I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Grocery Shopping While Fat


Grocery shopping is simply a part of life. No matter what is going on in the world or. your own life, you will eventually need supplies and food. Growing up I didn’t really have grocery shopping modeled for me in a normal way. My father worked at Gemco, which had a grocery department, and would do the majority of our shopping on his paydays before leaving work. When Gemco shut down entirely, my dad worked for a grocery store and then a grocery outlet. This is when I first got a fuller grasp of what grocery shopping actually was. My family was poor and it was the eighties so there were a lot of yellow generic boxes with black lettering. Brand names rarely made it into our cart or home. My parents didn’t take any sort of pride or enjoyment in cooking either, it was all simply necessity. 

Years later when I met my abuser, and after I had dropped out of school, he would force me to go grocery shopping with him and make him steak dinners and such, I was 14 years old (he was 21). He expected and demanded that I act a certain way in public with him. I hated every second. Because public restrooms are gendered, he would never let me use them, lest I try to escape his clutches. This created a lot of stress and tension. He forced me to write bad checks a few times as well, it was humiliating when the grocery store finally caught on. We didn’t have cookbooks in the house and the internet was years off from being in homes, so I mostly relied on McCormick seasoning packets for recipes and preparation instructions in general. 

When I escaped my abuser for good I would do quick grocery runs with my roommate but that didn’t last either. I soon relied almost entirely on lean cuisine’s frozen entrees, Cuervo Gold tequila (bought by friends until I was of age), Taco Bell’s #1 combo meal, occasional mall food, and the kindness of my grandma who would pack me a lunch for work any time she saw me, no matter what time of day or night. It was the late nineties by then and I was working at a music store in a mall and a music industry magazine on weekends promoting new artists. Food at that time was something I didn’t want to think about. I struggled with anorexia since I was 14 and while I didn’t know it then, it was a way for me to feel some semblance of control in my life that carried on into my late twenties. 

When I moved in with B in ’99, I really had to start from scratch and figure things out in the real world so to speak. We figured things out together which was wonderful. We started with lots of frozen things because it was easier to prepare. Looking back I’m really impressed with our early years together, we really were a team. When I would make quick grocery runs on my own I would be anxious but it wasn’t unbearable and I didn’t yet know as much about anxiety and C-PTSD and triggers and stuff. When we went to the store together we would focus on each other and chat and laugh the whole time. On my own I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible. Little things started to happen in those solo trips though, other shoppers would give me death stares and seemed to go out of their way to block my path. Figuring it was just coincidence or folks didn’t see me, I didn’t think much of it. Soon though it all escalated.

I really started to notice an escalation in hate and harassment when I was vegan for five years. This is when I, and my then husband, really learned how to cook. I got real into Alton Brown and Rachel Ray, despite who and what they are today, they really made cooking accessible to me then and I will never forget that. This is also when I first set foot in a Whole Foods. I came home very upset once after going to Whole Foods (WF from now on), a woman had hit my cart with hers and then later trapped me in an aisle with her cart and because of an ill placed pillar I couldn’t get away. She didn’t say anything to me, but it was plain as day that there was pure hate in her eyes. My then husband insisted it was some “psycho” (we used that word so much in the 90’s, how embarrassing) and an isolated incident, nothing to worry about. It was not isolated though. This was the early 00’s and the “Obesity Epidemic” was in the news everywhere, and there I was a size 26/28 just trying to live my life. 

Whole Foods became a saving grace for the ingredients I needed for my recipes, but the harassment got so much worse. People would put things in my cart, take things out of my cart, make remarks about things in my cart, even take my whole damn cart. People would make full eye contact with me and then hit me with their cart quite pointedly. And I do mean hit me and not my cart. They would knock things on the ground beside me and then give me the stink eye as though I had done it. They would say things to me in check out their mothers would be embarrassed to repeat! I’ve been hit with strollers and elbows too. Gawd do haters love to throw a fucking elbow, I swear! Not once did any have remorse or offer an apology. I’m sure most if not all assumed they were doing me a massive favor by harassing and assaulting me. At that point in my life I simply didn’t have the self esteem to fight back or speak up. Any time I would share what happened with others they would insist it was a one time thing and not to worry about it. 

After my divorce, I worked for a few startups and didn’t do much grocery shopping for myself, preferring takeout or restaurant meals with friends. Then I got maybe the worst job of my life at a startup that refused outside services and instead paid me to go to WF every week (sometimes more) and get two full carts of groceries for the small staff in that office. This is when things took a severe turn. To me it was plain as day that someone who had two full shopping carts with the store employees assisting me in fulfilling my list that it wasn’t for me alone, but that doesn’t matter when you’re a hardcore, WF shopping, fat hater. Once in checkout with my two carts this woman in her late 60’s walked over from 3 checkouts away to stand very close next to me and watch as I pulled each item out of the cart and place it on the belt. I mean she was standing maybe 12 inches from me with the sternest glare you’ve ever seen. This was almost $2k in groceries and this lady really and genuinely thought I was some monster who would belly the lot of it in a few hours time. The cashier was hella confused, but I knew her deal. We all do, right? You know why someone is behaving that way around you when you’re fat or otherwise marginalized in a way that doesn’t suit them. And that’s really all it is, it isn’t about me as a person, it’s about my existence and visibility and how dare I or anyone appear so revolting in the presence of WF shoppers?! The nerve! Ha-ha!

When I left that job I swore I would never shop at a WF again. I switched to Trader Joe’s for a time and loved it, but the harassment didn’t subside there, and their parking lots are always a nightmare. There is something about WF and TJ shoppers, and entitlement/elitism that makes me not fit with their vibes I guess. When I moved back to my hometown for a few years I would pass a WF store on my way home everyday. After a particularly exhausting day and train ride from the city, I decided to check out the hot bar at WF and it was glorious! I loved their pot roast, hadn’t had it since my grandma passed away and would never cook such a thing for myself. I ended up hitting up that hot bar at least twice a month for awhile. It was a sort of saving grace when things went south at a job I actually liked. I never got the same harassment at that particular location, but I was usually in and out before anyone could clock me anyway. 

After years of anxiety, panic attacks, harassment and more, in December 2018 I finally made the switch to delivery only grocery shopping. I had just moved into my first apartment on my own and had invited friends over for a holiday cocktail evening with lots of tasty treats and bites all made by me. I went bananas, too! I made a blackberry based vodka cocktail thing with lustre dust in nice glass bottles I gave as gifts that year. At that point I simply didn’t have the time to shop but still needed supplies. My little cocktail party was a hit and my homemade concoctions were enjoyed by all. I have a family owned grocery store about a block away from my apartment, but I rarely go in there unless I absolutely have to. Grocery delivery has been such a gift to myself. I would often get sensory overload in grocery stores even without the harassment and it could trigger a panic attack. I had a bf once joke about it because I said the checkout lanes at Target feel like they have heat lamps above them. I really just couldn’t put myself through all that again (or date anyone so rude, selfish, and callous either).

When the pandemic first hit I felt even better about my grocery delivery life. Even when shortages forced some random substitutions, my delivery placed did well in communicating and crediting and such. Then my gallbladder went bad on me and what I could eat shrank down to like 5 single items of food. Knowing I could rely on that grocery delivery gave me such peace of mind. Like, hello, nobody can bully or harass me if I don’t leave my fucking house! It felt like a win when nothing else in the world could. I realize that some may see this as letting the haters win, but I don’t. Even without direct harassment grocery stores were never an easy thing for me to handle. I am glad that I have other options now. I am also very glad that more people have access to delivery options. It really is a huge amount of bullshit and stress off my shoulders and that was all before I had long covid. Now I cannot imagine trying to do a full shop in person, I would likely pass out.

I did recently enter a grocery store for the first time. I had to buy some supplies for a work happy hour. I messaged one of our EA’s in the office to ask her if anything had changed, what should I expect and explained that I didn’t want to look like a weirdo. She misunderstood my message and brought it up in front of my whole team! I was mortified but only briefly as my team is awesome and once I explained they completely understood my concern. And I survived! I didn’t enjoy it at all, like not in any measurable amount what so ever. I had a few moments of near-panic but talked myself through and I didn’t need much stuff so it was a quick trip. I don’t plan on doing that again if I can help it, but glad to know I can manage it still if needed. I think spending so much time literally alone has become helpful in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. I know right away when I’m being triggered now when before I would never have enough time between recognizing a trigger and a panic attack coming on. I think anything affecting my peace is immediately apparent now whereas years ago I would mask and try to be normal or whatever before actually taking care of my need to feel safe. 

Having said aaaaallllll of this, the next time someone tries to fuck with me in a grocery store is getting an elbow thrown their way before the words get to leave their dry-ass lips! I’m done! Ha!


I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

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