We are brought up learning that it’s bad to be different. It’s REALLY bad to be fat. The weight shaming begins when we are young, and for most people never goes away.
When I was about 25 I went to a rural retreat with my boyfriend. It was a true “get back to nature” experience, complete with long walks to get anywhere, vegetarian eating, dorm rooms, and outdoor squat toilets (I know–gross, right?) We were surrounded by vegetarian hippies who were looking for a simpler life. We were actually wanna-be hippies then,too!
I can picture the moment so clearly. It was very hot out, and I was walking down a long path. There were some steps, and a family was coming up the steps as I went down them. There was a little girl who couldn’t have been more than six years old who stopped on the stairs and looked at me. “You’re so fat,” she proclaimed.
I kinda wanted the world to just swallow me up right then and there. I mean, here I was, working on finding peace and serenity in this bucolic environment, and this little miss decides it’s okay to point out my most vulnerable judgement about myself. I didn’t have words to respond. I just didn’t look at her, but kept on walking. But her judgement stayed with me, and made a crappy week almost unbearable. (Go figure–I was not a vegetarian hippie!)
This incident happened over 30 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. That is the power of shame. Of being called out on something you’re not comfortable with. Of others’ judgements.
The good news about all of us is that now we are adults. The bad news is that there are still many people who will try to shame us. They will belittle us either openly or subtly. They may pretend to be your friend while investing all sorts of energy in trying to change you. They may openly criticize us. They may discriminate against us. And even though we are now adults, the power of others’ negativity still has an incredible impact on us.
To take back our power we need to remember that we are the only people who should be judging us. And although that should be an empowering thought, too many of us have heard about out differences– our being told we’re too fat, too loud, too dumb, too ugly–so often, that we believe it. So our self-talk, the most powerful and important talk we have, becomes riddled with these remarks, which we’re taught should make us ashamed. It’s a vicious cycle.
As You Are is about learning to love yourself. Learning to embrace or change your differences–whichever makes you happy. About building friendships with other fine people who are done being judged and judging. People who, like you, are ready to live in strength and love.
Members of the As You Are Community can dig deeper by exploring the video “Being Vulnerable” and the accompanying Growth Work “Wheel of Life”. If you’re not yet a member of the As You Are Community, you can learn more about it here.