Eating In Public Is a Spectator Sport When You’re Fat

Illustration by Hana Jang (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Being fat means never being allowed to ignore your fatness. After navigating a lifetime of being fat (and ashamed) in the US, Jonatha Kottler moved to the Netherlands and found a whole new universe of exclusion, which she describes in an essay in New York Magazine.

One day, about 12 weeks after blowing up my whole life and moving my family to what seemed like a very hostile environment, my son and I decided we would go to the cinema and see The Great Gatsby to cheer ourselves up and feel less homesick. We did what we sometimes did at home — skipped dinner to have popcorn for dinner instead. Already flummoxed by having to preorder our tickets for assigned seats on a Dutch website (none of these were cinema-hurdles back home where you’d just walk up and buy a ticket), we arrived at the cinema. We bought the largest popcorn (which is in fact a product they sold — we didn’t bring our own trash barrel and ask to have it filled) and settled in to enjoy our treat. I felt a tap on my shoulder, which was strange since I knew a total of three people in the entire country. I spun around, startled, and the Dutch man sitting behind me said, “Are you going to eat all of that? I see why you are so fat.”

Read the essay