Monday, 11 July 2011

Apologising for taking up space

An incident occured last week that made me really think about bodies out of place and the space we can legitimately and empoweringly take up in public. I was in a shopping centre using the ladies' facilities. As I dried my hands, a woman came in through the door, and with the position of the hand dryer near the doorway, I stepped aside to let her pass. She said sorry. A few minutes later, I was outside in the food court waiting for my partner to come out of the mens' loos, and the woman walked past me again, through a gap of about a metre between me and a table, and again said sorry. She was of a larger frame. It really wasn't any trouble for me to let her pass both times. This might not be the reason at all (she might have been brought up to say sorry regardless) but to me she had seemingly felt like she needed to say sorry for the space she took up; as though a slimmer woman would have been able to get past much easier, like she was putting me out. This apologising for taking up space is an issue of empowerment and feminism/fat acceptance. Whatever our size, we should be able to walk around, taking up our space, as we need. However, as someone who has not experienced being a larger body, I am not able to speak for the experiences of people broader than me.

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