This is one of those annual tradition posts – it’s the Underpants Rule and it is pretty simple: when it comes to personal choices, everyone is the boss of their own underpants. So, when it comes to personal choices, you get to choose for you and other people get to choose from them and it’s not your job to tell other people what to do and it’s not their job to tell you what to do. (Note that I’m talking about choices like what to eat and whether/how to exercise, not whether or not to encroach on some people’s civil rights, as that’s not a personal choice. Over the years, there have been some misunderstandings about the Underpants Rule – mostly confusion about what is and is not covered, rest assured, the Underpants Rule has limitations.)
To illustrate, if someone is considering saying something about personal choices that starts with
- People should
- Everyone ought to
- What people need to do
- We should all
- Nobody should
- You shouldn’t
- blah blah things that have to do with underpants that aren’t yours blah blah
then there is a 99.9% chance that they are about to break The Underpants Rule. Of course telling you that you should follow the Underpants Rule is, in fact, breaking the Underpants Rule which is pesky, so let me instead make a case for the Underpants Rule and then you can make your own choice.
I chose a Health at Every Size practice (knowing that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control) because I am a fan of research, logic, and math. I think that the research clearly shows that a HAES practice gives me a much better shot at supporting my health with way less downside risk than a weight loss- based health practice.
There are people who think the exact opposite of that. I know that because they come here and tell me so – they say that I should make a different choice. This blog is my little corner of the internet. It exists only because I created it and I am thrilled to pieces that people enjoy reading it, that people get inspired by it, that it gives people information to help them make choices etc. I try very hard to make sure that I always follow the Underpants Rule and never tell anyone else how they have to live when it comes to their personal choices, and yet people come here and try to tell me how to live when it comes to my personal choices. That’s annoying.
For this reason, I would never go onto someone’s weight loss blog and tell them all about Health at Every Size and quote research as to why I think it’s a better choice. Those are not my underpants.
I do not enjoy (or believe them) when people tell me that I need to become smaller to be attractive. Therefore I would never say that thin women need to become larger to be attractive. Besides the fact that I don’t believe it, those are not my underpants. (Not to mention that the path to high self-esteem is probably not paved with hypocrisy so doing to someone else exactly what I don’t want done to me seems ill-advised.)
The “War on Obesity” is an underpants rule breakdown on a massive scale. A group of government, public and private interests (with various profit and political motivations) has chosen a group of people who are identifiable by sight and is now trying to tell us everything from how we have to prioritize health, to the path we have to take to become healthy, to how our bodies have to look. Who died and made them Underpants Overlord? Nobody. (And another year has gone by and I’ve still not received my official fat person pony, so there’s another angry letter I have to write.)
My metaphorical underpants and my actual underpants have something in common: if I want somebody else in them, that person will be among the very first to know. I have definitely not invited the executives at HBO, Kaiser Permanente, the government, or the diet industry into my underpants.
Now, I’m not telling what to do (cause, you know, Underpants Rule) but I’m suggesting that if you don’t like it when people attempt to be the boss of your underpants, then maybe take a pass on trying to be the boss of someone else’s. I’m fairly certain that “Do unto others exactly what you don’t want them to do to you” is the brick rule or the pile of crap rule or something – at any rate a LOT of steps down from platinum and gold. (If you are suddenly overcome with the urge to talk about how much fat people supposedly cost in “your tax dollars” then head over to this post immediately.)
Remember, you are forever the boss of your underpants – occupy your underpants (with a nod to reader Duckie for that phrase)! I’m going off to see if there is a Guinness World Record for number of times the word underpants is used in a blog post.
Underpants. Underpants. Underpants. Underpants.
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3 thoughts on “It’s The Underpants Rule!”
i love this rule –
I’m a huge fan of the underpants rule. I’ve seen my mother diet on and off for my entire life. (In fact, she still jokingly calls it her “baby weight”). As I’ve been changing my own attitudes about weight, I’ve had to fend off some no doubt well-intended but still hurtful comments about food and weight from her. She doesn’t do it every time or harp on the subject, thankfully, but I’ve definitely heard a few. Her doctor recently persuaded her that she needed to try to lose weight again or else she’d have to increase her diabetes medication. So, at 70+, she’s dieting again. She’s been giving me regular updates, both the triumphant and the frustrating kind. I’ve held my tongue – those are her underpants – and just said that I love her at every and any size. Which I definitely do.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I just keep it in my head “Those are her underpants, and these are mine.”
Truly. It is bizarre the things people want to legislate about personal behavior, appearances’ etc. And then they bleat about this being the land o the free… I guess they mean free until I decide you have gone too far and that you need to adjust, well, your underpants till I am O.K. with them… Beh! Piss Off!