My first several weeks at the office last May were filled with uncomfortable conversations about my weight and my hair. Women meeting me for the first time would comment on how fat I was. I was offended and hurt on the inside, but I always tried not to let it show. My act must have been convincing because the same people kept making the same comments, usually with big smiles on their faces. Sometimes, after telling me how fat I was, they would kick me while I was down by telling me that my hair looked horrible and I needed to fix it. The hair comments didn’t hurt me as much as they annoyed me. I thought it was unreasonable of them to expect my hair to look great after I rode my bike to work in 95 degree heat and unbelievable humidity. On the inside, I ranted to myself about how we can’t all have that beautiful, thick, straight hair that Thai women have. Some of us have stringy thin hair that never looks under control no matter how hard we work at it. Not that I would know much about working at it. I don’t like to spend time on my hair.
Needless to say, I didn’t like talking with the women who were always criticizing my appearance. So I started avoiding them. Six months later, I still avoid going out into the hallway if I see them out there. Today I saw two of the worst offenders walking up a staircase just ahead of me. I was formulating my plan to take the staircase on the other side of the building in order to avoid them when one of them spotted me. I was pleasantly surprised when, instead of patting my stomach and commenting on how big it is, they told me that I looked “sexy” and “so thin”. Even better, they didn’t follow those comments up with any criticisms of my hair!
I’m not taking their comments to heart, because I’m not any thinner or sexier now than I was 3 months ago. Still, it feels like a milestone of sorts to finally have some approval from them.