Disclaimer: The stories on this blog touch on difficult issues and experiences.
CW: This week's story involves situations pertaining to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and body image.
My favorite book in middle school was actually called The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.
My life has been a little awkward, because I matured really young, like in fifth grade. My mom has told me that men would hit on me when I was in elementary school, because I looked like I was older. She told me I looked like I was in high school when I was really young. As I've gotten older I've gained weight, and all of my weight goes to my butt, which is really hard for me. But I didn't ever think I really had a big butt and I went to college and that's all everybody talked about all the time. And like, I guess people weren't talking about it in high school but once I got to college, I went to school in Virginia and there would be guys who would know what my name was.
I would walk down the sidewalk to class and two guys would be like "Hey..." and say my first and last name. And they would say, "Oh, I know who you are." And I would be like, "Well I don't know who you are." And everyone would always say, "Oh, you're the girl with the big butt!" And people would say that to me at parties. It's rude. It's demeaning to be known as that and to constantly have it pointed out.
I know that I have a curvy body. But guys feel like they can touch me all the time. I don't talk about this stuff, especially on social media, I don't like talking about it because it makes me feel so uncomfortable. I'm not embarrassed about my body or anything, but I don't like the way people consistently point things about my body out.
Going through college, I always had a problem with guys grabbing me and touching me inappropriately. The amount of guys that touch me, even still now if I go out to a bar...I don't even like going to bars now that I'm older because I can't go out without a man walking by and grabbing me. And it's even more uncomfortable when it's people that I know. At one point, my boyfriend at the time and I broke up for a brief period and I went out to a local bar. In the short time I was there, three men touched me.
Two were married, one of their wives was pregnant at home. It happened a lot in college, it happens now. Even at my friend's bachelorette party, she and her fiance had a combo party and one of the guys that came is married with kids, and he kept grabbing my butt all night, he just kept doing it. And it was a crowded bar so sometimes when it happened I couldn't even turn around and yell at anyone because you can't see who it was that did it. And I would know it was him, and even he, while I was with my fiance, would send me inappropriate Snapchats. I deleted my Snapchat because I was so tired of getting inappropriate pictures and messages when I am clearly in a relationship.
There were two specific instances that happened to me, one was in college. There was this boy who was on the football team. It was his sophomore year and my junior year. I knew him through a mutual friend and I thought he was cute. My friend said she was going to set us up. He got my number and texted me and asked me to come over. Well, apparently he had been drinking, he came up to my room and I was so excited to just hang out with him and talk to him and stuff. As soon as he came up to my room, he had a beer in his hand, you could tell he was drunk. And in dorm rooms, you don't have places to sit, so we were sitting on my bed. And right away he was trying to touch me and would take my hand and try to get me to touch him. And I kept saying "No, I don't want to do that." And he kept trying to kiss me and I was like, "I just met you."
When you're nervous like that you're thinking like, "I want him to like me so I guess I have to at least kiss him back. I think he's really cute..." And he kept sticking my hand down his pants and stuff like that, and at one point he got on top of me. He was a really big dude. He got on top of me and I kept saying no, get off of me, and it took me to the point of me actually telling him that I was going to start screaming if he didn't get up and leave. And he was like "I was just messing around, I was just trying to have some fun." And he ended up leaving. And he didn't actually do anything except make me touch him when I didn't want to, forcefully making me touch him...but it makes me uncomfortable because I feel like because of my body, because of the way I look, men think I'm easy or something. Like I've had guy friends that I'm close with that have actually told me they thought I was easy and I never acted in a way that should have made them think that, besides just looking like this.
People have asked me before if my butt is real, if I am African American, like, things that you should never just go up and ask someone. Some of my friends will bring it up and I don't care because we all tease each other and there's a level of trust there. But when random people come up to me and talk about it, or strangers walk up to me and ask me if I love my butt...I don't ask you if you love your boobs, so don't just walk up and ask me if I love this part of my body.
This guy started saying weird things, like telling dirty jokes, and I thought he was just being stupid and didn't think much of it so I tried to laugh it off. But then he started making obscene gestures to me and say really sexual things to me that made me feel uncomfortable. One time, he came up behind me and pressed himself up against me while pretending that he was getting a tray that was next to me that he didn't need to get and didn't need to press against me to get. There were other times that he would purposely walk directly behind me pretending he was doing things so he could purposely press his body into me and grab my butt and stuff. I had made good friendships there and I had asked one of my friends if this guy was being creepy with her, and she said that he wasn't.
Like I've said before, at this point I had been having guys grope me inappropriately for a while, I just tried to ignore it or be a bigger person about it. Word ended up getting all the way up to our management staff and they asked me to write everything down. So I did, and they ended up firing him. They met with me and told me they were taking care of it, that they didn't condone his behavior. Rumors started going around saying he was going to sue the restaurant because he "didn't do any of those things."
A couple days later I got a call from my manager who asked me to come in. I went in and she told me she was firing me because the boys in the kitchen told her that I was talking to everyone about it and laughing about it, which I wasn't. It was a small restaurant and everyone knew everything that happened, and people were constantly asking me questions about it. The guys in the kitchen told them that it made them uncomfortable and that I was talking about it all the time.
Then the management staff kicked me out of my apartment and was really nasty about it. They told me I had one day to get out. So my family came and helped me move everything out, I was hysterical. The day I was leaving to go home, I drove by the restaurant and found out they had rehired the guy that had harassed and assaulted me because he threatened to sue them.
And I don't like telling people that story because I don't want people to know that I was fired...and that's not even the biggest issue in the story. It just sucks that it so often comes back to the shape of my body and people's perceptions of me based on that.