It’s not your job to police my body!

Why people need to stop shaming others, especially based on appearance

This week Yahoo is reporting the story of a woman who was shamed on a beach in Canada for the “crime” of wearing a bikini that didn’t hide her stretch marks. Her response on Facebook has gone viral.

I’m sorry that my stomach isn’t flat and tight. I’m sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I’m NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings.

You’d think that the swell of support for Tanis Jex-Blake and the number of protests such as the bikini sit-ins that were televised on CTV news would indicate that this kind of body shaming was an aberrant behaviour, that it’s dying out and that maybe the cruel people who made the comments are an exception. That we’ve accepted the diversity inherent in human appearance.

Apple and pear diversity by  Alexandre Dulaunoy - shared under Creative Commons license

Apple and pear diversity by Alexandre Dulaunoy – shared under Creative Commons license

Yet you only have to look at the comments on newspaper articles talking about issues like overweight and obesity, or eating disorders, or even some of the coverage of the Tour de France this year to see how sadly, it’s not true. Some people are all too eager to tell others that they aren’t acceptable, that they don’t measure up.

You’re too fat

This one also comes cunningly disguised as “I’m only concerned about your health.” They busily tell you all about how much you’re costing the health service, despite the fact you’ve not even seen your gp or local physician for more than two years, let alone visited a hospital. Not that they’d know as this would involve them actually *listening* and letting you get a word in edgeways. And interestingly, they don’t seem as keen on finding out the impact on healthcare of those people who are suffering osteoporosis and other bone and metabolic diseases due to dietary restrictions they’ve imposed in order to look right on the outside.

You’re too thin

“Don’t you ever eat anything except lettuce leaves?” – Maybe you have a super fast metabolism. Maybe you have a medical condition that makes it hard for you to maintain your weight. Maybe you’re just trying to keep up with the constantly changing rules on how people are supposed to look to be acceptable? Heaven forbid they consider that and miss out on the opportunity to insinuate that you have problems though. Also popular: “Men prefer curves.” Yes, because clearly we should all focus our physical, nutritional and health resources on attracting a mate. It’s not like we have evolved to the point where we can make relationship choices not based on who’s likely to survive long enough to reproduce. Also – how presumptive to assume that you even want to attract men! Maybe you’re married. Maybe you prefer partners of the same gender. Or maybe you don’t want a partner at all. And that’s ok – and certainly no business of theirs.

You have stretchmarks/your body sags too much/you have too many wrinkles

Wow, really? You mean I’m actually starting to show the signs of a normal, mature adult? Hmm what should I do… Should I a) be glad I made it this far and appreciate that I live in a world where in most cases I still have many years ahead of me to enjoy life? or b ) panic and spend all my time and money and effort trying to erase any sign that I might actually be having fun and living life? I mean, who wants to actually have evidence on their face that they can smile? Who wants a few souvenir marks from their pregnancies to remember the time those big grown up kids were so small they could fit through your pelvis?

Advice for shamers

Since there seem to be so many of you who are so keen to pass judgement on others, I have some important advice for you.

Go find one of these:

in the mirror Yes, that’s right. It’s a mirror!

Now go take a long, hard look….

Are you perfect? In every way? Nothing ever niggle at you, maybe when you first get up in the morning and look at yourself with sleep-face?

So what makes you think you have the right to impose judgement on others, seeing as you’re not perfect yourself?

Next time you feel the urge to point out someone’s shortcomings, why not refer to this handy checklist?

Should I shame? A checklist

  • Is this problem with my appearance or somebody else’s?
    • Your problem? Up to you to deal with
    • Their problem? Up to them to deal with – keep your nose out!

See? Simple!

fat saggy and wrinkled. So what?Oh, and to save you the bother of asking those questions in the comments… yes. I am fat. I have stretchmarks and sags and wrinkles. I also have enough of a life that I have better things to do than obsess about them!

 

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I love all things fantasy, from fiction to films to games. Mostly books though. I also love cooking and plus size fashion. Find recommendations for great fantasy reads and general fangirling here! If you want to get in touch with me, the quickest way is by Twitter @dorristheloris

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Posted in feminism

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