To The Verizon Employee Who Took A Photo Of My Fat Body

I'm not a creature in a sideshow who's on display for your personal amusement.

Last updated on Aug 12, 2023

photo of the author holding a bunny Image | Courtesy of Author

When I walked into the Verizon store, the first thing I noticed among the booming technology displayed on hospital white decor was that the only employees running around helping customers were women.

In the front of the store, there was an oval-shaped table with tiny seats that would barely fit the tush of my seven-year-old child. I guess they’d call it chic; I’d call it uncomfortable.

Sitting at the table were three men, one of who came to my aid immediately. He was most certainly new as he spoke with a hesitation I was familiar with when I worked retail for the first time. As sweet as he was, he didn’t have answers. He left me alone so he could confer with his manager.


There, across from me, was the guy I had noticed right away. Be it my true crime obsession, my agoraphobia, or just the general awareness I have in public spaces, I spotted him instantly.

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His biceps screamed, wanting to burst from the too-tight, employee-mandated shirt he was wearing.

Tattoos ran down his arm in black and gray. The air around him felt restricted and judgmental. He was speaking to another male employee who seemed elated that this guy would even talk to him. (You know the feeling, from back in high school, when the cool kid would talk to you? That emanated from this other employee in a nauseating way.)


They were both playing with the phones attached to the table by cords that would go off if pulled too far. 

As I waited for my employee to come back, I felt the stare.

The stare that other obese people can feel from as far as the sky.

I’d like to take a moment and use my platform to write the man staring at me a letter.

Dear Employee Number WhoCares,

I saw you staring at me and not in a flattering way. 

I saw your face crunch in disgust as you scanned by body fat.

I saw the wheels turn in your brain.

I heard what you were saying in your head:

“How can someone be that ugly and fat?”

“She’s so big. Her stomach comes out further than her breasts. Wait, is that just a guy with man breasts?”


And then, despite your attempts at being covert, I saw you slide the store phone away and switch it for your phone.

I saw you pick up your phone case and slowly angle it my way. I saw you, the entire time, staring at me, as you took a photo, and slid the phone back down.

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Did you not think I saw you? 

Did you think you had a right to take my picture as if I were a creature in a sideshow?

I guess it’s my fault after all. I decided to leave the comfort and privacy of my own home to enter into the public world while having the audacity to be fat, with a super-short haircut some may claim makes me look “gay” (I am queer, so, I guess I win on that one, huh?).


But here's what you can't see from your seat, Mr. Who Cares:

I suffer from severe depression.

I suffer from severe anxiety.

I suffer from suicidal ideation.

The fact I left my house was not only a huge deal for me but for my family who often misses me when I cannot go out with them because it’s too much of a panic-inducing stressor. 

This morning, I woke up happy. I woke up free from the severity of anxiety. I woke and weighed myself to learn I had lost four pounds. I was ecstatic. I was in a good place.

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If you had done this six months ago even, I can tell you with everything inside of me, I would have gone home and attempted suicide.


Because why live a life as a person who is revoked of their privilege of being a human being with feelings just because they won’t adhere to the standards that society has come up with?

Have you been watching the news lately, Mr. Who Cares? Have you noticed that celebrities, those who “have it all” are dying by suicide?

Did it ever occur to you that maybe others who are not celebrities may also be in a suicidal space and your actions toward them can push them over the edge?


I posted this encounter on Facebook and friends either showed their anger or tried to justify their behavior by saying maybe I looked like someone you knew.

There is no justification for your behavior. EVER.

Please, for the love of God, don’t take pictures of strangers for your own amusement.

Please, for the love of God, don’t post pictures of strangers on the internet for your own amusement.

Most of all, be kind. You just don’t know how much you can impact someone’s life.

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.


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Liza Walter is a freelance writer who has appeared in HuffPost, BRIDES, Bust Magazine, Ravishly, and more.