I have been challenging how I think of space, personal space, and the amount of space that I take up. I know that I've written previously about a situation on a plane where a thinner girl in the plane seat in front of me had her chair reclined and refused to pull up her chair when the dinner tray arrived. I had to have the stewardess make her pull the seat up because there was no way that I could eat dinner with the tray resting on my breasts. I mean, I probably could have pulled it off....but it might have had a messy ending. This girl was really mad that the stewardess made her move....this girl also sighed heavily and rolled her eyes when I first sat down anyway.....I could just say that the girl was a bitch...but it was more of a case that she was disgusted with my size. This incident just fuels my theory that thinner people think of space in different ways and that oftentimes when faced with having a fat person in the vicinity they feel entitled to take up as much space as possible. I like to compare it to a little kid throwing their body over their toys saying "these are MINE" whenever a new kid comes to the sandbox....because well, we all know that fat people have this conspiracy going in order to take up all the space possible in the world.
I wish that we could say that we are that organized.
I am very conscious of the amount of space that I take up at any time. And while this sounds odd.....I try to take up as little amount of space as possible. So on a plane, I never use the armrests, rather I hug my arms around me the whole flight. I arrive early to meetings so that I can grab a seat where I am as out of the way as possible.....same with restaurants. When I was in school I would choose seats on the outside aisle so that I could get in and out of the seats without having to move past anyone. I also hate to have my back to any door. Part of this is so that no one can sneak up on me....but there is also a little bit of it so that I can see anyone coming and move out of their was as quickly as possible. I apologize when I have to move past people's chairs...even if they don't have to move. And if I get put in a seat where there is a situation where moving would cause issues.....I stay there for the long haul.....no matter how full my bladder is. And don't get me started on crowds.
The thing is, is that in my head I take up alot more space than I do in reality. Libby and I stood face to face the other day and our shoulders are the same width apart. I really don't take up that much more space than the average person. So I've been trying to challenge myself in how I take up that space.
My first real foray into this was taking part of a suspend and bend yoga class. Basically it is yoga done in a hammock. Its looked fun in the video but I was apprehensive. My first question to the studio owners was if there was a weight limit. By their reactions to my question it was obviously something that they had not thought of. I explained to them that since there was a 15 person limit in the class and that I weighed as much as two people I was concerned that their ceiling might not hold. I know that this sounds ridiculous....but if you are a fat person these are valid concerns. The owners of this studio were cool about it when they realized that I was actually asking a good question. They reinforced the bracings in the ceiling and found out how much weight the swings could take. Its 1000 pounds per swing by the way.
I took a half hour intro course which was mainly focused on learning to trust the equipment. This was -and still is- the hardest part. I mentally could not let myself put my full weight in the swing. I kept trying to keep a foot on the ground. I freaked out a little when I was doing downward dog and the swing was holding the majority of my weight....the pose was way too easy. When I stopped worrying about the swing collapsing out from under me I had alot of fun. The class made me really really uncomfortable though.....so uncomfortable that I decided to take that as a challenge and went and bought a five-class pass. I haven't been back yet because of my schedule, but I am going to do this. I need the challenge.
This is just one step out of many that I have been taking in rethinking how I take up space. Tearing down those barriers has been very freeing. I've been fully extending my arms (and legs) in yoga even if the class has a bunch of people in it. I've been buying clothing because I think that the clothes are cute and not because I've gone through an extensive worrying process on whether or not I think that it will be flattering on me or not. I'm cute, the dress is cute, it will all match up in the end.
The other way I've been challenging this idea of space is by talking to other people about space. I hope that it helps open other people..... I still have a way to go with one of my co-workers who has a mini-seizure everything I say the word "fat". You know that scene in Lion King where the hyena shutters when the other one says the name "Mufasa".....it was just like that when I told her that I was a "big fat fattie and was proud to say that I was fat, and that I gladly rub my own buddha-like belly for luck". I wish that I could have had video of it....it was classic. I want other people to think of size differently as well. I know that I challenge it everytime I am in a yoga class with others. In fact the instructor of that intro class (who had at other times snubbed me a bit) started talking to me where previously she would actively try not to see me. I don't chalk that up to her realizing that I am a fabulous person...I think that it has more to do with me shattering her view of what a fat person is or is not capable of.
I am not sure what the next big space experiment will be besides taking another one of these suspend and bend classes. Although Libby thinks that it should be horseback riding.....which could be fun. I haven't been on a horse since my teens and I'm sure that I could rock riding boots...