Who Appoints the Body Judges?

I just read the story of Andi Viveros.  Andi won the title of prom queen in her school.  What makes an already special story more special is that Andi is, according to the story, the first ever transgender prom queen. Despite the fact that she clearly identifies as female and obviously goes to great lengths to present as a female, the article referred to her using male pronouns.  The comments were worse and I got progressively more angry until I read a comment that said “You are a man. Deal with it.”.

I lost it.  I started yelling alone in my house.

Who are these people?  How dare they?  Gender is such an intensely personal thing and who do they think they are to say that they know better than Andi what gender she is? As if she needs strangers on the internet feeding their over-exaggerated senses of self-importance by acting as if they are better witnesses to her experience than she is.

Then it dawned on me: These are probably the same people who call me a liar when I talk about my workouts or what I eat.  The same people who assert, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, that all fat people could lose weight if they just tried hard enough, and are, in fact, obligated to do so or deserve the penalty of constant stigmatization and shaming.

Who appointed these people as the body judges?  Was there a ceremony?  Was it nice?

I call shananigans.  Our bodies do not exist for other people to pass judgment on them.  Our bodies are amazing and they exist for whatever we decide to do with them. We are each in charge of how we feel about our body and what we do with it. We can decide to give that power away and choose to accept someone else’s feelings about our body as true and correct, but it’s always our choice to do so.

You don’t have to understand what it means to be transgendered, but it doesn’t hurt you to respect transgendered people and their right to be witnesses to their own experience.  If you think that being transgendered is wrong then you should probably not seek out sexual reassignment but beyond that it’s not really your business and what is there to be gained by telling someone that you know more about their gender than they do, except to sound like an over officious idiot?

Likewise, the fact that you don’t understand how I can be fat and healthy, or fat and happy with my body, or a fat athlete or whatever doesn’t matter.  You don’t have to understand – luckily for you, it’s not your job to make decisions about my body, decide whether or not I’m a competent witness to my experience, or tell me what is best for me.  You get to make those choices for you, and I’m here to support you.  I’m all about giving options and respecting people’s choices.  You are the boss of your underpants and I am the boss of mine and never the underpants-twain shall meet.

So please feel free to make decisions about your body and leave Andi Viveros and me, and everyone else who is not you, alone.

18 thoughts on “Who Appoints the Body Judges?

  1. Yes indeed! Another example of this attitude that always irks me is “Oh, she should NOT be wearing that!” As if the speaker is the final word on what anyone else SHOULD be doing. F&@% that!

      1. Oh, Dear Ragen, No wonder I like you so much! My Grandmother said many years ago when I was a girl a very similar statement. She was on her way to the store with curlers in her hair covered by a scarf, to my mother’s horror. She responded to my mother,” Well, it’s simple, if someone doesn’t like how I look, they can look elsewhere!” That taught me a very valuable lesson at a young age and I am ever thankful for her insight.

  2. That’s what I never understand. Why anyone thinks other people’s bodies are ever their business. It does my head in trying to understand why people think that they have the right to judge others on their bodies.

  3. I think the “body judges” are just insecure in their own bodies. They feel the need to point (what THEY perceive as) others’ physical flaws so they can say to themselves, “See, I’m not the only person with an imperfect body! Gosh, maybe if I just bring down others, I’ll feel better about myself!” At the end of the days, it doesn’t make them feel any better to focus on other people’s flaws, because it just makes them look harder at their own.

    I fully admit, I used to be one of those people, before I discovered HAES (and I was one of those people because I thought it would make me feel better about my own body if I silently brought others’ bodies down… at least I never said anything out loud). On one level, I feel bad for the body judges, because deep down the bodies they hate the most are their own. But I’m subjected to the judgment, and the stigma, often from my own family. My best friend is on the Supreme Court of body judges, and I always feel uncomfortable when I’m with her and she starts pointing out what this lady and that lady shouldn’t be wearing, because I wonder, “what on earth does she think of me?” The brigade of body police ought to take a moment of pause and THINK about why they feel the need to judge others’ bodies.

    1. On one level, I feel bad for the body judges, because deep down the bodies they hate the most are their own. But I’m subjected to the judgment, and the stigma, often from my own family.


      Additionally, I have problems because sometimes there’s such a power imbalance between me and people who judge my body. It’s one thing when it’s some random commenter on the street. And I’m coming at this as a person who is both fat and has pain/mobility impairments — Body judges are another thing entirely when it’s something like a doctor denying me adequate medical care or employers or professions denying accommodations, I will admit that in situations like those, I have precious little compassion left in me.

  4. I’m applauding you right now, Ragen. Literally. I don’t know how to show that with an emoticon, but I’m sure one exists somewhere!

  5. You are awesome, Ragen. I really, REALLY appreciate your blog. And love watching your dance videos! Thanks for all you do and write and dance. 🙂

  6. People will always have a need to judge others if they are visually different “from the norm.” I had to school one of those judges on Facebook on a posting about Adele. He wanted to know “can’t she afford to join a gym?” I answered back “I’m sure she could, but maybe she wants people to pay attention to her music instead of her weight, which is quite frankly, none of your business.” Will it change his attitude? Probably not, but at least I hope I made him realize none of us are here for another’s bodily personal judgement and approval.

  7. Telling me I can’t do/wear/say/be something because of my size is like telling me not to breathe! If you don’t like what i’m shaking, then get to stepping!
    I want to see their badges and the votes it took to get these clowns elected so we can do a proper re-count! It is no one’s right to judge someone else’s choices, appearance, etc. Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, they need to be worrying about themselves!

  8. Ragan (and Susan)–Wow. Thanks for sharing Andi’s story. I know that I would have missed it otherwise. And thanks for another eloquent defense of each person living her/his own experience!

  9. Shout it sister! People who have to make themselves feel good by putting down/judging other people are sad human beings.

  10. Gods bless you! I am also a fat, active, healthy woman. I work out. I belly dance. I walk everywhere. It took me years to realize that no matter how horribly I treated my body, it was always going to be fat! Now I’m in love with my large, and I exercise and eat well for my health, not for a number on the scale.

    PS – you’re one hell of a dancer! Love your super fast feet and effortless-looking spins.

  11. Hah. Boss of my underpants. I love that.

    And thank you for always reminding me and the rest of the world that bodies are really far, far more than just to be looked at.

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