A few days ago, while speaking to a colleague, she told me about the constant frustration and sadness she feels by friends, family, and total strangers who are constantly making comments about her small frame. She said me, “Gisela, I feel that I am always having to explain myself and defend myself because of the comments that are said to me about my body. I am thin and this is me.” I told her, “That is you and remarks of people’s bodies – no matter what size, shape, or color of their skin – are constantly being discussed. Those people are what I call the Body Police™.”
Think about how often does someone says something about your body or, better yet, how often they say something about their own body… My friend’s comment made me think about all of the comments that have been said to me, including:
- “Oh my dear, you’ve put on some weight”
- “How pale are your legs? Get a tan.”
- “You’re body never got back to where it was before that baby, did it?”
- “You’re thin, but you’re not that thin”
- “I wish I had your stomach, mine’s too flabby.”
Even when some of these are meant to be compliments, they are still critiquing your body. And unfortunately, comments like these are can be heard anywhere and everywhere, because there is no filter for the Body Police™.
The Body Police™ are all around us. They are our family, they are our coworkers, they are our neighbors, they are our friends, and they are total strangers. However, I am a strong believer that when someone is body policing you, it is likely because they are body policing themselves.
Insecurities, comparisons, frustrations, and lack of self love can lead to body policing by others. Ignorance of simply thinking that it is okay to discuss someone else’s body can also lead to comments. However, it does not mean that we cannot take a stand and Say No to the Body Police™.
You might be wondering, ‘How exactly do I say ‘No’ to the Body Police™?’ It is all about taking a stand for yourself and your body, but still maintaining peace and positivity to those you stand up to.
Below are ways you can Say No to the Body Police™:
- Ignore the comment. Yes, this is a lot easier said than done. However, not acknowledging someone’s comment more likely means that the conversation about your body – or their body – ends there. If you respond to it – which is what they are looking for – the body policing will continue. When co-worker Maggie starts to say, “I’m going to start Whole 30 so that I can be skinny like you,” ignore it and keep going about your day.
- Walk away and join another conversation. Did Aunt Susie meet you at the food table at your nephew’s birthday and tell you, “I can see by your plate how those pounds have creeped up on you.” Simply smile to Aunt Susie and walk away to speak to someone else who brings you joyful conversation instead. This allows you to not engage with Aunt Susie’s negative body policing and puts your focus back on people that bring you happiness.
- Go along with it. Yes, I said it, go along with it. When neighbor Dina sees you in a skirt before leaving to work and comments on how ‘pale’ you are, tell her, “I know, right? Talk about lack of melanin in my skin. But hey, it’s who I am.” Dina will probably not have much to say after that.
- Make the conversation about them. When your younger brother Mike comes to visit you and your new baby and he starts to mention how his wife ‘lost all the baby weight real fast‘ after their son was born, ask him what new activities him and his son have been doing together, how work is going, or what travel plans he has soon. Most likely, Mike will completely forget about the unnecessary body policing comments that were about to occur.
- Just tell them No. You have the right to say that any comments about your body or comments comparing your body to someone else’s or their own, are not okay, are not allowed, and are not welcomed. Standing up for your body, your feelings, and you as a whole maintains the positivity and peacefulness within you. When your mother in law starts to comment on ‘how you’ve let yourself and your body go,’ do not be afraid to say, “I appreciate your concern but I have not let myself nor my body go and I ask that you do not make comments about me or my body.” Speaking up for yourself when all else fails or when you want it to end before the body policing even starts is always allowed.
We are so much more than our bodies and life is too sweet to be spent on listening to the Body Police™. Take a stand and just say no.
Comment below and tell me how you Say No to the Body Police™.