Can we talk about creeps for a minute, please?
I pretty much grew up with the internet, so I’ve been exposed to almost every type of creep imaginable. I also spent some time as a party girl, and learned about a few more types of creep. Sometimes, these creeps are actively trying to convince you that you’re wrong about not wanting to sleep with them. Others are slightly less creepy, choosing instead to give you advice about your appearance or hobbies. (They’re still creeps, though, because it’s not really their business.)
How many of these things have you heard lately? Do you have any more to add? Let us know in the comments!
“How much do you weigh?” or “What size _____ do you wear?”
I’ll admit it: For the longest time, I had no idea why asking a woman what she weighed could be offensive. I’d always been a bit chubby, but I weighed more than I looked like I did. (Or, at least that’s what people told me when I responded to this question.) I was pretty happy with myself for a while.
That is, until I realized what they were really saying when they told me I carried it well. They were telling me, “You look nice… For a fat person.” And it hurts a bit. Over time, the “for a fat person” starts overhanging everything else, and it calls attention to something that may be a sensitive issue. Body image issues can turn into eating disorders if left unchecked – and once you go down that road, it’s a really, really tough path to recovery.
The problem here isn’t (necessarily) in the words you’re actually using, but in the fact that you’re assigning values to someone based on the answer they give. Whether you realize it or not, you’re implying that the person’s value is attached to an arbitrary number. Just don’t do it.
Let me be really clear here. I love pet names. I absolutely adore them and have pet names for almost every person in my life. But when a stranger chooses to call me a pet name, it makes me cringe. Does this mean I’m a hypocrite? Not at all!
Pet names are meant to convey love and affection. It’s implied that calling someone by a pet name, rather than their real name, means you want to have an intimate relationship with them (whether physical or emotional). Sometimes it’s harmless, like the little old lady at your local diner – but when it comes from someone who could prove to be a threat, it turns the woman into an object to be doted on. Not exactly charming.
Instead of assigning a pet name (or any other nickname!) to someone you don’t know – anyone you don’t know – try asking their name instead. You might make a new friend, instead of being labelled the local creep.
“Well, someone’s hungry today.” Or “Are you really going to eat all that?”
There’s a lot of pressure on women to stay thin, for the convenience of others. (I will acknowledge that men face similar pressures, too, but they’re less likely to get flak about them from strangers.) Society likes thin women because they’re “more attractive,” never mind the fact that everyone has their own unique preferences for a partner. But, I digress.
With these pressures (and the added commentary), it’s no wonder that so many women have body image issues. When you add that to the fact that a stranger is literally talking about your food, as if what you put in your body is their business, makes it extra creepy.
Instead of talking about the food someone else is eating, how about just focusing on what you put in your body? Not everyone’s dietary and nutritional needs are the same, and not everybody cares. You have no right to place judgments on how much (or how little) another person is eating.
“You should smile more.”
This one sounds innocent enough, and it almost would be. Except that no one tells men to smile more. Women are told to smile more because they’re perceived as rough when they’re not smiling. They’re seen as aggressive and domineering, and sometimes even called ugly for it. Is it fair? Absolutely not. Does it happen every day? Abso-f*cking-lutely.
Why are we told to smile? Maybe it’s a judgment about how attractive we are. Maybe it’s a commentary that our (perceived) unhappiness makes someone else uncomfortable. In both cases, it’s a gentle nudge that reminds you that what someone else thinks is way more important than how you, as a woman, really feel.
Instead of telling someone they should smile more, you should naturally try to encourage them to smile. Nothing artificial here – just be a good person and a little bit less of a creep, and I’m sure she probably will smile more. Or not – it’s not her job to please you!
“How tall are you without your shoes?”
This one seems innocent, too, except that it seeks to categorize a person based on an arbitrary measurement. Height has nothing to do with your potential for love, success, and happiness, and it shouldn’t be used to determine your value in any of those areas.
It also (indirectly) attacks a woman’s fashion choices. The truth is, the shoes you wear are 100% your business. Who cares if they’re ballet flats, sneakers, rain boots, or platform stilettos? As long as you feel comfortable and confident in your shoes, your shoes are awesome. It literally doesn’t matter what shoes make you feel comfortable.
(That being said, if your work requests that you wear specific shoes for the job, I 100% advise you to either wear those shoes or find a different job… But that’s another subject entirely.)
“You should do something different with your hair/makeup/style.”
This one usually comes from someone who means well, but they miss the mark with their concern. Telling someone that the way they look isn’t good is never the nice thing to do, but for some reason, people think it’s okay to judge women for these choices. (Have you seen how those celebs going au naturel have been talked about? It’s disgusting.)
Clothing, hair, and makeup are all personal choices that help to reflect your personality, in whatever way you want it to. Changing the style because of someone else’s opinion won’t make you look better, because you look better when you’re comfortable and confident – and following the advice of someone who just made you feel bad about yourself isn’t the way to find confidence.
Can we all just agree that we’ll appreciate the style choices of others without trying to “correct” them? This isn’t a math test, it’s just how we want to look, okay?
“Is that your real hair color?”
Have you ever noticed that men don’t really get asked if their hair is its natural color? It took me longer than I’d like to admit to finally make the connection. Men don’t get asked because the question isn’t really about hair dye… It’s about pubes. This question is just the more PC version of “Does the carpet match the drapes?” (Which, by the way, is a super awful line and should never be used. Ever.)
I used to answer this one proudly. I’ve been dying my hair every color imaginable since I was 14 years old. (I’m naturally a platinum blonde, which thankfully takes color really, really well.) But people still ask if the color is obviously fake – purple-haired me got just as many creepy questions as brunette-haired me did.
Repeat after me: “Someone else’s genitals are none of my business unless they want to share them with me.” Okay? Okay.
“Your [insert clothing item or body part here] is distracting to me.”
We hear about this one a lot whenever the subject of school dress codes comes up. Girls are told that their shoulders, their bra straps, and the back of their legs are distracting. They are often pulled out of class and told to cover up – sometimes even sent home to change. This distraction from the student’s education is overlooked (because who likes smart girls, anyway?).
Sadly, that doesn’t really go away when you grow up, either. I remember my girlfriend’s mom telling me one time that I shouldn’t wear shorts when I go out because “it might give some old man a heart attack.” I’ve been told by random strangers that they could see my bra sticking out from under my tank top. I’ve overheard people talking about rape survivors as if their clothing choices were to blame for what happened to them.
Let me just clear this one up: If you are sexualizing someone else’s body, without their consent, it is not their fault that you find them distracting. It’s your own creepiness causing problems for you, and you should really look into that a bit before blaming the victims.