I Was Fat-Shamed On The NYC Subway For Accidentally Bumping Into A Man's Backpack

And it is more painful than you can imagine.

I Was Fat-Shamed On The NYC Subway For Accidentally Bumping Into A Man's Backpack Courtesy of the Author

Being fat is hard. Yeah, this is gonna be one of "those" posts, and frankly, I'm not interested if you don't care or if you're tired of fat people complaining all the time, because if that's how you think going into this, you are absolutely someone who needs to read what I'm about to say the most.

This isn't about genetics. It isn't about laziness. This is about the way one set of human beings treats another set of human beings, and as a fat person, I'd like to scream as loudly as possible that the way fat people are treated is not okay.


It's simply not okay.

I'm a fat woman, sure, but I'm not stop-and-stare-at-that fat. I'm short and round and weigh over 200 pounds. Sometimes I can buy straight sizes and sometimes I can't. I can fit in the seats at movie theaters and on airplanes. I'm probably not even the fattest person you'll come across today.


Fear my mountain of cats.

A post shared by Rebecca Stokes (@beecaa) on Oct 16, 2017 at 2:00pm PDT

And yet, on a near-daily basis, I am treated as though I'm worthless (best case scenario) or an offensive abomination who doesn't deserve access to the air she breathes (worst case scenario).


Since I'm a woman, I'm pretty used to feeling uncomfortable in my own body.

Got big boobs? Make sure to keep them hidden so no one calls you a slut.

Tummy hanging over your jeans? Better wear a blowsy top so no one has to look at your disgusting stomach rolls.

When you're a woman, it's like your body is a weapon you don't have any control over. So when you're a fat woman, it's like that weapon is loaded and live and ready to blow at any given moment.

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I explained my current state of fatness because it's important for you to know and remember what I look like before you read what happened during my commute earlier this week.

You need to remember that I'm in the so-called "average" category of fatness.

You need to remember that I'm 5'2".

You need to remember that over the course of my entire life I have been conditioned, as have all women, to keep myself thoroughly out of the way of others, and especially out of the way of men.

Here's what happened...

I got on the F train at 34th street in Manhattan, headed back to my apartment in Brooklyn. It was rush hour, and if you live in the city it's no secret that the trains will always be tightly packed at that time of day, so you're bound to get up close and personal with at least a dozen strangers or more. It's like a totally sexless, miserable orgy.


Once on the train, I followed standard protocol and quickly shuffled to the middle of the car.

As I mentioned, it was packed, but people weren’t letting this stop them from continuing to jam more of themselves inside. If you don't live in New York, you should know that whenever you get on a crowded train you're expected to move as far inside as you can so that others can get on as well. It's kind of odd that I have to explain this, but I'll save my rant about subway etiquette for another day.

I casually made my way to the middle of the train and in that position, my back touched a man’s backpack. He sighed heavily. I ignored this because I got it. Riding the train sucks, and riding the train when it's stupidly crowded sucks even harder. He and I weren't making body-to-body contact because he hadn't removed his backpack.

I was, however, pressed up against roughly eight hundred other people, none of whom seemed bothered by my presence.


This information will become relevant all too quickly.

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At this point, the doors of the train wouldn’t shut because too many people were trying to fit inside. They opened again and they closed again, or at least, they tried to. Then they opened again and tried to shut again, and again they were unsuccessful.

The conductor yelled out: "There is another train behind this one! Please clear the doors!" I rolled my eyes, annoyed by the people stubbornly refusing to step back onto the platform and let the train leave the station.

I repeat: I myself was nowhere near the doors.


When the conductor made yet another announcement for people to move back so that the doors could close, I sighed, growing a tad frustrated, which is my right as a human woman. In the process, however, I must have jostled the backpack clinging onto the heavily sighing man behind me, because I felt it bump against my shoulders and my head. I said I was sorry and leaned away from his backpack and into the armpit of the non-sighing man in front of me.

The man with the heavy sighs dropped his backpack to the ground — which, frankly, if we're discussing subway etiquette, he should have done in the first place — then turned to face me and yelled:“Nice job, you fat b*tch!”

I was so stunned that I actually laughed before I heard myself reply, “What?!”

When you're a self-conscious person with anxiety, you walk into every room you enter waiting for someone to call you names.


It becomes so expected that when it actually happens you can't help but react as though must be you inside one of your own worst nightmares. Could it actually be happening?

When he didn’t respond, I realized he'd said exactly what I thought he had said. My face was in someone's armpit. A woman's breasts were pressed flush against my belly and her face was so close I could smell her last cup of coffee. But somehow, by coming into contact with this man's backpack, I was the problem. Me. I was the reason the doors wouldn't close. I was the reason this guy couldn't take up the exact amount of space that he is accustomed to receiving at will.

It was all.my.fault.


I could have felt mortified and embarrassed, but instead, and until we reached the next station, I was simmering with rage. It's okay to feel sad sometimes, sure, but you know what my fellow fatties? It's okay to get absolutely furious at times when someone treats you in a way that is entirely inhumane.

We pulled into the next stop and my fat self trumpeted, “Fat b*tch gettin’ off the train!” as I shoved my way out and onto the platform.

Most days I would’ve ignored a guy like that. I would have bit my lip all the way to the safety of my home. But not today. Today I was angry. He could suffer on that overly crowded train, but my fat behind wasn’t going to waste one more second of my day being made to feel that my body is some universal offense and an inconvenience to everyone.

Instead, my fat self and I got on the next, much emptier train, and you can bet your bottom dollar I spread my legs and took up all the space that my bodaciously offensive body could manage to fill around me.


And it was glorious.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.