Judgment is the word of the day, my friends.
Post a photo of yourself, ladies, and you can expect various things to happen. There are the inevitable compliments from those that love you (“You’re so beautiful!” “You look fantastic!” “I love your hair!”). And – if you run a popular fitness page – there are the inevitable haters (“You’re not thin/ripped/lean enough to give advice!”). But let’s say you aren’t running a popular page. Let’s say you only post your photo on your personal profile.
Still getting judged.
You will be judged for your hair, your makeup, your pose, your clothing, your shoes, your wrinkles or lack of them, your size, your chosen background, the way you flare your nostrils or the fact that your bra strap is showing.
Wearing shorts? A bathing suit? Best to crop out the cellulite (because we all have it) – but then you’ll be judged for being fake.
And let’s take this one step further. Step out your door. Someone you meet today is going to think to themselves, “She’s wearing that?” While someone else will certainly think, “I wish I was wearing that.”
Does anyone else have the right to judge you? Abso-fuckin-lutely not. But that most certainly will not stop it from happening. At this point, your only control, should you choose to participate in this fabulous world, is over yourself. Here is the one question you need to answer: What’s right for you?
Here’s what’s right for me:
Skinny jeans with a lot of stretch that I can cuff into capris. Tank tops. Tshirts with quotes. Bandanas. Paleo. Running. Yoga. Beachbody workouts. Books of all sorts. Body wraps. Chocolate cake. Staying home with my kids. Reruns of Will & Grace and Buffy. Cheap manis and pedis. Warm tea and thick covers and crisp fall days. My dog’s warm weight on my cold feet and the way my cat sneaks up beside me on the bed.
I could go on. Because there are lots of things that are right for me which aren’t necessarily right for you. And you can judge me based on my body if you want. I can’t stop you. I have certainly judged it on my own for most of my adult life, worrying over its lines and curves and aches and pains. I judged it so much and so hard I nearly destroyed it, so focused was I on the amount of space it took up in the world.
I tried to make the space less. I played little games in my twenties, tracking how long I could go between meals and seeing if I could beat my longest times. This didn’t make me so much thin as it made me bitchy. I wore oversized clothes in my early thirties, favoring turtlenecks and long pants over tanks and shorts. Both plans of attack accomplished much the same thing: I hid myself. I was so focused on my outward appearance that I forgot to nourish the rest of me.
When did the switch flip? When did I start to occupy more space?
I don’t really know. Around the time of my divorce, perhaps. Or maybe it was after the birth of my youngest child. Or maybe even when I trained for that first half marathon just to prove that I could do it. Or maybe it was when I did do it.
Am I completely free of self judgment now? Let’s be serious. I still have days when I trace the scar from three C-sections woefully, feeling the slight overpooch above it, days when I see it as a scar and not as proof of the miracles my body worked. I can bemoan my dimpled thighs, my knees I’ve always considered too chubby, or my big toes that lean inward at jaunty angles.
They don’t happen often because I don’t let them happen often. It’s a choice. I can wallow; I’m quite good at it actually. Throw on The Doors, shrug into my most faded black tshirt, refuse to shower. Maybe read The Bell Jar.
But then – what am I missing out on? I’d miss my workout (going through TurboFire again and that’s too fun to miss). I’d miss giggling at mile 20 of a marathon with my girlfriends. I’d miss watching my son write his own blog posts, my daughter nail her stunt at cheerleading, my toddler learning to shake his booty, and Hubby playing football with them all in the backyard. Who has time to worry about a “fat day” when there’s life? It’s right out there, every day, everywhere.
And here’s another thing I don’t do anymore either: I don’t use up my time caring what others judge me for. That’s on them. If they want to spend their time worrying over my latest hairstyle, whether my body is fit enough to offer advice, or exactly how many cupcakes I’ve stolen from the kids’ snack table…well, that’s their wasted moment. I’m too busy thinking how bangin’ these cupcakes are.
See, we can’t control the Others. They’ll judge and they’ll snicker and sometimes they’ll even emulate. But we can control ourselves. It just takes practice.
“In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
Keep your eyes on the track.