You Should Stop Telling Me To "Love My Body"

[Content note: Body talk, trans* issues]

Yesterday was the National Organization for Women's 16th annual Love Your Body Day.

Here's how NOW explains the day's purpose:
Every day, in so many ways, the beauty industry (and the media in general) tell women and girls that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. The beauty template women are expected to follow is extremely narrow, unrealistic and frequently hazardous to their health. The Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman's value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.
Right on.

1) Popular culture is saturated with some horribly misogynist (and racist, ableist, homophobic, fat-hating, trans* phobic et al.,) messages about bodies and lives, particularly when it comes to women.

2) Nobody should feel obliged to listen to other people's critiques of their body. This includes multi-national corporations shilling crap just as it does random assholes on the street.

To me, this is all pretty straight-forward. Smash patriarchy, etc., etc.,

However, folks (and in particular, I'm looking at the cis folks out there) have to decouple "don't let other people tell you what to think about your body" from "I think your body is super." If the kyriarchy isn't allowed to talk shit about my body, it shouldn't be pushing any views on my body just to make itself feel better about itself.

My body, my perspective.


I sense that this is probably counter-intuitive to a lot of people. However, while I can't speak for other trans* people, I'm sick and tired of other people telling me that I should be cool with my body.

When I came out, people asked me why I had to go and change my body, because all bodies are beautiful.

When I complain to people about having to shave my beard once (or more) a day, people point out that lots of women have lots of facial hair, as if this is somehow relevant to how I feel about my facial hair.

This isn't just idle chatter. Activists have argued that the medical treatments that I (and countless trans* people) seek amount to the mutilation of our beautiful bodies. I don't recall asking them for their thoughts on my body.

I (and I'm not alone in this) don't have access to necessary medical care because other people have decided that it's "cosmetic."

In the end, I don't see a whole lot of difference between people who object to my transsexuality because I'm going against the word of God and people who object to my transsexuality out of my need to not listen to what the wrong people say about my body.

Nobody should be forced to wear cosmetics.

Nobody should be forced to have reconstructive surgery.

Nobody should be forced to be feminine.

And yet, some people wear cosmetics, have various appearance-altering surgeries and/or are women. We're not sell outs to some bullshit ideal (if I only had a vagina for every time I heard that garbage), we're just being ourselves.

I'm happy that lots of other people love their bodies. It'd be awesome if everyone loved their body, but that's not a call I get to make.

So while I applaud NOW for fighting on this one particular front (even if it's one that corporate feminists have been fighting on seemingly forever), I don't want to answer anyone's bullshit questions about why I love my body. I don't want people to act as if I've never considered loving my body.

Shit, I try to tolerate my body. I'm a strong person, but every single day in this body is a struggle. I'm not throwing that out there to elicit pity (HEY LET'S ALL GET ON THE INTERNET AND FEEL BAD ABOUT OUR BODIES). I'm just pretty jarred that so many cis people think telling other folks to love their own bodies isn't extraordinarily hostile. I get that the idea probably never occurred to a lot of you, but that's the precisely the problem.

Crossposted from A Cunt of One's Own

[See also: People with disabilities, some of whom also have complicated relationships with their bodies. Please feel welcome to speak about your own lived experiences with "love your body" campaigns feeling hostile, taking care to use "I" language and to avoid engaging in Oppression Olympics.]

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