I’m going to give you all a gift tonight. A gift that was given to me not that long ago, but one of the most valuable I’ve ever received. One that has changed my life and made how I approach the world and everything in it very differently. Best of all, this gift is absolutely, 100% free. It costs me nothing to give to you, but I hope you get as much value from it as I have.
It is a bit of a multi faceted gift, which has several parts you can put together and use as you need them. Are you ready?
Your life is yours.
Yep. That’s the gift I’m giving you. The knowledge that your life is your own. It doesn’t belong to anyone but you. Not your parents, not your boss, not your partner, not your kids, not your doctors. It’s yours. It doesn’t belong to “experts”. Because the only expert on your life is YOU. You get to choose what you eat, what you wear, what you do to your hair and your skin, what medical treatment you have, what you do with your body, who you have sex with (and don’t have sex with), who you talk to, what you read and what you feel. Those are yours to choose.
You do have responsibilities of course, we all do, but that doesn’t make your life any less yours. When you say or do something, you have to accept the consequences of your words and actions. But those consequences are as much yours as your words and actions. Yes, you might have to be responsible for your children, a job, a home, a business, all those things that we have in our lives, but that doesn’t make your life any less yours. You get to work within the boundaries of your responsibilities and make the choices you need to make, with the information that you can source at any given time. That’s the crucial bit – arming yourself with lots of information, so that you can make informed choices. The more informed your choices, the less likely you will regret it later.
But what I really want to acknowledge is that when people try to take our lives away from us, to control us and oppress us, as they do to those of us who are marginalised in society, we don’t have to just tolerate it. We don’t have to play nice, we don’t have to listen to their “opinions” and we certainly don’t have to modify our lives to suit them. When people say fat people can’t/shouldn’t/don’t do or be something, they are defining our lives for us, not allowing us to define them ourselves. We have every right to say “Enough!” We have every right to tell them to piss off. We have every right to completely ignore their “advice” or opinions. You don’t have to respect someone who cannot respect your ownership of your own life.
The best thing is, when we stand up for our ourselves in the face of this kind of control, it has a cumulative effect. It benefits other people like us, who are also pushed into doing or being something other than they want to. And it benefits other marginalised people. That’s the good bit about intersectionality. Speaking up about equality and personal freedom benefits everyone. The stronger we get about ourselves, the more energy we can devote to speaking up about the other wrongs in our world.
The next time someone randomly pushes their advice, opinions or assumptions about your life on you, remind yourself that your life is yours. You can walk away from that person, not engage with them, or you can simply tell them to piss off, the choice is yours.