Five Phrases for Size Acceptance Self Defense

Fatphobia ToolboxIn a world that is consumed with “thin” as the ideal of both beauty and health, and where many mistakenly believe that public health should be about making fat people’s bodies the public’s business, practicing Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size can mean dealing with conversations that are everything from irritating to downright insulting.

Sometimes I have the time and energy to open a dialog and sometimes I don’t.  Here are five phrases that I keep in my back pocket for when I want to end an inappropriate interaction quickly and move on with my day.

I’m not soliciting opinions about my [body/health/food choices etc.]

I’ve found this super useful when dealing with concern trolling of any kind. It’s not a response that people are expecting, it doesn’t take me down the road of buying into the idea that this person is owed an explanation, and it shuts down further conversation.

Random person at grocery store:  Should you really be buying that ice cream?

Me:  I’m not soliciting opinions about my food choices.

or if the advice is particularly bad, I might add a touch of snark:

Random person at the running track:  At your size, you really shouldn’t run, it’s bad for your knees.

Me:  I’m not actually soliciting bad advice from random strangers.

I can’t imagine why you would think that’s your business. 

Works for concern trolling, works for inappropriate questions, works for people who are under the mistaken belief that my body is somehow their business.

Random person at random place:  You would be so much prettier if you just lost a little weight.

Me:  I can’t imagine why you would think that’s your business.

I have absolutely no interest in weight loss.

Great for whenever somebody assumes that I’m interested in weight loss, or that I’m doing something with weight loss as a goal. I used to add “My body is perfect as it is,” but I found that led to people concern trolling me (ie: Oh, of course you’re beautiful but I’m just worried about your health blah blah blah…) so now I just stick with the single sentence, said with finality.

Random person at a lunch event:  You should try this [insert ridiculous weight loss scam here]

Me:  I have absolutely no interest in weight loss.

Person at the gym:  I see you here all the time, how much weight have you lost so far?

Me:  I don’t weigh myself. I have absolutely no interest in weight loss.

How are your bowel movements?

I use this to respond to especially inappropriate personal questions about my body, food or exercise. When people look confused I often append it with “I thought we were asking each other inappropriate personal questions.”

Person at a restaurant:  Do you need to eat that?

Me:  How are your bowel movements?

Show me your list…

This one is more involved, but I have found it to be worth it.  I developed it specifically for people who give a “But muh tax dollarz”  defense of their weight bigotry.

Some jerk: Your body is my business because muh tax dollarz!

Me:  Show me your list.

SJ: What?

Me:  I need to see the list of things your tax dollars pay for, broken down into things you do and don’t agree with, and the interventions you are involved in for everything you think makes your taxes too high. Otherwise, I’m going to assume that this is a bullshit excuse for engaging in weight bullying and this conversation is over.

Remember that each of us gets to choose how we deal with the oppression we face, sometimes that might mean opening a dialog, and sometimes that might mean ending the conversation and walking away as quickly as possible.  These phrases are just more tools for toolbox.

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15 thoughts on “Five Phrases for Size Acceptance Self Defense

  1. These all work really well for me, as a grown adult. Does anyone have some simplified/scaled down suggestions for a third/fourth grader? My son gets a huge salad with lunch every day (and eats the whole thing,( and a few weeks ago one of the kids in his class told him he “shouldn’t eat so much.” I don’t want him to respond rudely, particularly since kids at 8/9/10 are still learning and can usually only behave as they observe others behaving, but I want to give him a short, to-the-point, very very clear yet not overly rude response to comments such as this. (“Mind your own business” would get him in trouble with the teachers, as would most of my suggestions, which ranged from “tell him to sit and spin” to “open your mouth and show him your salad.”)

    1. Seems to me that would be the perfect situation for ‘I can’t imagine why you would think that’s your business.’ That’s in no way rude, snark can be added via inflection, but it isn’t automatic, and best of all it creates a clear demarcation of boundaries.

      I would recommend a tone of bewildered innocence to go with it in case any teachers are listening.

      1. Twistie, I just wanted to tell you that you rock! Seriously, almost every one of Ragen’s articles has a clever, insightful, sweet, and/or hilarious comment by you. You give a lot of great advice and emotional support. I’m glad your parents had unprotected sex!

        1. I’m absolutely delighted that yours did, too! You gave me not only delicious props, but great big gut-busting belly laughs to go with. Thanks ever so.

    2. Maybe something along the line of “I’m the boss of my body, so I get to decide how much I eat.” or “I should eat however much my body tells me I’m hungry for.” Or for some kids, “My mom says” can be really helpful, whether it’s “my mom says I can eat what I want” or “my mom says I need to eat my salad”.

      Possibly also “it’s rude to comment on what people are eating” and avoid making excuses altogther?

      I read a lot of and she’s mentioned putting a notecard in her daughter’s lunchbox for teachers.

    3. A succinct, politely dismissive retort for a child could be “that’s one opinion.” I’m sad to hear that “mind your own business” would be censured by the teachers, but “you shouldn’t eat so much” gets a pass.

      1. Yeah, but see, his is TOO BIG to count, I guess.

        I found out tonight that one of the kids in his class basically told him every day for the last month or two of school “you should go on a diet.”

        So I gave him permission to, in the future, respond with, “My body is none of your business,” and if he gets in trouble I will go to bat for him. He’s very, very sensitive to getting in trouble (he’ll go into a tailspin for a routine scolding if you catch him on an off day) so I don’t know how it’ll go, but it’s a start.

  2. I was really proud of myself at the doctor when she got all excited about me losing some random small amount of weight. (Let’s be real – 5 or 6 pounds over a year at over 250? Maybe I just had to pee really badly the last time I was weighed!) All I replied with was “Well, weight fluctuations are normal”, not making it negative or positive 🙂

  3. I have suggested this previously. I will do so again. It is the shortest and most effective counter-question I know, and it always works.
    When anyone says *anything* about your looks -body size included- simply ask, ‘Do I know you?” Invariably the idi-er,offender will say, “No.” You then say, “I didn’t think so.” You walk away. That is it.

    The idea is that this quick sequence reminds the offender that it is none of his/her business as someone with whom you have had no prior contact and do not plan to have future contact. He/she will get it.

  4. OMG. I love you. I do think the ‘bowel movements’ one is better as a theoretical response, but I think the concept is very applicable. Every trans person I know is asked about their you-know-what. And you know, that’s none of your (explelive) business! Bringing it back to poop texture is something EVERYONE can identify with.

  5. Haha these are brilliant. I especially like the tax dollars one. I would like to add asking the fat-shamer whether they drive a car on public roads, send their children to public schools, etc. Why don’t they apologize for all of the things they do that could possibly cost other taxpayers money?? The fact is, you live in a society that values having certain services for its citizens. You don’t get to pick and choose who uses them and how! The tax one is seriously one of the most demeaning fatphobic comments in my opinion. You have no idea how many things this one particular fat person does that BENEFIT society. And obviously, even less of an idea of what their hypothetical medical costs may or may not be.

    I say we offer all the people who don’t want “their” tax money going to fat people the chance to get back however much that would be IF they also opt to have limited access to anything and everything that has been paid for with taxes from fatties. I’d love to see how quickly people of size go from being a “burden” on society to being real PEOPLE if they had to live like that for even a week.

  6. Reblogged this on Em's Way To Go and commented:
    Here’s a convenient list of coping strategies with size-related abuse.
    “Random person at random place: You would be so much prettier if you just lost a little weight.
    “Me: I can’t imagine why you would think that’s your business.”
    Unfortunately we live in a world where women are routinely judged by their appearance to the extent where someone who doesn’t match what is “acceptable” is called to account.
    Speaking as someone who’s been told “You’d be the best-looking girl in the room if you lost half a stone”/”Your legs would look really good if you worked out”/”You’d look really pretty if you let your (short) hair grow”, this woman’s really on the nail!

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