For some reason, this story sprang to mind today, although it happened some time ago.

One evening, I was walking along Main Street when a very jacked up car filled with ruffians drove by. As they passed me, the windows went down and the men started shouting:

“Oink! Oink!”

They accompanied the calls with snarfling noises, which I believe were meant to bring the thought of pigs to mind. I actually looked over my shoulder to see if there was a cop behind me, when I realized that they were oinking at me.

Hrm, I thought, what was that about? Why would you “oink” at someone who isn’t a cop? Do I look like a cop? Am I wearing a Police Activities League shirt or something?

And then, I realized. They were oinking at me because they thought I was fat, because I was strolling down the street eating an ice cream cone and enjoying the last of the lingering daylight. They were, it occurred to me, trying to insult me, or perhaps to shame me. Unfortunately for them, “fat” is not a pejorative word to me.

“Guess what,” I shouted, exploding into Headlands where I saw some friends, “I just got oinked!”

I explained what had happened, my face aglow, and my mouth twitching with laughter, but despite these obvious signs of merriment, my friends clearly thought that I was devastated by the drive by oinking.

“Oh,” someone said, “that’s awful. Who would do that?”

“Don’t you pay them any mind,” someone else said. “Who gives a shit what other people think.”

“No, you guys,” I said, “it was AWESOME! They actually thought that they were insulting me by oinking at me? I mean, who seriously thinks that! Pigs are spectacular! I am so honored to be compared to a pig, they are wicked smart and super clean and just amazing. And they taste good! I love that people thinking oinking at me is going to reduce me to a quivering blob of fatty jelly!”

“Oh. Well, then, I guess it’s good that you got oinked,” a friend finally said, after a long pause.

Yes, yes it was. It actually made my week to get oinked. It’s such an empowering moment when someone tries to insult you and you just find it amusing, don’t you think? It’s a sad thing that we live in a culture where fat women are expected to be ashamed of themselves, to hate their bodies. But the instant you see an insult as a compliment, you’ve won.

It can take a long time to get to that point, but when you do, it makes such a difference in how you view the world.