I don’t know when or why, but somewhere along the line we all thought that it was perfectly acceptable to comment on or question others on the shape and size of their bodies. More often than not, we don’t question a person - we comment, behind closed doors or in hushed voices to our friends: God, she gained weight hasn’t she?
I’ve been part of the problem. I know I have. And I’ve vowed to stop.
About a year ago, I visited my family doctor back home in Cape Breton. As I was leaving the office, he stood between the door and my body and asked if I was OK.
“You’re very thin,” he explained. “If you’re trying to lose weight, please stop. If you’re not trying, maybe we should run some tests.”
As my healthcare professional, I understood perfectly where he was coming from. I’ve lost more than 40 pounds and I’ve kept it off. And while I was glad to lose the first 30 as I coped with my separation by obsessing over what I could control (food and exercise), the last 10 melted away quite by accident as a result of stress. But despite his concern - his legitimate, medical concern - it made me uncomfortable. But no more uncomfortable than the questions and comments from neighbours and old friends. And the fact is I am, and was, fine: I am strong and healthy, and while I watch my waistline it's a matter of what makes me feel good - nothing more.
Recently an 18 year-old woman from Eskasoni First Nation on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (I’m a CB’er) shared a brilliant photo in response to those who’ve pointed out that she put on weight. Hannah Battiste is a poet and mental health volunteer, and she’s wise beyond her years. I love it - and I’m not the only one: her post was shared more than 1000 times on Facebook, and it’s making the rounds on Twitter as well.
Battiste shared that she’s struggled with mental health issues and was a victim of sexual abuse. She says she’s received a lot of positive comments, describing the whole experience of going viral as “super indescribable.”
Summer is coming, and with it comes raised hemlines and shorter sleeves, trips to the beach and afternoons at the pool. A lot of women and men I know personally have told me they’re getting “beach body” ready and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tacked an extra kilometre on my runs here and there to keep my pants fitting comfortably. But that’s my choice, as Battiste perfectly points out in her post.
So, with summer right around the corner I’d like to remind you:
You don’t get to comment on or question what another person has chosen to wear regardless of his or her size, shape, age or ability. And, if you don’t like my stretch marks and mummy tummy in my bikini at the beach this year, I’m sure you can find another spot to swim.
Image Source: Facebook