It’s not often that I receive emails from male fans, so when this one popped up, my curiosity was piqued. The writer agreed to let me share it, in hopes that maybe you all can offer him some advice on how to resolve an innocent encounter gone horribly awry. Read on:
Dear Leslie, My name is Kevin and I recently moved here from Scotland. When I googled "women and body image" I discovered the Locker Room Diaries website and thought you might have some good insight on an experience I had involving an American woman's image of her body.
I met a really attractive and intelligent woman at a party a few weeks ago. It was a public event at an art gallery. She was a high school teacher in her early thirties. We had been talking for a good half hour and really seemed to be hitting it off. We had even made tentative plans to meet for coffee sometime.
Then, things suddenly went downhill. I commented that she had a “really nice hourglass figure”. I thought she would take it as a compliment but instead she became deeply offended. She snapped, “Oh really….well perhaps I should do some plus size modeling!” I went into damage control mode and tried to clarify my comments but I think I only exacerbated things when I used the term “healthy”. With a look of complete disgust, WHAP!, she slapped my face and departed.
I will never forget those agonizing moments in the immediate aftermath, as I was standing there alone rubbing my cheek, drawing some judgmental stares from onlookers. Needless to say, it was not my proudest moment.
She had a classic hourglass figure - large bust, narrow waist, shapely hips/legs. I guess she had interpreted “hourglass” as meaning big/overweight/full figured. I just thought it meant shapely and well proportioned. When I told a female friend about this she shook her head and said it was never a good idea to comment on a woman’s figure when meeting her for the first time, even if I thought it was complimentary.
I do have her email address. Do you think I should send her an apology note or should I interpret the slap in the face as a definitive way of saying she wants no further contact?
I wrote Kevin back, telling him that while I certainly don’t think he deserved to be slapped – that’s a bit soap opera-esque, no? – as an American woman, I do understand where the lady may have been coming from. Because of American society's wildly garbled ideals of what is beautiful or sexy, many women do misconstrue "hourglass" or "curvy" as "big." I told him I think sending her an email could be a nice gesture, although I'd be very careful how he words it. That said, I kind of think she is the one who owes HIM an apology - for hitting him!
What do you think? WSKD? (What Should Kevin Do?)