AW: Boundaries! Do Not Speak On My Body

By Regina Agada

Small talks are a great way of reducing uncertainty among people which may later morph into full-blown conversations on topical issues. There exists the growing culture of having conversations that are centered on a person’s physique which may imply that a level of familiarity or closeness among peers at the preference of the subject or person being referred to. However, uncouth and inappropriate descriptions with reference to specific areas of the body such as the breasts and the buttocks which most times can make a lady quite uncomfortable and may fuel the feeling of insecurity about one’s physique or serve as a breeding ground for self-hate, low self-esteem, shame, self- doubt.

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Out of fear of coming off as too serious; an introverted member of a group of friends whose physique is constantly being made fun of may decide to continuously let such violation of her personal space and her body by her friends continue out of fear of being alienated from the group. Imagine a scene where you’re hanging out with friends and a member of your inner circle starts describing the private part of a male peer with the excuse of simply making jokes (cringe-worthy moment right?). This shows that small talks of a female body part using comparisons of food, fruits ( small breast like orange) and objects has been normalized over the years which somewhat contributes to the objectification of the female body and has a long term effect on the respect attributed to it. Boundaries violations are easy to identify, an individual can exhibit boundary violation through body language, non -verbal cues, to verbal cues such as being vocal about how they feel.

Mapping boundaries among peers or acquaintances may seem like a daunting task due to existing friendship and familiarity. However, it is important to reiterate and make clear how you wish to be addressed and why you will not condone being referred to using certain slurs and descriptions; due to its implications on your mental health and self-confidence in general. The absence of boundaries in friendships and relationships gives room for the use of coinages and expressions with derogatory meaning which has serious implications on how comfortable she will feel while being talked about. Perhaps it is advisable to choose what kind of information one decides to share with friends, sexually explicit information may be a breeding ground for boundary violation.

Maintaining relationships with peers requires a lot of work and patience which can be attributed to the fact that not every member of the group shares the same convictions on sensitive issues and individual backgrounds can sometimes influence actions and decisions. Before setting out on the gruesome journey of constantly correcting strangers on such descriptions and violation of our body, it should start with our inner circle; our male and female friends, a person in the position of power, relatives, coworkers who are guilty of this act. Hence, setting boundaries can serve as a nurturing ground for healthy relationships free of all forms of prejudice and disrespect. One of the core components of friendships is mutual respect while honouring the differences that individuals share, establishing boundaries helps with creating healthy relationships through an open attitude of acceptance and awareness of the insecurities of others.

Approaches towards setting boundaries can be quite tricky with a few grey areas, being polite but assertive works better than being abrasive and loud. The polite and assertive route shows that you’re in control of your feelings and emotions and you are not afraid to put a disrespectful person in their rightful place, more so, it gives the person overstepping their bounds the opportunity to pay close attention to your concerns.

Setting boundaries with regards to our body can be life-changing, it gives you control over your body and what type of conversation that you are willing to engage in with your friends and strangers as well. It helps with establishing that balance in communication and the type of energy you want to be around, rather than condone negative energy for the sake of maintaining friendships. Friendships are great but setting boundaries strengthen a relationship which leads to long term friendships and as women it is important to be assertive while being protective of our body which has a long term on our dignity as well.

Source: Above Whispers

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