“Don’t Say Such Things About Yourself!”

I was talking to a colleague about the difficulty of buying pants.

“I’m not thin,” I said. “So buying pants is always difficult.”

The colleague looked horrified. She grabbed my arm, looked me deep in the eye, and said passionately, “Of course you are thin! Don’t say such things about yourself.”

The thing is that I wasn’t trying to be coy or self-deprecatory with my statement. I was just mentioning a fact of objective reality. I’m not thin. Like I’m not male, not Japanese, and not an airplane. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a fact.

So I tried to convey this to the colleague.

In response, she offered me a mini-speech on the importance of a positive body image and self-confidence. Of course, I had always thought that positive body image and self-confidence had more to do with being capable of stating that you are not thin when that’s how things are than with pretending to be what you are not. But I guess different people have different definitions for these concepts.

17 thoughts on ““Don’t Say Such Things About Yourself!”

  1. I like that! I really do.

    It kind of mirrors what’s been happening on one of my blogs recently, with all kinds of people telling me that I ought to have a negative self-image because of my “whiteness”, with the implication that you have to have an identity crisis whether you need one or not.

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  2. I’ve gotten the exact same thing too! “Oh, no, nominatissima, don’t say that! You’re not fat, you’re curvy/voluptuous/pear-shaped/full figured/juicy/zaftig/pleasingly plump!”
    Can’t I be all of those and fat as well? I certainly have no problem with being all of the above.

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    1. You know, I used to be kind of put off by the fact that people have started willingly calling themselves fat, until I realized that they weren’t trying to shame themselves–they’re just stating an objective fact.

      Now I feel that having a positive body image means acknowledging that you’re fat without being ashamed of it–and trying to use euphemisms to avoid the word “fat” is a marker of shame.

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  3. I love this post.
    The fact that having some extra weight might actually be seen as attractive to some people, doesn’t seem to occur to her.

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  4. I had always thought that positive body image and self-confidence had more to do with being capable of stating that you are not thin when that’s how things are than with pretending to be what you are not.

    +1

    But I guess different people have different definitions for these concepts.

    I doubt that. Such people try to feel better by pretending not to have the quality they can’t accept about themselves. F.e. “I am curvy, not fat!” Of course, they don’t fool themselves and it’s just a way trying to hide insecurities, of protecting one’s ego, not a real self-acceptance, which imo is incompatible with (self) lies.

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  5. I live with a person who is over 300 pounds, she knows that she’s fat but she’s not going to hate herself. There is a difference between hating your body and stating a fact about it. Like I know I have acne vulgaris, the worst kind of acne, but I’m not going to hate my skin. I just state that I can’t wear makeup [it makes it worse].

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  6. oh, that´s so stupid. thinking -or just saying- you are thin when you are not is nothing like “having a positive image of your body”. it´s just lying to yourself.

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  7. I read your statement as “dam’ stores don’t carry properly cut pants”. I too have trouble findng good pants, and I would be considered “thin” . Of course I insist on having decently deep pockets, the ability to squat in them without splitting the seam, an absence of jelly-roll fat over the top (no hip-cut pants, please!), and belt loops or drawstring adjustment. I thought everyone hated shopping for pants because it takes forever to find a pair that fits well and has the pockets, etc.

    I have taken to shopping at sporting good/ outdoors equipment stores (Alpine Shop, REI) and buying some brands of men’s pants, which tend to be roomier in the butt than the women’s versions. You’d think it would be the other way around.

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    1. Oh, I agree. Pants are very difficult to find for people with all body types. When I teach, I need to be able to move around freely, without fearing the sound of the seam splitting when I sit down. I’ve pretty much given up on wearing pants at this time. 😦

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  8. ARGH! This is always so aggravating for me.

    Because usually when I’m talking about it, it’s explicitly in the context of wearing plus-size clothes and so having fewer store options than for people who wear smaller sizes.

    Listeners are like, “Ooh, but you’re not fat! Don’t call yourself fat!”

    And I’m like, “I can call myself a unicorn farting magic pixie dust, but it does not change the reality that I wear size 20 pants!”

    Usually, the mental image of a unicorn farting pixie dust sufficiently confuses them, so they stop talking. At this point, I’m okay with that.

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  9. It all comes down to the fact that there is such little regard for the truth. Many people have bought into the reletivism of our age. It is evident in the whole “political correctness” movement. I, for one, believe in and respect the Truth. When I look back on my life, it seems obvious the times of my greateast growth, as a human being, have come as I’ve faced a certain truth about myself.

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