“Why are you torturing yourself?” the man asked as I walked by, catching my breath after my run in 80% humidity, 80-degrees-feels-like-86 San Juan.
“You’re so skinny.”
Not fair. Getting skinnier is not on the list of reasons why I torture myself with running.
I smiled, trying to play along as I could tell this was not an opportunity to educate a local man about what is and is not appropriate to say to complete strangers on the street.
“You need to eat something. Some meat is pretty,” he said.
I walked away, realizing ignoring him was my only option if I wanted to hang on to the good mood I had on my last day in Puerto Rico.
Then, when I had to turn around and go back the other way, passing him again, he called after me.
“Beautiful legs! But some more meat would be better.”
And while, being a woman, I am privy to the disgusting culture of men body-shaming women on a daily basis, this man’s incessant comments drove the point home more simply than the typical whistling and shouting and look-at-me-because-I-have-something-important-to-say-just-because-I’m-a-man-and-you’re-inferior-to-me stuff we get every day: a woman would never call after a man she didn’t know, “Hey baby! You look great but you’d look even better if you lost a few pounds.” Or, “Hot! But put on some muscle and you’d be even sexier!” This just doesn’t happen.
As I left the man behind me and concentrated on bettering myself physically and mentally for my own–and mine alone–benefit, I answered the man’s question in my head: Why do I torture myself with running?
So I can get away from you.