sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will haunt you forever

“H E Y , F A T A S S .”

I froze in my seat, not quite believing my ears. Did he just … My heart sank. I didn’t know how to react, so I didn’t. Is it memory that adds the mocking laughter that followed the words? Or the flash of humiliation searing through me?

“H E Y , F A T A S S .”

It was true. I was fat: Wow, your children are so … well-fed, a grown-up had said to my father once. Boom boom boom, sound effects to accompany my elephant steps as I ran to grab the netball. So the definition isn’t wrong. But no one had said it so baldly until then. And I was caught by surprise by how much words could hurt.

“H E Y , F A T A S S .”

It’s been thirteen years. They have since lost their ability to hurt me, but my inner former fat kid remembers.

And now I pause to think: what if I had said something off the cuff that someone defines as the meanest thing anyone has ever said to them? What if I had thrown out a quip unthinkingly that had hurt someone? I remember being such a dick when I was younger; could I have hurt someone before? It’s unlikely my words would have such earth-shattering impact on people, but I realise that the words we use matter.

We can’t know what other people might remember from what we say, so I want to be more careful with what I say – to be more responsible for the kind of words I put out there. I won’t automatically become this sensitive, thoughtful creature, and it’s impossible to go through life without offending someone (you’d have to be air or something), but I will try to be more aware of the things I say.

“H E Y , F A T A S S .”

“Hey, fuck you and shut up.”

Well, you know, as much as I will keep in mind not to use my words to attack, I will still use my words to defend.


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