Today, we’re stepping a little bit outside the realm of how to practice self love, to take stock of a phenomenon that makes it hard for self love to exist: body policing. Body policing is the even nastier cousin to body shaming, in which someone feels the authority to try and regulate another person’s choices about his or her body. And while the following deals with my experience having men police my body, it is important to remember that body policing is not gender specific. It can happen to anyone and should happen to nobody.
(Not Yours to) Body Police
My body, your body, her body, his body is not:
- yours to claim
- up for rent
- under investigation
- searching for new management
- in need of refurbishment
- guilty of any crimes
Body policing can be subtle at times, and other times it can be downright rude. But once in awhile body policing even comes in the form of a compliment that irks you and you’re not quite sure why. Like that time a guy told me this.
“You Have A Nice Gap”
He said it, and instantly I knew I didn’t like the way it sounded. It’s not like he said it sarcastically or mockingly, but hearing him comment on the thigh gap I was starving myself to achieve, I felt like all that restriction was justified. I felt like a standard had been officially set for my thighs, and my body. His standard. I didn’t realize it at the time that I’d been body policed. I’m sure it wasn’t his intention. In fact, he probably forgot it immediately after saying it. But I won’t.
“I Wouldn’t Want You Doing or Wearing Things Like That..It Isn’t Classy”
I was getting ready to go out to a party with a girlfriend. It’s a wine night theme, and I laugh as I tell my then boyfriend that part of the fun is drinking out of these giant, wine-filled bags that you have to slap to get the liquid out. He made a disgusted face and proceeded to tell me that he didn’t like to picture me like “those unclassy girls” hitting a wine bag who are “dressed in nothing.”
To both these men I want to say:
- you have no agency here
- how I look, how I act, and what I wear are not yours to regulate
- learn from these errors
To all my amazing body positive warriors trying to self love amidst body shamers and body policers I want to say:
- hold your ground
- don’t let anyone intimidate you
- stick up for women who have not yet learned to do it themselves
- you are yours
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