A letter I wrote today:
I’ve been using (and loving!) the YWCA downtown since this summer. I am consistently impressed with the professionalism, organization, cleanliness and respect with which I am treated. I have nothing but good things to say about the staff.
Today I encountered a problem that, while minor in itself – no one was physically harmed and the peace was not disrupted – it could lead to escalating behaviors that could, through no fault of the staff’s, create a hostile environment for people who, like me, are larger than average.
As I was leaving around 1:10 pm, a girl/woman (not sure if she was an adult) was talking loudly to her friend and began discussing my body. It was clear she was making several assumptions about my character and lifestyle, and all of them devalued my worth as a human being. I got the impression she was doing this to impress the man she was talking to.
As it says in your mission, “The YWCA of Minneapolis stands for a fully-inclusive community where each person is healthy and valued, and where racial justice, gender equality and human dignity are promoted and sustained through bold and effective women’s leadership.”
There’s a fair amount of female body politics (looks, nonverbal behaviors) that goes on in the women’s locker room that I don’t expect or believe staff can help. But to go so far as to loudly discuss my body – or anyone else’s – is completely unacceptable under any circumstances, regardless of how that person looks or what assumptions you might make (reasonable or not) about that person’s life choices.
In order to reduce such behaviors, I would like to request that you issue a reminder to your membership that respect for human dignity includes being respectful to people of different sizes than ourselves. All members that show up come out of dedication to personal improvement and health, and all deserve equal respect for doing so.