I talk a lot on this blog about the overt sizeism that we deal with – whether it’s online bullies, in person egg-throwers they can be the easiest to see. Even for those at the beginning of their Size Acceptance journey these people can be the low-hanging fruit in the “this person is fucked up and I’m fine” category.
But there is a type of sizeism that is more insidious and often more difficult to deal with – that’s when people who are well meaning, well-intentioned, and even fully believe that they are being body positive are, in fact, spouting absolute sizeist nonsense. Here are some options for dealing with this:
Get your mantra on
As regular readers know, my mantra is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” other people use “nope, nope, nope” and “lies!” You use what works for you, but having a mantra that you use when you encounter sizeist, diet, and other bullshit can really help you from even starting to internalize this. Bonus – the more you use it, the more of a reflex it can become.
Put the problem where it belongs
Remember that even though you may be forced to listen to this (depending on where you are and how possible it is for you to get the hell away) and thus it becomes your problem, it is not your fault. The person yammering on is the problem, you are not.
Find a friend
If you are in a group, making eye-contact with someone you know will understand what’s going on can help reinforce that nonsense is afoot and that you do not have to buy into it.
Remind yourself that they are on a journey
Often (but not always) there was a time in my life when I believed the same things that this person was saying- there was a time when I did think that my body would be better if it was smaller, there was a time when I did confuse size and health. There was a time before I did my own research when I bought the diet industry message hook, line, and points calculator. I will say that I find that this option is easier if the person isn’t trying to pass themselves off as body positive.
There are lots of options here and they’ll depend on the situation, what the person is saying, and what you feel like doing:
- I absolutely disagree with what you are saying [for these reasons]
- I need to interrupt – what you are saying is offensive and sizeist, please stop
- I’m sure you’re well meaning, but the evidence doesn’t back up what you are saying, I’d be happy to send you some information about it
- I used to think that to, I’ve since learned that it’s not actually body positive/fat positive/appropriate in this space to say [whatever nonsense they said]
- I’m excited about a world where we can celebrate bodies of all sizes
- I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t confuse size with health
Snarky (not necessarily recommended, but fun to think about)
- I thought this was a body positive space – is today opposite day
- I’m sorry, I must have misheard, surely you didn’t say [whatever nonsense they said] in a fat positive space?
Regardless, remember that just because someone has good intentions, that doesn’t mean that you have to buy into what they are saying, or let it go by without response.
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16 thoughts on “Well-Meaning Sizeist Nonsense – Say Something Sunday”
I’m definitely at the beginning of my journey, but I’m already having to learn when to just walk away and leave sizeist-trolls to their own ignorance, and when to tell my well-meaning mother that I don’t give a shit. No, I don’t care that the entire back of my bra is visible in this tank top. Know why mom? Because I’ve spent a decade melting every summer, wearing top shirts when it’s 90 degrees outside, just to hide my arms and said bra, probably exacerbating my actual health problems just to avoid having assholes comment on the less than perfect parts of my body. And I’m done with it.
I am beginning my first summer of “I don’t give a shit,” and I’m far happier than I ever would’ve expected to be. In fact, I think that will be my mantra. I don’t give a shit if my arms look misshapen to you and creep you out. I don’t give a shit if you think I should wear a high-back tank top if I’m going to leave the house in just that, and make sure my bra is covered. I don’t give a shit if you think I shouldn’t wear that tank top with those shorts, because it doesn’t drape enough to make my stomach less noticeable. I don’t give a shit anymore, what makes other people comfortable, what they think constitutes flattering or what they think demonstrates “class” in wardrobe. I’m going to wear what I feel comfortable in, what I like and what I think looks good on me. And everybody else’s opinions can sod off. 🙂
As Ragen has expressed in blogs previous, FemmeAppeal, I love that you are embracing the mantra of “that is a big, flaming sack of not-my-problem!”
A benefit of good resources at the right moment. A bevy of strong body-positive women reminded me how much I miss going sleeveless, literally right as the oppressive heat was about to kick in. A few days not melting was enough to reinforce the “I don’t give a shit” of it all.
A confluence of dumb luck and good timing. 🙂
If you’re comfortable, go bra-less. That will get her off your back!
Seriously, though, if you’re comfortable without a bra, by all means, ditch the bra. It’s purely a matter of personal comfort-level. Nobody HAS to wear one. It’s part of the Underpants rule, right? All underwear is the owner’s business?
Funny thought, but no no no. If I could find well fitting sleep bras, I’d be the boob version of a “never nude.” 🙂
Some people do have to wear one, if they want to maintain good balance, minimize back and shoulder strain, and not have the twins leaving tank tops under their own volition. 🙂
Yeah, I have to wear a bra, too. These big babies get uncomfortable, if I just leave them swinging.
But some women are perfectly comfortable without a bra, and only wear one because it’s expected. Yes, even fat women can have small breasts. Or perky big ones.
Speaking of perky – has anyone here ever tried those glue-on cup things that are supposed to give bra-like support, but without the bra? I saw them at the sewing store and thought how great it would be if they worked (and if they carried them in my size).
Yes, it is. I had discontinued bra use as it was irritating my breasts and making things worse, but lately my mom said I have to wear one, since I look like a whore. Can’t understand what she sees in that.
I think the majority of prostitutes do wear bras. Sexy lingerie is part of the deal, right?
If bras are irritating you, perhaps you could get support and comfort from a properly fitted corset. I say properly fitted, NOT tight-laced. It should be just snug enough to support, yet loose enough to allow freedom of breathing AND motion. Also, it should conform to YOUR shape, and not force your body into a different shape.
It gives support to the breasts from below, and can be quite comfortable. YMMV.
FTR – You should avoid the word prostitute unless you’re in the company of sex workers who specifically don’t care. It’s considered a dodgy term at best.
And Mich, the next time your mom uses the word whore, I’d ask her to watch this. She might reconsider her own ‘slut shaming’ language choices. http://www.ted.com/talks/toni_mac_the_laws_that_sex_workers_really_want
I actually talk to a lot of sex workers, just conversationally and as part of my advocacy for sex workers rights and encouraging sex positivity. Sex positivity and body positivity go hand in hand for a lot of people – because it’s all about respecting individuals and their individual choices, over judging people you have no business judging.
And yeah, the notion that a sex worker is more likely to walk around in public without a bra on is – at best – pretty silly. 🙂
Is it dodgy? Sorry. I didn’t know that.
Personally I only get offended when I know someone is being deliberately marginalizing when using the term – and clearly you were not. But it’s like the first time someone told me the origin of the word gypped – I was so mad that I’d been using the term for years and didn’t know, that I prefer to tell people if they’re using a term I know can be offensive and marginalizing. Especially since we all know how ubiquitous language in our culture can be used to justify shaming behavior.
And I appreciate being informed. How else will I learn these things? And if I don’t learn these things, I’ll hurt someone, without meaning to.
I have just one question. When you mention (like under ‘Snarky’) “a fat positive space”, what kinds of places would you consider to be fat/body/size positive spaces?
Maybe I am just drawing a blank… 😉
A lot of Facebook groups that I’m involved in have rules making them specifically body/fat/size positive, also lots of workshops that I speak at and events that I organize are specifically size positive. You can always declare a space that you manage (your game night, your facebook wall, your home) body positive as well!
Thank you, that makes perfect sense.
I think it makes sense for your personal life, but how do you go about it at work, especially with people who might be in a higher position than you and would make fun of you?