Trigger warning for fat hatred, sensations related to eating disorders, and male entitlement.
Tonight I went to Taboo with Chris and some friends. It was "masquerade night," according to their advertising, so I put together mask/headpiece setups for me and my friend Amie. I figured, hey, in addition to being pretty and crafty and fun, wearing a mask will help with that whole "if I go out in public I might barf on myself" issue. I was right-with my face covered the whole thing was surprisingly easy.
While we were at the show, we found out that there was body painting being done by Ace Angels International. Amie and I both decided to get torso paintings done to match our masks. This meant, of course, that we were topless except for pasties/tape over our nipples. I would like to say that I was thrilled with the professionalism and skill of the Ace Angels team. The artists, photographer and informational team made everyone feel very comfortable and were supportive of anyone who wanted to get involved with this sensual, artistic endeavor. Additionally, the paint jobs themselves were excellent, and we got countless compliments on them, as well as our masks and general attitudes of bravery and fun. Being a public event, of course there were some creepy people, some lecherous types, and some disapproving glances from a few random passers by, but overall the atmosphere at the event itself was very positive, and none of the organizers or vendors were in any way negative or gross.
I got painted first while Amie was at another booth, and she came over and got hers done a bit later. While I was getting my paint job, two women came to the booth and were discussing with the booth operators and artists that they were from Tequila Nightclub and were getting painted for the event, and going back to work after the show closed at midnight. It probably goes without saying, but I'll mention the fact that these women were both conventionally beautiful. They both got torso pieces done-one kept her bra on, the other was completely topless. The Ace Angels photographer also mentioned to me that they were hosting a VIP lounge at Tequila, and that all their body painting customers were welcome. He said that "Miss Taboo" (the winner of a mini-pageant specifically for event staff) would be there in her "winning outfit" (which consisted of torso paint and boy short panties). Basically, the premise seemed to be "hey, topless painted women, come to this bar where there will be more topless painted women and we'll all have fun." I was vaguely disinterested, thinking I'd wait and see how the rest of the night went, but filed the information away.
After we had both gotten our paint jobs, Amie and I were in line at the bar with our boyfriends when we were approached by a man representing Tequila. He gave us some more detailed information about the VIP party, including the fact that we had to arrive before midnight and give a password at the door. Very cheesy stuff, but hey, it's a nightclub. Anyway, the group of us discussed it and decided that we'd go for a little while. If you're all dressed up (or painted up) and have the opportunity to go dancing, you may as well take it, right?
When we arrived at the club, Chris and I went inside while Amie and her boyfriend went to the Tim Horton's next door to meet up with the rest of our group. They were going to meet us inside once they'd gotten everyone together. After getting past the bouncer at the entrance, the coat check, and a second bouncer just inside the club, all of whom saw exactly what I was wearing, Chris and I were standing in line at the ATM, and I was getting "looks." One woman gave me a thumbs-up from a couple of metres away and mouthed, "you look awesome," a few people just looked me up and down either appreciatively or disgustedly but made no comment, and I heard one woman from behind me yelling, "OH MY GOD she's not wearing a shirt!!!" At that I turned around and replied, "Nope, just the paint" with a big smile on my face. Apparently she had nothing to say to me, just about me, because she turned back to her group with a look of disbelief on her face. Most of them were laughing, and one man said, "She could have at least painted that gut to hide it." Naturally, this bit of comedic genius was met with guffaws and giggles from the assembled elite. I shook my head and turned back in the direction I had been facing.
Within about 60 seconds of that, my arm was grabbed and I jerked away, then turned to find a very muscular man in a suit standing to my left. He proceeded to call me "sweetie" (because coming up in my blind spot and touching me just wasn't quite violating enough) and tell me that I needed to put a shirt on. I was kind of confused at this, not to mention having no clue who this dude was, and tried to explain to him that I had just been at Taboo and been told that there was a VIP lounge related to the event and that I had been told by event organisers and representatives of Tequila Nightclub (I didn't say it quite so pretentiously, just wanted to make sure that I mention Tequila Nightclub enough times that Google will pick up on how disgusting and anti-woman Tequila Nightclub is) that I should show up exactly as I was. His response was, and I quote:
"I really don't care what you were told. I'm the head of security here, and the owner of this club just asked me to come tell you that you need to put a shirt on. We're getting complaints. You can't be in here looking like that." (Emphasis original.)
At this point I was feeling a bit triggered, to say the least. I wanted out of there. While I was getting my coat from the coat check, he was hovering behind me and trying to usher me out a side door. Trying not to fall to pieces, I asked Chris to go outside, where I could see the rest of our group standing in line, and tell them what was going on. Suddenly Mr. "Head of Security" said, "Oh, there are people meeting you right now?" and disappeared from my side. By the time I actually got outside, apparently the rest of the group had been told that either due to a miscommunication or "something," the dress code was not what we had been told.
Apparently all of this was communicated politely enough that when I tried to tell everyone what had been said while they were outside, their responses made me feel like I was being brushed off as paranoid.
So, right now I'm a big pile of "triggered" and am going to bed. I am typing this only with the aid of Lorazepam and staying upright with sheer force of rage. I have that lovely sensation that I haven't missed at all since I've been dealing with my disordered eating, where I'm hungry and know I should eat something, but the thought of food makes me panic and twists my stomach into knots, and I know if I try to eat anything it won't stay down.
Tomorrow I'm going to write down the bare-bones details of the events (basically this blog post without personal commentary) and this will be Dealt With.
Regardless of whether there really was some grand scale miscommunication wherein everyone I spoke to at the original event was somehow misled, the way that bouncer handled the situation was Not Okay. And seeing as how their freaking waitresses were at the body paint booth at the same time I was, I'm inclined to think that the only miscommunication was the weight limit in their dress code.
At best, this situation is an epic marketing and PR failure. At worst, it's exactly what it looks like.