Things You Don’t Have To Do With Your Body For Other People

Image from here (edit: removed broken link).

You don’t have to:

Shave your hair, curl your hair, dye your hair, wax your hair, pluck your hair, straighten your hair, lighten your skin, tan your skin, exfoliate your skin, moisturize your skin, lose weight, gain weight, maintain your weight, “suck in”, be curvy, have good posture, build muscle, be flexible, wear deodorant, wear makeup, wear jewelry, wear pantyhose, wear “flattering” clothes, wear contacts instead of glasses, whiten your teeth, file your nails, paint your nails, wear high heels, wear a bra.

You also don’t have to:

Love your body.

Full stop.

You are only responsible for and to yourself. You don’t owe your self-esteem to the beauty industry, the diet industry, the food industry, the exercise industry, the fat acceptance movement, or to me. I hope that you don’t turn hating yourself into hating-yourself-for-not-loving-yourself. Even if I’m asking you not to say certain things TO ME, I’m never asking you to feel a certain way about yourself. You feel what you feel, and if you hate your body your reasons are really complex and arise from the culture around you.

I am touched by this quote from here:

the fact that “love your body” rhetoric shifts the responsibility for body acceptance over to the individual, and away from communities, institutions, and power, is also problematic. individuals who do not love their bodies, who find their bodies difficult to love, are seen as being part of the problem. the underlying assumption is that if we all loved our bodies just as they are, our fat-shaming, beauty-policing culture would be different. if we don’t love our bodies, we are, in effect, perpetuating normative (read: impossible) beauty standards. if we don’t love our individual bodies, we are at fault for collectively continuing the oppressive and misogynistic culture. if you don’t love your body, you’re not trying hard enough to love it. in this framework, your body is still the paramount focus, and one way or another, you’re failing. it’s too close to the usual body-shaming, self-policing crap, albeit with a few quasi-feminist twists, for comfort.

I want to smash the systems that control us, and I don’t mind smashing the people who willfully hold up those systems. But I don’t want to heap more pressure on top of already weary victims of our culture. You are allowed to feel what you feel.

I’m going to keep saying, “love your body,” because far too many people have never been told that they, too, can love their bodies if they want to, and that their bodies are lovable. But I just wanted to say at least once that you don’t have to add “love your body” to the list of things required of you.