Things You Don’t Owe Anybody
by Ragen Chastain, of Dances With Fat.
When it comes to a lot of areas of our lives we get to choose what we do and why, and who – if anyone – we do it for. Sometimes people get confused and think that we owe them behaviors, states of being, or explanations. Let’s just clear some of this up:
Pretty – Nobody owes anybody else attractive by any standard. People who get upset that there are others walking around who are not aesthetically pleasing to them have an over-exaggerated sense of self importance. Don’t like what you see? Too lazy to expand your skills for perceiving beauty? Then feel free to follow the advice of the band Chicago and look away, baby, look away.
Health – Nobody owes anybody else health or healthy habits by any definition. Each person gets to decide how to prioritize their health, and the path they choose to meet their goals. That’s why people are allowed to be professional bullriders and X games athletes, and NFL Players. The suggestion that fat people have some obligation over and above what everyone else has (which is none) is thinly veiled bigotry and nothing more. I think that public health should be focused on making as many options as possible available to as many people as possible rather than trying to make the individual’s choices and health the public’s business.
Sexiness – One of the more ridiculous types of hate mail that I receive are e-mails letting me know that the sender would never have sex with me. These are always phrased in a way that suggests they are under the impression that I care. I don’t understand why they would think that – that’s the kind of thing that they can really keep to themselves. Regardless it’s not our job to comport ourselves in such a way that other people will want to have sex with us.
Food Rationale – Food talk is a cultural phenomenon that I could very much live without. I would be perfectly happy if I went the rest of my life without hearing “I want a muffin but I can’t because I’m being good” or “I’m going to have to do 3 hours on the treadmill to make up for eating these grapes” or whatever “Will Perform For Food” thing society wants from us. Sometimes I try to imagine if we made all of our personal decisions out loud “Hmmm, I kind of have to pee, but not that badly so maybe I’ll finish this blog, or maybe I should go now and finish it with full concentration….” Who cares? Regardless, we don’t owe anybody an explanation of what we eat or don’t eat ever.
Apology/Explanation for Our Size – I see lots of people, even those in the Body Positive movement who say things like “sure I have some extra pounds” or “I don’t go to the gym enough” or “If I’m honest, I could work harder at being healthy” of course people are allowed to say whatever they want, but we can also explore the joy of not apologizing!
I’m sure there are plenty more but that’s a start, remember that not only do you not owe these things to anyone in any specific situation, you have every right to reject the entire premise and suggest that people drink a big steaming mug of None of Your Damn Business.
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