On the way back I popped into Coles to get groceries while my husband waited in the car. I ordered some ham at the deli, and was told it would be a ten-minute wait but I can come back and it will be ready to pick up. So I ordered, continued my shopping then came back.
I stood there next to three women. The women to my right got served, then I was asked if I was okay and I responded that I was picking up some ham.
There were two women who were friends standing to my left. They then got served, but not before one of them looked at me, then back at the attendant and her friend saying ‘it must be because she’s got big tits’. She had assumed I was being served before them.
Whether the comment was meant for me to hear or not, I heard. My whole body sank with humiliation.
I took a few deep breaths. No, she couldn’t have. But the reality hit me, she did say it.
I turned to her and said ‘excuse me?’ She refused to look at me. My heart was racing.
I walked up in front of her and said ‘excuse me?’ again.
She turned to look at me and I said ‘what did you just say?’.
She replied with a smug face and said ‘I don’t remember’.
It was in that moment I let out that deep breath and said ‘I actually ordered ten minutes ago – how dare you’ before walking off to the checkout.
My hands were shaking as I put my things through. Tears were welling up. The room became foggy. My chest tightened. I bolted to the car, jumped in, looked at my husband and cried.
Did I say enough? Should I have been stronger?
I’m an anxious person and for the last few weeks, I haven't been at my best. We’ve all been there. Those days where we don’t feel great about ourselves, when the mirror isn’t our friend, our clothes don’t seem as beautiful on us as they once were and we’re constantly staring and comparing.
I felt like I had been kicked while I was already down.
I spent the next few hours beating myself up that I didn’t say more, or wasn't strong enough to say something sarcastic or funny and fight back.
But I’m just not that type of person.
I have big breasts, and I’ve been battling for years to fully appreciate this natural, feminine part of my body. It’s a love-hate relationship. One breast is bigger than the other, my bra size changes every five minutes and I avoid buying bras whenever I can.
At the time I had my swimmers on underneath my favourite long-sleeved playsuit from Spell. Of course you could tell I have boobs.
Does that mean I need to wear a high neck outfit next time just to avoid the embarrassment?
Yes, you could say this woman's reaction could be a projection of her own deeper insecurities. Over the last few days I have been trying my absolute hardest to empathise with that, and trying to see how this situation can help me grow and become stronger for it.
But it doesn’t change how much it hurts. No woman should have to be scrutinised like this in their daily lives, let alone when they’re trying to do their grocery shopping in peace.
Women are increasingly getting cosmetic surgery on their boobs...but to change their nipples. (Post continues after audio.)
This woman was old enough to be my mother, mature enough to know better, and adult enough to realise a comment like that can really put someone down.
I know this world is sometimes harsh, and for some of you reading this, maybe you’re saying ‘oh darling just brush it off and move on’.
But the reality is, 4 in 5 women have low self-esteem in Australia. If it isn’t already enough we struggle to appreciate our own beauty, we don’t need others slamming it. Whether it’s our breasts, arms, legs, stomach or face.
We aren’t all tenacious. We aren’t all thick-skinned. We aren’t always resilient.
Acceptance doesn’t happen overnight.
From the very moment we look at ourselves in the mirror for the first time and identify with who we are, the self-love journey is a challenging one. We have to convert ourselves from looking a certain way to feeling a certain way, and it isn’t easy.
I wrote this because we have to keep speaking out and having each other’s back.
If you shame yourself regularly, I empathise with you. I hope and pray you find the strength within you to get the support you need, accept yourself wholeheartedly and nurture every beautiful part of you.
But by no means does it make it okay to shame other women. To humiliate them in front of other people. To bring them down with you.
Last night my sister had a beautiful baby girl, I’ll be an Aunty for the first time and thank god it brought me back to my reality. That I now have a niece who needs me to be the best role-model I can possibly be. To show her that the comments the lady in the supermarket made won’t permanently scar me.
Karla Daly is a writer based in Bondi. She's an avid coffee lover and the barista editor at Meet the People. She's loves poetry, writing personal pieces on her online journal karladaly.com and is currently studying counselling. Her daily mantra - BE instead of do.Instagram @karlaldalyWebsite www.karladaly.com
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