Talking Back to the Body Police
Written by Arielle Juliette
Several many years ago, I had a friend, I will call him Chad for the purposes of this story. Chad, whom I considered a friend, told me that I needed to have been wearing a bodystocking years ago (this was an indirect way of saying I was too unsightly to be allowed to show my stomach/skin). Well, needless to say, Chad stopped being my friend but because he's a part of the belly dance scene, I still have to see him occasionally. About a year ago, he came to one of my shows in which I had planned to wear a bodystocking because the top is basically two discs and two straps, but I just could not give him the satisfaction and went out with my tiny, ill-fitting top and bare midriff. Whenever I would approach him, I would stop very close, look him right in the eye, and shimmy my belly super aggressively at him.
I can't even tell you how satisfying this was, and just recalling the memory brings me the purest of joy. SCREW YOU, CHAD! I DESERVE TO BE SEEN AND TAKE UP SPACE!
This was the beginning of anthropomorphizing the "Body Police", which made it easier for me to talk back to it. The Body Police is the critical voice in our head saying things like, "you're too much/not enough of X", or "you don't have worth or deserve to be seen unless you X". Most of us have this voice, whether it came from an actual person or just from society at large, and talking back to it can be a wildly liberating experience.
Step 1: Identify the critical voice. What is this voice saying? What are the actual words? Get it out of your head and onto paper, or say it out loud to yourself or to someone you trust.
Step 2: Give it a name. This can be Body Police, Chad, anything at all that you want to name it.
Step 3: Talk back. Create affirmations that you can say back to the Body Police. If it's too challenging to think about saying nice things to yourself, reframe it- pretend instead that you are listening to someone you love saying terrible things about themselves. What would you say to them? Here are some examples to get you started:
I have the right to be loved and respected no matter what I look like
I have the right to take up space
My worth is inherent
My body is on my side and does more for me than any critic ever has
Step 4: Repeat, repeat, repeat! Talk back whenever these critical messages pop up in your head. Keep saying these every day, even if you don't believe them. It helps to create a community of like-minded people around you, if you can. If you don't have anyone, message me! I would love to be on the journey with you.
So tell me, what are some Body Police messages that you frequently hear in your head? Do you talk back to it, and if so what do you say? Sound off in the comments!