The Right to Take up Space Part I

I have the right to take up space. I have the right to spread out and make myself visible. And at 5′-8″ and 230 pounds, you’d think it would be easy.

But it’s not.

Women have been taught to make themselves small and invisible in a myriad of ways. These are just some of the ways in which we are encouraged not to take up space.

  1. Be thin and shut up.
  2. Don’t be too loud or vulgar — it’s not feminine.
  3. Think before you speak. You might offend someone.
  4. Don’t be too smart or no man will like you.
  5. Don’t be too aggressive or you’ll be perceived as a bitch. 
  6. Look at these ads with thin models and use all your energy to try to look like them. You never will, but keep trying anyway. That way you don’t have the energy to engage in conversations about the oppression you are experiencing.
  7. Don’t be too emotional if you want to be successful in business, because people will think you can’t handle the job.
  8. Wear clothes that you find uncomfortable and restrictive so you can reinforce the idea that your worth is measured by how you appear to others.
  9. Tell your daughters it’s their fault when they are sexually assaulted or get unwanted attention from men.
  10. When you’re sitting on an airplane, bus or train, keep your arms and legs crossed, being sure not to demand any space.

men taking up space

I watched this amazing poetry performance by Lily Myers, and it resonated with me very deeply. Let me know what you think.

The next post will be about how you can start taking up as much space as you fucking well please. 

How have you been taught not to take up space?  Leave your comments below.

In solidarity,


12 thoughts on “The Right to Take up Space Part I

  1. This is so very real. I am 5’3″ 260lbs and the photo image alone is a trigger for me! On the daily. I actually flashedback to easily literally over 10 years ago and about 80lbs less when I was living in NYC on the train and dared to sit in the seat next to a dude sitting exactly like this pic above and he bounced up and started verbally assaulted me for 20 minutes while every one else just stared. Believe not joking when I say rage triggering. I have no interest in being part of that intimidation I see regularly that people who take up more room out of hostility emit. But I will not fear taking up space.


  2. Yes! This! I’ve been feeling this way for awhile. Especially around flying. I squeeze by fat body into my window seat while the person in the middle spreads out as far as they can. I don’t want to offend anyone but in the process I belittle myself. THANK YOU Pia for writing this and I can’t wait to read the next article. You rock!


  3. It’s the same in movie theatres. Who are the people who usually occupy all the space on chair airm? Men, of course. But I started fighting for my right to use chair arms. I put my arms on them and don’t flinch. My arms are firm on the chair arms even if a man’s elbows try to scare them away.


  4. Pingback: The Right to Bare Arms | chronicles of a mixed fat chick

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