I study languages. I grew up speaking English and Korean at home, and now I’m fluent in Modern Standard Arabic with the ultimate goal of teaching Arabic to native English speakers. World peace requires a bridge between languages to be formed so that people can understand each other.
There is, however, one language I do not and will never understand. It’s when people comment on other peoples bodies and physical appearances.
I’ve heard countless times from people close to me about how I need to lose weight, work out more, “be healthier,” and wear different clothing. But here’s the thing: I am healthy. Not just in appearance, but in how I think as well. I know that there are no such things as good or bad foods, and I know how to integrate a balanced routine into my life.
So when people make comments about my physical appearance, or make wild assumptions about my state of fitness, I get angry. I get really angry. Because statements about size, body shape, weight, and other aspects of one’s physical appearance do not have any merit, and should never be said to another person. The effect that seemingly innocent comments have on people should not be understated.
The other glaring problem that comments like these highlight is how the clothing industry sizes clothes. The fact that at one brand, I’m one size, and at another brand, I’m a totally different size for the same article of clothing is quite triggering and creates the atmosphere for comments to be made about my body, if I’m shopping with someone else.
Listening to this kind of rhetoric when I’m out shopping takes all the fun away from shopping, and even when it’s made clear that I don’t appreciate the rhetoric, people are still going to say whatever they want. But half the battle is education. You can counter negative comments with “hey I really didn’t appreciate that,” or “maybe next time, instead of commenting on my body, you could comment on how the color of my dress looks on me instead.” Even if the people around you don’t seem to understand, they will definitely have heard what you said, and it hopefully it will give them pause.
The next time someone makes a comment towards your physical appearance, try countering it with education. Fostering conversation about difficult topics and things that make you uncomfortable is how the paradigm surrounding triggering language will change.
Image via nappy.co