweat into my hair like a damn lady when I noticed another woman walk over and stand near me, just a few feet away right by the entrance to the locker room.  I've had conversations and dealings with this woman before and without knowing any specifics or details about her I would have to guess that she has some special needs or is somewhere on the spectrum (disclaimer: I say this having experienced a child who is on the spectrum and not with any medical knowledge at all).  This particular woman tends to walk around the locker room in the nude and every time I see her I think, "She has absolutely no fears about her nudity or body.  I wish I was like that." As she stood near the entrance to the locker room a staff member walked in and, well, I'll just share the email I sent off to this person's manager.

Ms. <name redacted>,

I'm a member at the gym and there was an incident that occurred there yesterday right about 5pm that I feel compelled to inform you about.

I was in the locker room drying my hair across from the sinks.  An older woman who is at the gym almost every day was standing near the paper towels right near the entrance to the locker room.  From my previous experiences and conversations with this woman, I believe she may be special needs or at the very least a vulnerable, older adult.  She also has no qualms with walking around the locker room in the nude, as is her right to do in the privacy and safety of the women's locker room.  She was nude as she stood next to the paper towel dispenser.

As I was standing there one of your employees, <name redacted>, walked in and came face to face with this woman.  <Name redacted> walked past her and through the other set of doors into the bathroom area.  A few moments later she walked back through and exited the locker room.  I packed up my bag and left shortly after her where I saw <name redacted> talking to one of the trainers. The portion of the conversation that I heard was, "You just can't unsee some things, you know?" followed by a lot of laughter.

She proceeded to walk towards the front desk just in front of me and at least 15-20 feet from the front desk she called out to the young girl working there and said,  "I need some eye drops right now.  I need eye drops to wash out what I just saw in the locker room.  Guess who I just saw..." and then she whispered in the girl's ear.  The girl reacted with horror and laughter and said, "Oh no!"

Now, there's a chance that she wasn't talking about this lady.  A very, very small chance.  But given the timeline of what happened and me immediately following her out of the locker room I am absolutely certain this person is who <name redacted> was talking about.  And I find it reprehensible.

Just a few short years ago I worked at a gym.  I taught group fitness classes and I was a personal trainer.  I taught Silver Sneakers regularly.  I managed the group fitness department and I was the location manager for that location.  I know exactly what sensitivity should be demanded of employees.  I know for certain how important membership is to a gym.  And, just as a human being, I know how people should be treated, especially as an older, vulnerable adult.  Imagine how disappointed I was to find out that <name redacted> isn't just a staff member.  She's the Operations Manager.

I'm thankful that I was the one that heard <name redacted>'s comment and not another member.  I've been a very active advocate for body positivity and helping people trying to find their own value and worth as a motivation to taking care of their own health and fitness. I know many people who don't even want to go to the gym for fear of being ridiculed for their bodies or their weight.  Those are the same people who should feel the most safe and welcome at a fitness institute when they are trying to better themselves.  Thank God it wasn't someone like that who heard <name redacted>'s comments and never wanted to go back to the gym.  I worry that she'll make future comments about other members, however, and do real damage.

I like this location.  I've had really good experiences with several members of the staff up front.  I hope that, at the very least, you can have a discussion with your OM to ensure that those kind of disgusting comments will not be directed at one of your paying members again.  She should be leading the much younger staff by example and frankly, I'm ashamed of what she's teaching them right now.

I would like to at least know that you received this email and have heard what I've had to say and plan to address it.  If you have any further questions or concerns I would be happy to talk to you any time.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


The juxtaposition of these two events, my worry over giving an inappropriate but well meant compliment and this horrible example of body shaming, just minutes apart, was mind boggling.  While I still believe I made the right choice in not commenting on this young woman's rear end I believe wholeheartedly that we need much more praise in our lives, especially as women.  We need to stand on the same side and remind each other that we are ok just as we are.  That we are beautiful and worthy and deserving of taking care of ourselves.  That there are things that are special about each one of us.  And we need to defend those who are being told they are less than.

I concede that I don't do everything with altruistic intentions.  When I praise another person I also do it in the hope that I can start to praise myself more.  When I stand up for another person, like I tried to do in this instance, I also do so in the hopes that I can learn to stand up for myself.  The fact is, it's so much easier for me to do these things for someone else than myself but I'm trying.  I'm learning.  I'm practicing.

If you can't do it for yourself right now practice doing it for someone else.  I promise you this: when you give someone a compliment or a voice when they so clearly need it the rewards are innumerable.  To see some random stranger who looks stressed and anxious, just like the rest of us, look up with a glow in their face and give you such a genuine smile in thanks?  Well, that's just everything right there.

Try it.  Repeatedly.  There's your homework.  And you have plenty of time because the indigestion has passed and there's no telling when I'll write again.

1 comment:

  1. As usual. Awesome. Glad you sent the email. I can't wait until the day you do video blogs and declare "you should listen to me...because I'm awesome ".


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