Please Keep My Body Out of Your Mouth

In the age of body positivity, talking about our bodies openly and without shame seems to be a growing thing. People can self-identify as “fat” or “BBW” or basically anything they want, even in terms that used to be offensive. And, while I think this is a great thing, I think some people are getting the wrong idea.

You see, I think that simply by taking up a little more space than a size 4, people take my body as a conversation piece. And I can’t speak for other women, but I’m sure they feel the same regardless of size.

Now, this is obviously mainly the cause of terrible Tinder experiences and catcalling, but I have to wonder if people are getting a teensy bit confused about what the body positivity movement means. Telling random women that you “love curves” or “love a real woman” or “love a girl with a little meat on her bones” is not only problematic, it’s incredibly demeaning.

I’m sure that people who say these things have the best of intentions (at least I tell myself this in order to sleep at night) but commenting on people’s bodies is just rude, unless you’re intimate with them. I may not be a size 2, but you know nothing about my body and its story. I could be coming off losing 100 pounds and still very sensitive, or proud. I could have just gained 50 pounds and be insecure about it. Or, ya know, I could just want to be treated like a person and have you talk to me about something else.

Taking up a little bit more (or even less) than the space we’re “given” is not a crime nor a conversation piece. I’m happy you like curvy women, I guess, but that’s not on my checklist of a perfect potential partner and is probably going to get you nowhere.

I’m not blaming the body positivity movement for this at all. Like most thing, I think it’s something that was born out of wanting a safe space for all people and has just been taken so wrongly by some idiots who have been told that girls and women are nothing but walking pleasure boxes. Compliments in the form of cat calls or objectifications are just that, no matter how well-intentioned.

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Maybe it’s that I’m not as comfortable with my body or not even sure that I would know how to describe it in terms of how I would identify it. Maybe some perv on the sidewalk calling me curvy sounds vaguely familiar to my cousins’ friends asking me how many rolls my stomach has at the beach and will ruin my whole day. Or maybe, I just want to walk to work without thinking about my body.

Believe or not, people don’t always look a certain way out of an act of protest or to be commented on. So you’re allowed to be as positive about your body as you want, just keep mine out of the conversation.

Kristin
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  • Thank you for this! My weight fluctuates regularly in small amounts, but did so dramatically during one year of my life in which I gained about 40 lbs. When I lost it all in college the next year, people’s comments were RIDICULOUS. They didn’t understand why I got so angered when they were complimenting my body, not criticizing it. “You look so good” and “You lost so much weight” and “What have you been doing?” are all on the list. But to me all I heard was: I’m taking tabs on your body. I’m taking tabs on your body. Even though I lost weight, I still felt uncomfortable being assessed. Even my closest friends, lovely as they are, are boggled by why this bothers me and haven’t really respected my request for no comments, please (unless I initiate the conversation/ask for their thoughts).

    Throughout college my weight still vacillated 5-15 lbs regularly (still does, go figure! Bodies!), but hovered around what had been my average weight before that one year. Yet I am, in some ways, DEFINED by that one year. Before I gained and lost noticeable weight, few people cared to comment on my body. But today–FIVE years after returning to my average weight–I STILL get comments from family and friends regularly about my body. Even though I only see some of them at Christmas and Thanksgiving (I see them every fucking Thanksgiving) what sticks is that one year when I was fat. They seem to remember this version of me and not the version of me I’ve been for the past for years. This is incredibly, massively painful, despite their good intentions.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me a phrase to describe this frustration: Bodies are not talking points.

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