Friday Ephemeraren’t
Don’t Tell Your Parents

She’s Seething With Empowerment

Meanwhile, in the world of the well-adjusted Guardian columnist

It was July 2014, Nashville Tennessee. I was walking into a gas station for a bottle of water when the man behind me stepped up to open the door for me. With that act of kindness, something inside me snapped and I flew into a blind rage. I began screaming at him at the top of my lungs.

This latest admission of derangement is by Stacie Huckeba, a photographer and video-maker. She continues,

“No, you cannot open this door for me! You wouldn’t have opened it two years ago, so you damn sure can’t open it now!” I scowled and stormed away, completely enraged.

You see, he’s not allowed to do that - holding open the door for her - or for any woman, presumably. Because although Ms Huckeba didn’t know this polite gentleman and had never seen him before, she’s nevertheless sure of what his views on holding doors open for people must have been two years previously, back when she was fat. It’s intersectional science. And then, inadvertently, a punchline of sorts:

It was the third time that week that a man had done something polite for me.

Damn the patriarchy and all its works.

First a man had bought me a drink at a concert, and then there was the nice man who had helped me scoop up my groceries after I dropped my bag, and now this man with the door.

At this point, thankfully, Ms Huckeba offers an explanation, and justification, for her erratic, rather alarming mood swings:

Two years before this, in July 2012, I weighed 365lb, which roughly translates into 26 stone. I was enormous, and had been my entire life. I grew up an obese kid, was an obese teenager, an obese young adult, and by my mid-40s I had ballooned into a hugely obese adult. But that summer I started a massive journey to lose 220lb, or almost 16 stone, over the course of four and a half years. As I sit here today, I’m literally a third of the body mass I used to be. I am an average-sized woman who wears a size medium pretty much across the board. And, I am happy to report, I am also a fairly happy, confident person.

Yes, of course. That would explain all the random screaming.

But that day I had just begun experimenting with regular-sized clothes, and I was not confident. I was uncomfortable. 

Ah. Still, though, it does seem like an awful lot of vehement and irrational hostility to be excused with a wardrobe choice.

I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. And it wasn’t until I saw that man’s hand reach for the handle of that door that I knew why – and it pissed me off… He opened that door for me because I wasn’t physically offensive to him, and I knew

Telepathy being one of the less remarked benefits of embracing fat-activist wokeness.

This realisation broke me. It broke me in a way that I’ve never been broken before. He certainly didn’t deserve my outburst, but in that moment I couldn’t help myself. The idea that the size of my trousers had had anything to do with simple politeness was heart-breaking to me

A classic sentence, perhaps. And I don’t know about heart-breaking, but it is a little odd, and just a tad presumptuous. After all, the assumption here - even now, years later - is that the gentleman in question, the one being screamed at, was being polite atypically, judgementally, and only because he admired the conventional proportions of Ms Huckeba’s slacks. And yet there’s no mention of any flirtatiousness or any hint of romantic interest. As described, it’s just an act of courtesy, onto which a great deal of supposition has been eagerly piled. It’s a tough conceit to sell. In my experience, people who hold open doors for others generally do so reflexively, out of habit, a learned courtesy, and rarely with any great premeditation or guile. However, the petrol station outburst has apparently been cathartic, even revelatory, with Ms Huckeba embarking on a second career as a writer and public speaker:

It has now become my life’s mission to help people realise their true beauty and strength; right now, in the body they occupy, this second… Hopefully I can change the way we all perceive beauty.

A sentiment not entirely consonant with the very next paragraph, regarding her newer, slimmer self:

I love my ass the size it is now. I love the way I look and feel, and the freedom it gives me. I can breathe. I actually love taking exercise. I love that my feet don’t ache and my back doesn’t crack. 

Well, yes. Politeness aside, some proportions are more practical than others. Being able to breathe, for instance, is generally a good thing. Though I’ve yet to be convinced that the size of a person’s trousers is the most obvious determining factor in whether or not I hold open a door for them. But this being the Guardian, I suppose what matters is that Ms Huckeba can invoke victimhood to rationalise having behaved like a complete and utter cow.


A footnote of sorts, added via the comments, where B’Radical says

It is a fact that an attractive woman will receive much more positive attention from males than a morbidly obese woman. Should this be the case? That’s not relevant. Her meltdown was a recognition of that fact.

Well, Ms Huckeba doesn’t elaborate on this point - which you’d imagine she might for persuasive effect - beyond claiming to have been “overlooked.” She doesn’t cite any illustrative examples, or offer any evidence of active dislike, merely a non-specific indifference: “No one had ever done those things [i.e., holding open a door] for me before.” And whether or not someone had previously held open a door while she was very big seems a small thing on which to hang her much larger claims, assuming one trusts her account. And then of course it seems a little odd to have a screaming fit at someone behaving courteously, i.e., in the way you’ve supposedly always wanted. It suggests baggage.

Perhaps, as is sometimes the case, some of this passion is being redirected from a more obvious target. After all, no amount of public speaking or articles in the Guardian is likely to have much effect on how people in general may view the eye-catchingly rotund in terms of physical attractiveness. It’s a pointless endeavour, like shouting at rain. The more practical alternative, the one over which a person might exert some actual leverage, is losing weight, such that one can breathe properly and is not in continual discomfort, as the author admits, or not becoming quite so huge in the first place. Thereby avoiding the mental and emotional complications exhibited above, such as acting like a mad woman and bullying a stranger for being nice to you.  

It seems to me the moral of the article, albeit unintended, is that it’s probably best to avoid (a) excessive weight gain, and (b) wokeness, both of which seem likely to engender alienation, resentment and fits of random hysteria.

Update 2:

Ms Huckeba replies.

And I reply to her