On body ownership and autonomy

What makes me angry?

I’ve lost weight.  I practice yoga three or four times a week, sometimes at the studio, sometimes at home. People started commenting, “you look good! What are you doing? ” “Yoga” I would say. “Lots of it, you should try it, it’s awesome.” (I was a yoga convert, fully engaged in my yoga evangelism.  Yoga for everyone!!!! ) Often the person would smile and say, “ok.” Or, “I tried yoga back in the day.” But, too often, the response is, “Stop losing weight.” My response:

robert downey jr

Excuse me? I like my body.  I like myself big, and I like myself small. I’m at a healthy weight for my somewhat petite frame.  My clothes look good on me.  I’m not dieting. I split oreos with my two year old,(and I shouldn’t but you see, she likes the icing and I like the cookie, and we fit together perfect like that, me and my Nay) more often then I  should.  I drink Dr. Pepper every. single. day. I do not, and have never counted calories- even when I was at my biggest.

And that paragraph above?  That right up there. . . is a part of the problem too.  Why do I have to explain to someone who does not pay my bills, medical or grocery, about my own body?  Why do I have to justify my body to my “friends.” Look, when I was bigger, people would make fun of me- sometimes outright, but mostly little comments and digs.  They would comment on an old picture that I don’t look like I used to, (all skinny and stuff), or they would make subtle digs to imply that I wasn’t as fine as I thought I was. . . (like I said, I think I’m sexy regardless of my size. . . can’t tell me nuffin). . .

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Now that I’ve lost weight I’m still getting digs, “When are you going to stop losing weight?” “Why are you losing weight?” “Don’t lose any more weight.” And it’s really ticking me off.

Why is it okay to comment on another woman’s body to their face?  No, really?  Why is it okay to say to a bigger woman, “You need to lose weight. You aren’t healthy.” I’ve seen it happen- in public. Why is it okay to say to a smaller woman, “Don’t lose anymore weight.”” Why are you getting so skinny? ”

And the commentary doesn’t stop with weight.  Before I was married I was constantly asked, “when are you going to get married?”  Then, we married, and I was constantly asked, “when are you going to have a baby?” and, “Dang, Bunmi, You don’t have any kids yet?”, Then I had a baby, and now its, “When are you going to have another baby? You know you need to give Nay a sibling.”

My sweet, sweet girl gets the ownership thing right.  She is quick to tell you, “No, my hair.” When she doesn’t want her hair touched, and   “No, my hand.” when she doesn’t want her hand held. She will not kiss you just because you ask.  She will not hug you just because you ask.  She will not speak just because you speak to her. (Okay, I’m working on the last one. . That’s just rude.  . but baby girl knows herself, and what she’s about, and she ain’t studying most of y’all.)

She is just learning that she is her own person, and that she doesn’t have to sacrifice her body or feelings just because someone else would prefer it. She speaks up for herself, but I wonder, how long until she gets the message that as women, in this country, our bodies are not really our own?

You see, in our culture, women are constantly placed on pedestals of scrutiny.  Not only are people who are relative strangers often comfortable commenting on a woman’s weight, appearance, or intelligence, women are often judged and admonished for the choices we make.

Wear a short skirt and something bad happened to you- You shouldn’t have been wearing that skirt.  You are advertising-What can you expect?

Wear a hijab- You’re being oppressed! How dare they make you cover your hair!

There is a lady I follow on instagram-Amber the Activist. Amber was traveling in South Africa to raise awareness about rape, and invited a “friend” to take a shower with her.  That “friend” raped her. The response- How dare you take a shower with a man, and then complain of rape!!! You don’t have the right!!!

So, rather than condemn her rapist, she is blasted for her choices.  As a woman, how dare she believe that she is free to be herself, and to have a non-sexual consensual nude encounter with another person.  I say, what the hell is wrong with society?

Why can’t women be free?  Free to be whatever weight I want.  Free to love whoever I want.  Free to be free from unwanted touch and commentary about our bodies and choices?

Have you had this experience?  What’s the loving way to deal with someone’s overt judgments about your body, or your decisions?

 

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