It happens like this:
I’m seated around a table with a lovely couple from Oroua Downs––though we could be anywhere––surrounded by a breakfast of eggs on toast with fried tomatoes. The flavor seeps through the bread, salt and pepper. Alive.
Last night I camped (with permission) on the couple’s lawn. In the morning I will cycle the remaining 70km to Whanganui.
They ask the familiar cast of questions:
Who are you?
Where are you from?
What does your family think?
Are your parents alive?
How far have you cycled?
And then it tumbles out. My least favorite question.
It’s more of a statement really,
& it makes me want to gag on my toast.
“Cycling all this way, you must have lost so much weight?!”
Really? I smile and laugh it off,
not wanting to be confrontational.
I wish they would say:
“You must have such a big heart.”
“You must be so strong.”
Here’s the thing.
I have no desire to become so small that I disappear.
I am here, I am queer, I am visible.
I am a speck of hi-vis neon cycling through the landscapes, over the mountains and rivers / announcing my place in the family of things.
(Can you tell I’m trying to memorize Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” this week?)
I honestly couldn’t give a flying fuck about how much I weigh, or how much anyone around me weighs, for that matter.
Am I able to do the things I want to do,
to cycle across a country whole,
to dance through many continents? Perfect.
That’s all that matters.
But some days I have to be my own strength––
& shut out the body-shaming culture that permeates the everyday things. The eggs and the toast.
Go home, body negativity. Go home.
Here’s my challenge to you, world:
let’s change the culture.
The next time you see a #solofemaletouringcyclist, or anyone, for that matter, who is doing something awesome in the world––
for goodness sake, don’t ask her about her weight.
Don’t think about her weight.
What does she do?
That’s all there ever is.
Cycles of breath.
Not one bit of who I am as a person is captured in a number, in the amount of force exerted on the mass of my body by a gravitational field.
I’m not an object. Stop treating me like one.