“They shouldn’t be wearing THAT!” We’ve all been guilty of this kind of judgment… Here’s how to transform this toxic reaction.
Since it’s summer and folks are wearing a whole array of clothing — from skimpy to flowy to wild — I thought this would be a good time to explore all the judgment that seems to come along with that.
Yeah, I know… this doesn’t apply to YOU… Body shaming is what all those unenlightened folks do.
But, let’s be honest here… How often have you caught yourself having a judgy reaction to someone you see on the street wearing something that traditionally wasn’t “supposed” to be worn by their body type, age, or gender?
I sheepishly admit that this has been MY knee-jerk reaction (with an emphasis on the “jerk”) many times in my life… ‘What are they thinking?! They shouldn’t be wearing that!’ often used to ring through my head.
That is, until one day a few years ago… I found myself mid-sentence in my head finally really hearing that nasty voice. It suddenly hit me how totally at odds this judgment was for someone who supposedly valued tolerance and love so deeply. I realized that even though I wasn’t expressing my judgment outwardly, thinking it was deepening a groove on the landscape of my inner world that I really didn’t like.
At this point in my life, I’d already been around the block enough times to know that where there’s a big reaction to something (especially something that’s none of your business), there’s some powerful conditioning going on. I knew I had to investigate…
Where the hell did that mean-girl come from??
So, whenever the ‘They shouldn’t be wearing that!’ reaction silently rose up in me, I used it as an alarm bell to STOP, get curious about this reaction, and ask myself these questions:
- “Shouldn’t” according to WHO?
(answer that came to me: a patriarchal, heteronormative, and terrified-of-change society)
- Are the people who made these rules ones whose opinions I even respect?
(answer: Ahh… HELL no!)
- Why did people make such stringent rules around fashion and body?
(answer: their own insecurity… grasping for power to protect them from the fear that they’re not good enough or that they’ll be obliterated by change… OUCH!)
- What insecurity is in me that I need to feel superior to others in this way?
(answer: insecurity about my own body and the fear that I’m not good enough causes me to be resentful that others feel secure enough to dress the way they want… DOUBLE OUCH!)
Sure, it didn’t feel awesome to uncover this about myself, but really understanding the truth of how this judgment got programmed into me by a wounded society, helped me to dismantle it.
Dismantling judgment without the layer of self-judgment
And instead of going into a shame spiral over my jerky behaviour (which usually just creates more jerky behaviour), I practiced some self-compassion by acknowledging what a snow job our insecure society has done on us and, instead, resolved that I would work hard to no longer be part of the problem.
In fact, this is the kind of process I try to go through whenever any kind of judgment comes up in me.
From judgy to JUICY
Luckily, in terms of how people dress, I’ve done a complete 180… My reaction now is… GOOD ON YA! Wear it and own it!
In fact, individuals of every kind of body who break fashion constraints are now an inspiration to me. Their fuck-it attitude is wonderfully contagious and gives me permission to free my body from so many of society’s stupid rules.
So, Dearest… here’s to making this the summer of body-love!