I am at La Guardia airport, leaving after spending a week in New York City. It has been an incredible experience. I watched my Best Friend graduate from NYU at Yankee Stadium (I’m so proud of him that I could burst), and got to hear Bill Clinton speak (and he gave a great speech). I got to do a workshop with the ever fabulous Golda Poretsky of Body Love Wellness, at the ever famous Re/Dress plus-sized clothing store in Brooklyn. I got to see all kinds of neighborhoods in NYC that you wouldn’t see as a typical tourist. Got to spend a ton of time with my BF and his boyfriend just relaxing and hanging out which I rarely get to do.
But one of the reasons that I am happy to go back to Texas is space and the taking up of it by me. NYC, while amazing in many ways, does not suit me. It seems to be an increcible city largely based on inconvenient travel, strangers touching and jostling you, and trying to occupy as little space as possible. During my week here I had multiple experiences on trains and subways (sometimes very crowded ones) and I noticed that space is at a premium and people try to take up as little as possible – hunching over, collapsing their chests, abandoning their posture. Nobody said anything about my size (or, at least, not to my face) but then again I never took a seat unless it was beside friends. Things may have been different had I been sitting alone since I take up ALL of a seat and so someone sitting next to me would be stuck touching me (which I wouldn’t enjoy either, part of the reason that I chose to stand).
What makes this more interesting is a discussion that I had with a stranger on my way to NYC. I was in the airport in Chicago standing on an escalator. As I got off a woman said to me “I love the say that you stand. You just…take up space”. Then a panicked look crossed her face and she stammered “I didn’t mean, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, I just…”. I cut her off and thanked her. She said that I looked “regal”, thanked me for inspiring her and then walked on to her flight leaving me feeling super awesome.
This experience was with me as I watched people try to take up as little space as possible. Maybe it’s because I’m a dancer or maybe it’s just me but a big part of feeling good about myself and happy in my body is standing up straight with good posture and that equates to taking up space. I do not apologize for the space I take up and I do not hesitate to make sure that my body has the space it needs (for example, as a short fat person often times if I sit in a booth in a restaurant the height is perfect to dig into my stomach as my boobs rest on the table. Yeah…no. I’m absolutely moving to a space that appropriately accommodates me. This is my body and space is it’s birthright and if you feel that it’s not fair that I take up more space than you, there is nothing stopping you from trying to get to my size or wearing a parka so we’ll be even.
This probably brings up the airplane discussion which I already talked about here.
I guess my point is that if you live in a place that encourages you to be small, or if you try to make yourself small as a way to deal with society, or it’s just a habit, that’s absolutely a valid choice. But maybe consider looking for opportunities to just take up some space. Whether you take a trip to the country or just move the furniture in your living room, consider standing up straight, throwing your shoulders back, moving around and really loving taking up space.