Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Body is Not Public Property

This guest post from Sarah Lucy was originally published on her blog, My Brave New World, as well as on emBody, an awesome new blog that addresses all issues surrounding the body.
Things people have said about my body in the last few years:
  • You need to lose weight.  you’re too big.
  • You’re getting too thin.  I’m worried about you.
  • You have fat thighs.  fat fat fat.
  • You have huge boobs.
  • You look Calista-Flockhart-thin.
  • You have a huge butt.
Now just to be clear, these were not comments made in the midst of conversations about bodies.  Each and everyone of these conversations was made completely out of the blue.
And each of them was very upsetting.  (Yes, even the ones that might have seemed complimentary.  Because it was so uncomfortable for someone to comment on my body completely out of the blue.)
When I was in high school I weighed about 140 lbs.  I thought I was fat.  I thought I had huge thighs.  I did beauty pageants when I was a teenager (yes) and my beauty pageant coach (yep) told me a good competing weight for me was 120 lbs.
120 lbs was not a realistic number for my curvy 5′ 9″ frame.  But at the time I thought it was.  I believed my coach when she told me I was 20 lbs too heavy.  I believed my brother when he told me my calves were fat.  And in every picture of me I noticed my enormous thighs.
And then, the summer after my senior year I had a job I really hated, and to deal with it I stress ate myself to a 20 lbs weight gain.  I stayed at that weight for a year and a half, and then the stress of my freshman year of college brought me up another 25 lbs.
I stayed at 185 (about a size 14-16) for about 4 1/2 years.  I hated my body during most of this time.  I had hated it before of course, but now I hated it even more violently.
Until I slowly stopped.
And then, for a year, the weight slowly came off.
I once again, weight about 140 lbs (and wear about a size 4).  I’m not sure if this is my natural weight, or if more weight might come off (because I eat healthier now than I did in high school.)  We shall see.
And now I have people–people who know nothing about my lifestyle or eating habits–telling me I’m too thin.  And half-jokingly asking if I have an eating disorder.
And that’s how I’ve learned that no matter what my body looks like, people will feel entitled to comment on it, to tell me there opinion of it, to tell me that they think my body should be bigger or smaller.
To them I say: my body is not public property.
Unless you’re going to tell me that I look awesome, I don’t want to hear your opinion unless I ask for it.
My body is MINE.  And I don’t give a damn what you think about it.  Let me say that one more time: I DON’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT MY BODY. 
Because you know what?  I fricken love my body.  I love my big boobs, and my tiny waist, and my juicy thighs, and my totally-and-completely untoned calves.  I love the freckles, and the pasty white skin, and I love that going up stairs is easier than it used to be.
And you know what?  I loved it when it was 185 lbs too.  I loved it when my boobs were bigger, and I still had a big curvy butt.  I loved my body when my stomach was another curve, a little buddha belly, instead of flat like it is now.  And so did my boyfriend, who told me on our very first date (awkwardly) that he liked my 185-lb-body.  And then we cuddled till 5:45 the next morning.  (But no kiss, cause I like to play hard to get like that.)
And he’s liked every incarnation, every size my body has been since he met me.
I like to tell him that since he told me that on my first date, I reserve the right to get chubby again if I feel like it.
And here’s the thing:  I was only able to loose 45 lbs. (and keep it off) because I loved my body at its chubbiest, at its biggest, at its most voluptuous.  Because you can’t hate yourself into changing. You can only love yourself into change.
But I’ll talk more about that later.
This post is about the way we talk about bodies.  The way we treat other’s bodies as public property, something to be commented on, scrutinized and evaluated.
When he saw my dramatic weight loss, my brother (the one who told me the last time I weighed 140 lbs that my calves were fat) told our sister that I looked to0 thin.  That my eyes looked too big for my face and they poked out.
She responded by telling him about a time I was really hungry and ate an entire package of bacon in one sitting.
And then he said he was glad I wasn’t anorexic.
I love my brother.  I love pretty much everyone who has inappropriately commented on my body, actually.  I’m not mad at them.  (Not mad at you Reed!  Love you bro!)  I’m mad that we live in a society that teaches us to make unsolicited comments about peoples’ bodies.  I’m mad that we live in a society that teaches people that it’s okay to tell people that their bodies need to be bigger or smaller
So kindly keep your opinions to yourself.

Sarah-lucy blogs about her soap-operatic life story and adventures as a working actress at My Brave New World. 

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