Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and to have their own bodily autonomy and respect.
There are no exceptions to this: there are no ifs or buts. It’s a basic human right and one that is often eroded by the opinions of other people. The core of my self respect and self esteem isn’t as easily undermined by others as it used to be. However, nobody is bulletproof. There are a few things that get to me – one of them in particular is to do with how people refer to, chastise and concern-troll people with bodies that don’t fit their ideas of what is ‘healthy’ or ‘normal’.
For me, this is about my size, about how aware I am that every single day people might look at my body and make assumptions – about who I am, what I do or what I don’t do. In the simplest terms, I have reclaimed the word ‘fat’ to mean just that – a body that isn’t thin. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy exercise or that I have a problem with food. My body is my body – it allows me to swim, to dance, to feel, to smell and see and experience the physical world. I’m always joyful that I do all these things.
I won’t get into the health thing, because for me, that’s not really the point. That is part of concern-trolling, using concern as a way to pity people and insinuate that they are somehow lesser than you, or that their world-view is the only possible world-view. You can’t tell anything about anyone’s health by what they look like. We all have ailments and issues – to be human is to vulnerable to all kinds of things.
I’m going to say that the worst (or sadly, one of the most rebellious) things that a woman, a plus size woman to boot, can say: I make no apologies for my size, for who I am, for how I look. I make no apologies that I can dance and skip, that I can eat in public, that I am writing these things for all to see. I make no apologies for supporting the right of everybody, no matter their shape, size, ability, gender, background, ethnicity or sexuality, to have bodily dignity and respect. I make no apologies for looking in the mirror and smiling at my reflection. Children smile at their reflection: we forget to do this as adults. So smile – you are beautiful.
We make it harder on each other when we decide who does and doesn’t get to have beauty and dignity: we don’t have the right to decide that someone’s existence is lesser than ours. I believe that everyone has their own inner and outer beauty, and to be human is to be interesting, flawed and unique.
Golda Poretsky says it best:
‘Body acceptance means, as much as possible, approving of and loving your body, despite its “imperfections”, real or perceived. That means accepting that your body is fatter than some others, or thinner than some others, that your eyes are a little crooked, that you have a disability that makes walking difficult, that you have health concerns that you have to deal with — but that all of that doesn’t mean that you need to be ashamed of your body or try to change it. Body acceptance allows for the fact that there is a diversity of bodies in the world, and that there’s no wrong way to have one.’
Photos by © Sarah Ward at Stars and Rainbows.