An open letter to people who comment on other people’s body without warrant. It wasn’t asked for. It isn’t necessary. It’s not your place.
Dear people who comment on my body,
Yes, I know my body shape and size have changed over the years. At times I’ve been ‘too thin’, at times I’ve been ‘just right’ or “HEALTHY” in your eyes. But did you know, that every time you’ve commented on body without me asking you to, you’ve caused me inner turmoil and panic? I know you mean well. I know you’ve come from a place of concern or even a place of excitement for how ‘good’ I’m doing. But to be honest, your words hurt.
Comments on my body, in any light, positive or negative, make me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the room, in the situation, around you, and in my own body. They put an unnecessary focus on aesthetics and perpetuate the societal agenda that people are only as valuable, worthy, and meaningful as how they look. You contribute directly to the demise of generations of women (and men) that are growing up in a world where your outer appearance is valued over character, kindness, and compassion for others.
Whether I look to thin, too big, or average in your opinion…I don’t really care. Keep your comments to yourself. Whether it makes you feel better about yourself to put me down or point things out about my body…I don’t really care. Keep your comments to yourself.
As someone who has always been very self-conscious of the way I look and the way I feel within my own skin, any attention drawn to my outer appearance shakes my to my core. While I don’t necessarily love, my body I am working towards a place of what I’d like to call indifferent acceptance. I want to respect my body for what it is and what it does, but for the most part, I’d sort of like to forget it’s there. So when you tell me how healthy I look, comment on my weight gain, or remark about how strong my legs look, I don’t take those as compliments. In fact, when I am connecting with someone I hope they are focusing on ME, who I truly am as a person, NOT what I look like on the outside.
Whether your intentions are pure, positive, meant to be kind, or not, I am telling you your comments on my body are not wanted. They weren’t asked for. They aren’t necessary. It’s not your place to judge me for what I look like.
Many people, on either side of the weight and body size spectrum, experience comments about their physicality on a daily basis. Most of these comments, I can guarantee, were not asked for and did not leave them feeling any better about their already complicated relationship with their bodies.
What makes you think that laughing at a morbidly obese person at the grocery store is okay? What makes you think telling a thin person to ‘eat a sandwich’ is okay? What makes you think body shaming yourself in front of others is okay? NONE of it is okay. In fact, it’s harmful. It astounds me that as advanced as we are as a society, that we still have this HYPER focus on people’s appearances.
We judge, we assume, we size up (literally), we ridicule, and we condemn people simply based on how they look. It’s happened to me. And it’s probably happened to YOU.
So that’s why I am writing this letter. It’s a reminder. To think before you speak. I can’t control your thoughts, your judgements, or your actions, but I can put this message out there in the hopes that stops someone from commenting on my body (and other people’s’ bodies) in any manner.
See people beyond their exterior.
Value people for more than their aesthetics.
And to those of you out there who have been told you’re too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too muscular, too lean, too bulky, too large, too small, too lanky, too average for godsake…know this: You owe NO explanations to anyone. You are YOU….beyond your body, beyond your physical size. You’re here and you MATTER.
I do too.
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