Earlier this week, I saw a former colleague post a photo of a woman with a disparaging comment about her appearance and was deeply disturbed.
A series of questions rose up inside—for me, for this woman and for the global sisterhood as a whole.
We see it now with the nasty comments made about Hillary Clinton’s voice, wardrobe and hair. We see it directed toward Michelle Obama and toward their daughters. We hear about it on social media, in the news, and from our weeping daughters as they convey stories of the mean girls whose nastiness caused them pain.
Girls around the world struggle with body image issues. The unrealistic ideal that has been set by our society has record levels of women and girls flocking to cosmetic surgeons and Pinterest to learn the newest ways to create the illusion of ideal beauty. Our sisters suffer with myriads of issues including anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder and bulimia. Some have just given up altogether and have surrendered hope.
Sisters, we must do better by each other.
It is the easiest thing in the world to shame or judge another woman but it takes a bigger person to stop it. It does nobody any good to tear another sister down but can make all the difference in the world to extend loving kindness. Many women will share how finding love and acceptance in the world was the key to helping them change their self-perception, make different choices and heal their deepest pain.
I am not judging those who have shamed or judged another, as I too have been guilty of this. Whether the judgment takes place publicly as in the post I mentioned or whether it takes place in a quiet corner of your mind that you wouldn’t dare give voice to publicly, it has the same effect. The poisoned arrows you shoot out may find their mark in a tender psyche that is too fragile to deflect. A dirty look or lifted nose may find its home in a heart that has already taken too many blows from an unkind world.
We can do better.
We start within. We find all the places in ourselves that are unhealed, unloved and unaccepted and begin loving them back to life. We learn to love ourselves as we are on the road to where we are going. We offer ourselves the kindness we may have not received from others and then we learn to take it outside to the rest of the world.
The truth is that we don’t know what people are struggling with.
The woman in the too small clothes that someone is judging may have lost her home in a tragedy and is simply trying to make do with what is available.
The woman who is obese may have a medical issue or may struggle with depression.
The woman whose face looks drawn and haggard may have gained those lines deeply etched in while sitting beside a dying child.
The woman who you deem as dressing too young for her age may have just recently got her groove back after a bad marriage.
Any of those women may just not give a single f*ck what anyone else says and is basking in their liberation. The truth is that the backstory doesn’t really matter because as any one of us sits it judgment of another, we are revealing far more about ourselves.
Unless you take the time to know someone, you may not know what hell they have gone through.
Sadly, the person whose post inspired this blog will not likely see it as she promptly deleted me when I questioned her motives for shaming the woman in the photo. But…someone will and it will cause them to pause before taking the same action. It may prompt someone to get stop judging and start loving.
Sisters, we must do better and we can do better. We live in a world that is already hard enough. Let’s not make it harder for each other. Give love—radical, outrageous love that is not contingent upon whether someone fits into the box you think they should occupy (including you).
Author: Lisa Vallejos, PhD
Image: YouTube still
Editor: Renee Picard