As Featured on News Cult: How to Respond When Someone Comments on Your Body

Some people feel it’s ok to make unsolicited comments about other people’s bodies. I don’t get it–the only time I’ll say something about someone’s body to his/her face is when he/she asks me to, but even then, I will proceed with severe caution–don’t want to say the wrong thing and start WWIII. (Behind their back is a completely different story, but being direct about it doesn’t make sense to me.)

Any time anyone says something to me about my body, I, for one, feel really uncomfortable–regardless of if it’s positive or negative–because it forces my body into the spotlight, under the magnifying glass, where I just would like it not to be. I scrutinize and criticize my body enough in my own head–I don’t need that internal conflict to go external. But that certainly hasn’t stopped anyone. So I’ve tried to come up with some good responses that maybe you can use too, below.

(Behind their back is a completely different story, but being direct about it doesn't make sense to me.)

When people say something along the lines of, “OH MY GOD you’ve lost so much weight! You look great!” or, “Darling, I love you, but you were a little plump–what have you been doing to make yourself look SO. MUCH. BETTER?!” try one of the below:

1. “Oh it’s just all that cocaine and shoving my finger down my throat.” [this will shut them right the fuck up]

2. “Since when is ‘plump’ a bad thing? Chicken breast? You want it plump. Lips? You want them plump. A peach? You want it plump. My ass, as it walks away from you? You want it plump, but you can’t have it.” [wear your best jeans for this one]

3. “What are you talking about? I’ve always been a thin delicate petite flower/beanpole/toothpick/waif/the straw version of the house in the The Three Little Pigs/feather/snowflake/piece of tissue paper.”

4. “Yeah, I read Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness, but not as a cautionary tale–more as an anorexia ‘how-to’ guide. You wouldn’t BELIEVE how the calories in gum add up just like that–and to think I was so carelessly chewing several pieces a day! I annotated it if you’d like to borrow!” [fight discomfort with discomfort]

5. [If said as a sleazy come-on]: “Yes, and I still wouldn’t fuck you with a 10-foot pole.”

If they say something like, “You could lose some weight,” “Are you sure you want to wear that?” or, “I’m sure we’ll find something that fits you,” try:

1. “Yeah but you know what’s fun? Pizza.”

2. “Well somebody has to make up the market for spandex panelling.”

3. “At least I would outlive you if we ran out of food.”

4. “I like to live every moment like it’s my last (meal and I’m on death row).”

5. “Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the rumbling of your stomach.”

Or, regardless of the content of someone’s comment on your body, you can always go full force feminist:

1. “Keep your comments off my body.” [BAM. Rape reference FTW]

2. “If I were MALE, would you be verbalizing your judgments about my body and holding it up to the same unrealistic, sexist standards? No, no, don’t shy away–let’s unpack this.”

3. [If it’s a man who has commented]: “Let’s change the subject to the size of your penis, your receding hair line, or your beer belly. You pick.”

4. “What was that? I couldn’t hear you over the loud din of patriarchy that has predominated since the beginning of time.”

5. “My body does not define my worth. Nor does my below-the-average-male’s salary. Or the fact that I didn’t get the right to vote until 1920. Or that what I can and cannot do with my reproductive capabilities seems to be up for debate by a bunch of male politicians. Or the regular sexual harassment I’m subjected to in the workplace, on the street, at school, and in everyday conversation and interaction, like this one.”

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