Whose body is it anyway?

You might be forgiven for thinking that you are an autonomous person whose body belongs to you. Have it tattooed, pierced, implanted, sterilized; it’s no-one else’s business. Dye your hair or cut it all off. Apply as much or as little makeup as you wish. Even kill yourself. You must cover it up when you go out, but other than that, even if you have a bone through your nose or put big holes in your earlobes it’s your body to do with as you wish.

However, several stories have emerged this week in the British press suggesting that society is claiming rights over your body and how you treat it:

  • ‘Fat Shaming’ cards handed out to commuters on the London underground
  • The move to assumed consent to organ donation in Wales
  • The BMA call for a sugar tax
  • A proposal to ban skinny catwalk models

Each of these initiatives has a tenuous justification. But they mark a significant general trend towards other people – or the State itself – claiming rights over your body, and imposing what has been decided is in your best interest.

The nasty individuals taking it upon themselves to hand out cards to people they deem to be overweight would say that the NHS carries the cost of obesity.

The Welsh Assembly say that not enough people bother to complete an organ donor card. The assumption that you are OK with your organs being taken will save lives.

Doctors meddling in matters of taxation argue that sugar is bad for us and its consumption needs to be discouraged.

The proposed skinny models ban is aimed at protecting both models (who may be under pressure to look ever more emaciated), and impressionable people who feel driven to emulate them.

The message is becoming clear. You are not to be trusted to take care of yourself. If you want other people to let you live the way you want, just make sure you are not too fat or too thin. And if you live in Wales and want to keep hold of your organs, then register your decision!

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