The other day, Judd wrote an emotional op-ed piece in The Daily Beast. She had been the object of feverish speculation having to do with her face – i.e. why it looked puffier than it had in previous years and whether she’d had “work done.” She explained that she’d been sick and was taking steroids and that it was disgusting how women’s bodies are picked over and spit out.
I have felt her anger and shared her outrage – both on my own behalf and on Michael’s.
My husband takes steroids on and off and has for years. Prednisone is a wonder drug in its ability to reduce inflammation, but one of its dreaded side effects is what’s called “moon face.” When he’s on “Pred,” he blows up like the Incredible Hulk. It’s not fun, but as soon as he gets off the evil stuff, he goes back to his normal size.
People don’t remark about his moon face; they’re just glad if he’s feeling better. Most people, that is. There’s an anecdote in my forthcoming book, YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits (Chronicle/October), in the chapter on friendship. He and I were at a wedding reception during a period when he was on high doses of steroids prior to surgery. His face was indeed puffy. Suddenly, a man we thought was a friend, although someone we didn’t see on a regular basis, walked up to Michael, pointed at him and said, “Wow. Michael. You got SO FAT!”
I was stunned by this man’s insensitivity. I mean, what kind of jerk says that right to a person’s face?
Michael was just as stunned, I could tell, but he reacted much more diplomatically than I would have and replied calmly, “I’m not fat. I’m on steroids. I’m about to have surgery.”
Not only did the man not apologize, but he didn’t even ask about the surgery or say, “I hope it goes well.” He is so off our list now.
I’m the opposite of fat – “the size of a pencil,” I once wrote about myself – and, Michael’s story aside, I have always been amazed how people who are careful to avoid insulting a fat person have no compunction about insulting a thin one.
“You’re so scrawny,” a woman once told me. “You’re nothing but bones,” said another. “Do you ever EAT?” many of them have had the nerve to ask.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was at Saks looking for a top to wear to a dressy event when a saleswoman approached.
“I’m going to a fancy dinner tonight,” I told her, “and I need something great to wear under my suit jacket.”
“Have you seen the new tops from Theory?” she asked, referring to one of my favorite designers.
“Yes,” I said. “I tried them on and they were all too big.”
She literally rolled her eyes and said, her tone dripping with sarcasm, “Oh, my heart bleeds for you.”
Seriously? Not only was this said without humor or sisterly understanding or even good salespersonship, but it was downright rude.
I stammered and said, “Well, I’m small, I guess.”
She said, “Honey, women would kill for your body, so I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.”
“I’m not worried,” I said, gathering myself after what felt like a punch in the gut. “Have a nice day.”
I left the store wondering why it is that people feel so comfortable picking on thin people. I have small bones. I was built that way. And yes, I eat – plenty.
So I agree with Ashley Judd in her message to all the finger pointers out there: buzz the hell off.