Like in Every. Fucking. Way.
I can’t believe or say this enough. And you have to say it and think it and work to believe it because there are a hell of a lot of messages out there that tell us. ‘Your body…here are your choices.’
And you can never win. The choices and desirable goals and the social ideals change. They change all the damn time. Just in terms of having a desirable aesthetic as a woman growing up I’ve been told I don’t measure up because:
– The waif look is it.
– No wait…The supermodel look is it.
– No wait…The athletic look is it.
– No.. no…The tiny waist and big butt is it.
Be tanned…be pale…be tall…be slim…be short and sassy…skinny over strong…strong over skinny. Be healthy…but healthy has to look like x, y or z. Lift weights, do cardio, eat this and that or this and not that or that but not this. Show off your body but be modest but don’t be slutty but be sexy but don’t have any sexual experience. Eat meat, no meat, only meat, keto, sugar/dairy/gluten/dairy free. Wear make up, go natural, take care of yourself, don’t be vain, have big boobs but not fake boobs. If you drink you’re consuming pointless calories and unhealthy. If you don’t, you’re a boring lame ass. You should remove all body hair, no body hair, certain types of body hair, grown your hair long, cut it short, style it, let it be natural.
Aren’t we bored yet?
Even if you haven’t given much thought to how you should look or eat or move. Or if you think you haven’t…the messages are everywhere. And personally I have never, ever measured up. I got deep into this in my post about diet culture back in March. There’s a link at the bottom if you want to go forth and read that bad boy.
You know what though? You don’t have to do any of it. Like none of it. The only person you have to take into account is yourself. We are sold a lie that to be a successful human you MUST be doing something about your weight or body or image. You need to be ‘working on it’.
And that is fine. IF you are doing it to meet your needs and goals. You want to lose some fat and show off your muscles? Great! That’s a goal for me. But it took walking away from outside expectations to get there and it’s only one of my many goals for myself and it’s not even nearly the most important. I can’t believe how much more time I have for other pursuits and interests now that I don’t spend all my time thinking about my diet and my exercise routine.
If you don’t want to lose any fat or get stronger or leaner or any kind of anything but just want to be…amazing! The things you achieve are no less impressive because it isn’t diet, exercise or health related.
Fuck that shit.
We all get to make that choice. There is no place for health trolling or body shaming or comparison bullying. There’s no place to pretend concern around someone because of how they look. Nobody knows shit about anyone’s life, goals or journey so far. Everyone engages in some sort of unhealthy behaviour…everyone. But the ways in which our bodies look seem to be a more acceptable topic of critique. Eyes on your own prize at all times. Unless it’s to big someone up for being an awesome human. Then of course…do that.
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time some people spend gazing at and judging other people…especially their bodies or what diet they are on or what their health stuff might be. Who on earth has time for that? To me that’s playing small. That’s surface shit. It’s a waste of time and we are all better than that.
As always…this circles back to what I want for Tiny Dictator. He’s four. What messages do I want for him growing up?
- You can’t hate yourself happy or healthy or at peace with yourself. Go forth with love and compassion. For yourself and for others.
- Your health is no ones else’s business and no ones else’s health is yours. You can not know anyone’s mental or physical health by looking at them. Give people a break and let them figure out their own shit. You get to do that too. Without judgement.
- Nobody needs to comment on anyone else’s body. Their pursuits or their accomplishments or their kindness or their bravery or their resilience or their creativity? Of course! Comment on those badass bits all day long.
- There is nothing wrong with having fat. It’s not the worst thing in the world. Being an arsehole? Maybe. Fat? Nope. Making fun of people’s weight is easy and cheap.
- Comparison never works. You get to be your own wonderous self in your own wonderous way and so does everyone else. Be inspired but do not let comparison steal your joy or your sense of self.
- You get to change your mind. You can change your hair, your weight, your diet, your goals, your movement preferences…you learn more, you try more…you may find stuff you like more.
- Think it. Don’t say it. And if it’s not a very kind thought…maybe ask yourself why you feel that way. Everyone is very aware of what their bodies look or act like. No one needs to have it constantly pointed out or be judged for it.
- You deserve to be respected as a human being no matter what your body looks like or how you dress or wear your hair or the colour of your skin or your height or your ability. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is of their lifestyle or body size, they still deserve basic respect.
- Be brave. You do not have to engage in fat chat or sexist and racist jokes or critiques on other’s bodies. There are way more interesting things to talk about and more clever ways to be funny. Change the subject or walk away. Or if you can, question it. You don’t have to call everyone out but you are allowed to make your point. Most people don’t want to be rude or mean. Mean people are just sad and struggling people.
- Nobody’s perfect. No one should be expected to be. Just try your best and keep on learning and growing.
I’m working on all of those messages, all of the time. It’s takes constant mental gymnastics to question and unlearn what I assumed or was assured was right or normal for most of my life. I hope TD gets a chance at a head start at this stuff. Even some of it. He’s in a privileged place to do so. He’s a white, middle class male. He gets to walk through the world with so much less judgement automatically. He’s in a great position to do things differently. It’s my role to lead by example. That is my privilege.
At the end of the day I’m just over here trying to live my best life and get myself as free as possible. And I want that for anyone living on this wee speck of dust in our universe. Freedom to decide on anything to do with your body is kind of the point.
Your body, your choice. Always and forever.
We got this.
- Melissa Toler, Georgie Fear and Lucy Sewell on Social Media do a lot of good work and posts around this.
- James Fell also wrote a brilliant article about it here.
If you haven’t read my post about diet culture you can find it here.