My Body is Political

May 26, 2012

In today’s society if your body looks different to the one media presets you, you should know, that your body is political

I vary from the standard image of a woman. Not as much as some. I am Caucasian, able-bodied and cis-gendered. And while I am within average range of most actual women, my body shape and size varies from the shape of the ubiquitous image presented by the media and especially advertising. (Yours probably does too.)

To occupy my size, my shape, my space is a political act. By virtue of existing I am a statement. By just being, I defy the false norm. I contest the unrealistic expectations and I deviate from expectations.

My body is political…

…and it is not even intentional. Sure I’ve done my fair fair share of intentionally deviant and political efforts with my appearance. I’ve dyed, shaved, braided and dredded my hair. I’ve been tattooed and pierced and I’ve worn outrageous, tie-dyed, torn, over-sized, homemade and vaguely gender-non-conforming clothing. I’ve deliberately behaved in rude crass, illegal and gross ways.

But it’s still take me this long to realise that all I had to do to make a political statement was just be. Be apologetically and unashamedly. That alone is political.

Because I choose not to beat myself up over my weight, or have surgery to adapt my body to conform with norms.

And yes, to be means to take up space. And that we do. I do.

Like yesterday, on a flight, I found myself engaging in that arm-rest battle. You know the one, where if you give an inch you lose the entire armrest. I found myself trying to tuck my arm in to impossible angles and actually leaning away from the center of my seat to accommodate the bloke next to me. Just like road-rage, this impersonal clash of people’s bodies triggers the same sense of entitlement and passive aggression.

My inner dialogue went something like this:

He’s in my space

Maybe he hasn’t noticed he’s in my space

Move over buddy

Perhaps the seats are unusually narrow

I’m entitled to my space

Perhaps he needs more space than I do

Stop being so nice and accommodating

He needs room for his newspaper

I’m uncomfortable! Claim your space!


But of course I didn’t.  Nothing like being in a confined space without an exit or social backup to make you wimp out on your own convictions.




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