Last month, when I was visting a friend, I apologized to our groups of friends for holding us up because I had to go to the bathroom. But before I left she stopped me and reminded me that I don’t have to apologize for my body. It was a small moment, but I’ve held on to it. It affirmed my body’s needs and my ownership of it so simply, yet powerfully, and I continue to check myself when I’m about to apologize for it.
And we do apologize for our bodies SO OFTEN. Recently the Rotund wrote: Fatties, I Challenge You; In Fact, I Dare You in which she challenged readers to cut it out:
You do not take up too much space. You are not an inconvenience. You are not a slacker. If it’s the first time you’ve ever done something, you do not have to apologize for not being perfect at it. If you have done something a hundred thousand million times, you still do not have to apologize for not being perfect at it.
Why do feel the need to apologize for our bodies’ needs and justify the choices we make about them? As I continue to incorporate body positivity into my life, I still find myself listing off what I ate all day to justify why I’m hungry now, or explaining, in detail, what made me so tired that I need a nap. But these are choices I’m absolutely allowed to make on my own, without any justification to anyone else. I decide when I eat, sleep, move and how I maintain my own personal health and appearance. Apologizing for, or justifying these choices and needs to others is unnecessary.
This is also an area where we can be body positive allies to others. When we remind others that they don’t need to apologize for their bodies or justify our choices about them, we affirm there sovereignty over their bodies. To repeat a quote I’ve used before (by Hazel/Cedar Troost), when we advocate for body sovereignty,
we won’t have only the strength of feminists behind us in challenging rape culture, nor only the strength of sex-posotive, polyamorous, and BDSM communities in fighting sex phobia, nor only fat people in fighting medically mandated eating disorders-we’ll have the sum total of everyone who wants their body back. And that’s most of us.
So do you accept that challenge? Will you stop apologizing for your bodies and affirm others’ rights to make choices about them? It starts with the simple acts of reminding each other that when we need to go to the bathroom we don’t have to apologize for holding others up, but it grows into a movement.