Originally published February 23, 2017 on the Huffington Post.
“Spending your money on shoes and handbags is irresponsible.”
“Those spiritual meditation classes you go to are stupid.”
“Your kid is a whiny brat because you don’t discipline him.”
Even reading these comments may feel like a punch in the stomach. And for good reason: they are completely out-of-line.
We've all been taught the golden rule--do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the principle behind the saying, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
This is one of the most basic principles that our society operates on. You probably learned it before you learned to tie your shoes.
But when it comes to plus size women's bodies, their health, and their choices, it seems like our society has completely brain-dumped this rule. People feel entitled to make really intrusive comments, and to provide unsolicited opinions, when it comes to our bodies.
And frankly, it's rude.
We can all acknowledge that it’s inappropriate to comment bluntly on someone else’s finances, religion, or parenting style. Why, then, do some people still find it appropriate to make very blunt, pointed statements about the bodies of plus size women?
“You have joint pain because you’re overweight.”
“You should spend your time differently and put your health first.”
“Those clothes don’t flatter your body, you should cover up more.”
These statements are also out-of-line, and feel like a punch in the stomach when made to plus size women.
People might mean well when they comment on your body, your health, and your choices. But the truth is that making comments like the ones listed above is rude, intrusive, and disrespectful. Plus size women have a right to be treated better.
I’ve dealt with this personally, and I’ve figured out how to politely but firmly shut down people who feel the need to make remarks like this. It’s not complicated, it’s not scathing, it’s not witty. But when you say it firmly, with respect for yourself and for the one who needs to hear it, it’s extremely powerful:
“It’s my body, my health, my choices ― and those are none of your business.”
Sometimes it’s our family members that need to hear this. Sometimes it’s our romantic partners or spouses, which is heartbreaking to even consider. Sometimes it’s our friends, or coworkers, or yoga instructors.
The bottom line is that unless you explicitly ask someone for their opinion, they shouldn’t be giving it to you.
And just like when your friend shows you her heinous kitchen remodel that she just dropped $50,000.00 on, even then it is sometimes more polite and respectful for people to consider your feelings, and your humanity, before responding too bluntly or honestly.
You deserve that. And if you’re not getting it, all you have to do is ask for it.