I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Without Judgement


We learn to judge sometime in our childhood. We learn to judge others and eventually ourselves. We begin to see the world through this new lens, but when we turn that lens upon ourselves we choose (or are taught) to see the negative. I think this self-judgement only worsens with time/age/environment. And I think that right now, in time or this year or whatever, it is worse than ever before in history. Women and girls see their self-worth directly tied to their weight and beauty. We push ourselves to a previously unfathomable degree and then sit back in shock and horror when such behaviors blow up in our collective faces. When breaking away from this type of thinking or behavior lands you in the “other” category or worse getting bullied.

I am still on my own personal path to a judgement-free life. I know it’s possible, I feel as though I am halfway there. I see people like Yoko Ono, the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey and more, teach these concepts and practices hoping to reach even a few minds ready for change. And that is the crux of it, isn’t it? Change. It is what drives us and freezes us in terror. The unknown is what scares us. Change is what we think we want when we feel positive. But it is when things are drastically wrong that we rally together for that change. When we are instructed or asked to change for our “own good” we resist with a resistance against it like little else in the world. As though changing one iota of ourselves for health or well-being or for the health and safety of our loved ones, would change yourself and your personality for good. I used to believe that people do not actually ever change, but I know now that that just isn’t so. I have changed so much that when I look back I am often horrified at the person I was or the shit I allowed to be done to me or brought into my life.

With every passing year I think I see the world slightly differently. It used to be me against the world. Then me and my husband against the world. Now it’s just us trying to live in harmony with the world as best we can. That is a major shift! I used to walk around with a black cloud overhead, the living gal version of Eeyore. I believe at one point that I was so worthless that I didn’t even deserve death, that the best punishment for someone like me (I was in my mid to late teens) is to live in misery and agony for the rest of my natural life. I believed that in my heart of hearts (where did that saying come from?). I bought into that self-created philosophy for many years. Even got a tattoo with Chinese characters that say “Everlasting Pain”. *HeadDesk* That is not the person I am now. Not even close! But I changed. I grew. I evolved and I opened myself up to new things and people and concepts and lifestyles and ideas and I made informed changes in my life.

What inspired this post is an article about a woman who gave up mirrors for a year. I was struck by that concept, especially how it might pertain to Fat Liberation. When we look at ourselves in the mirror we see what others see (or so we think). A good friend of mine once told me a story about shopping at a local Target and seeing an older but stylish woman looking at her from behind a clothes rack. Well, that woman was her! She was alarmed at how much older she appeared in the mirror (though don’t get me started on department store mirrors, yo). She and I are one month apart in age. I found the story humorous, but poignant, too. At what point do we hold onto an image of ourselves and refuse to let go? I have been exposed to a large swath of the population and it varies, I can tell you that much. I have found that for men, 21-25 is their ideal image of themselves (no research was done, this is a guestimation y’all). And for women it can be much younger or older than that. I think it has more to do with what was going on in their lives than anything else, hindsight being 20-20 and all.

This all reminds me of a quote from Andy Warhol, “I know a girl who just looks at her face in the medicine cabinet mirror and never looks below her shoulders, and she’s four or five hundred pounds but she doesn’t see all that, she just sees a beautiful face and therefore she thinks she’s a beauty. And therefore, I think she’s a beauty, too, because I usually accept people on the basis of their self-images, because their self-images have more to do with the way they think than their objective-images do.” That Andy knew what was up! I think that girl is me! Ha-ha! seriously! I don’t own a full-length mirror anymore (not intentionally, just situationally) and thus can only view myself from the shoulders up. Sometimes I see myself as a beauty, other times I just look tired. But I am who I am and I accept that. I try not to dwell on that reflected image, either.

Could I (could you?) give up mirrors for a year? I don’t know. I mean, I suppose I could, but driving? Hmm, that would be the hardest bit. To resist the ultimate temptation of looking in the rear view mirror at myself? I don’t think I could. But I don’t hate what I see in the mirror anymore. I know who I am and while certain aspects of my personality may always be in flux, I know that the core of my being is good and kind and strong and capable and important. I hold that closest to me. I remind myself often. I have to. Because in this world, right now, with the hate flowing from every pore and person? I have no choice but to love me for me, I can’t expect to receive or buy that anywhere else. There’s no installment plan for self-acceptance.  It takes work and it takes a willingness to be open to that concept to begin with.  And I am a much better person for having found it! I now have more meaningful relationships and work to honor and value them. I hope that you can find a way to accept and love yourself, too. For now, accept that I love and accept you just as you are, right now!


12 Comments to

“Without Judgement”

  1. On August 31st, 2011 at 10:56 am Shieldmaiden1196 Says:

    I think the challenge, and the real spiritual exercise in giving up mirrors, is giving up using them as a means of condemning oneself. I used to peer in the mirror to find imperfections and things to judge. Now I use it to put up my hair and make sure the kickass red lipstick I chose isn’t on my teeth. 🙂

  2. On August 31st, 2011 at 10:58 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Shieldmaiden1196: Excellent point! I think I am almost there, myself.

  3. On August 31st, 2011 at 1:41 pm Lori Says:

    I gave up mirrors for a long time through fear of what I’d see in there now every morning I look in the mirror and like the person I see, I dont mind how she looks I know she is good, kind loyal and many more admirable qualities. When she is tired there is usually a good reason, What I hate seeing in the mirror is the fear in my eyes and that is there too often. The intolerance in the world makes me very fearful if only we could learn to celerbrate our similarities regardless of size, race or religion rather than being suspicious of our differences the world would be a far better place.
    I think it is perhaps better to be able to look in the mirror and accept what you see as the wrapping on a beautiful gift, the gift of course being you.

  4. On August 31st, 2011 at 2:22 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Lori: Oh I love this, “accept what you see as the wrapping on a beautiful gift, the gift of course being you.” I’ve never heard it put quote so eloquently! Thank you!!!

  5. On August 31st, 2011 at 2:46 pm Twistie Says:

    @Lori: that may be the single most beautiful way of putting that concept I’ve ever heard/read.

    Topic: I have a brother who wraps his self-pity around himself as armor although he grew up in the same home as I did with the exact same parents. I know when he looks in the mirror, he sees the worst of what he thinks of himself magnified a thousand times.

    Me? I made friends with the mirror as a child. I saw me, and I liked me, even in the times when a lot of other people didn’t. To this day, the mirror shows me a cool person with pretty blue eyes and a wicked sense of humor, just as much as it does whether my hair is doing something odd.

    But I think the most important mirror in my life is one nobody can see. It lives inside, and I created it through years of acting and reading novels by masters of characterization like Tolstoy and Trollope. It’s the one that sees the best in people, because it’s made of compassion and empathy. It sees motivations as well as results, and realizes that things all too often don’t turn out the way we thought they would. It’s a gentle mirror, because there’s a fragile bit in the center of each of us that needs respect and nurturing.

    I don’t think my brother has a mirror like that inside him, and I pity him for it… or I would if he wasn’t spending so much time pitying himself. Instead, I just realize there’s nothing he can do for himself and nothing I can do for him until he finds a way to look on himself more compassionately (because compassion is very, VERY different from pity), and thus find more compassion for others.

    In the meantime, I have compassion for him because there was a brief time when I came all too close to doing what he’s doing to himself. It begins as an urge to protect, but quickly becomes a prison, if allowed to. Only the person who built that prison can open the door again.

    The metaphors may be all over the map, but I’m betting you understand what I’m on about. ; )

    Also, I have the worlds’ oddest mirror from the outside. I look precisely (and I’m talking spitting image here) like the great-grandmother for whom I was named. I have a handful of photographs of her. Looking at them is like looking in a mirror with really, really retro hair and fashion! LOL! I have her face. And since she was utterly awesome, well, how can I look in a real mirror and not like what I see?

  6. On August 31st, 2011 at 2:50 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Twistie: That is awesome, the bit about your great-grandmother! Wow! As for your bro, I’m sorry and I hope he finds a way to love himself one day. <3

  7. On August 31st, 2011 at 5:30 pm Lady ATX Says:

    I love that Andy Warhol quote–so wonderful.
    I have a funny relationship with mirrors–I am a professional wig and makeup artist for the theatre. It is literally my job to stand in front of mirrors and make other people happy with what they see there. It is a hard job to deal with sometimes–people are so amazingly hard on themselves, especially actors, dancers, and models whose jobs depend on the judgement of others. I do it because I love transforming people. That transformation comes in so many ways for me–it is not just about traditional Western standards of beauty, although that certainly comes up. I am just as happy to make someone old, or bizarre, or in some way marked by life (I especially love work like scars and fake tattoos.) I struggle with the idea of my job being in direct opposition to movements like FA. But I don’t think it is (I hope it isn’t, anyway!) For me, it all comes down to storytelling–I make performer look the way they look to tell the story that needs to be told.
    Back to the mirrors–I was watching a documentary the other day called “Every Little Step”, which is about both the making of the original Broadway show “A Chorus Line” and about casting the recent revival. They were discussing the song “The Music and the Mirror” and they said that because dancers grow up looking at themselves in the mirror, when you take the mirror away, they don’t really know who they are. I wonder if that is true for all of us? Something to think about. (And it’s a great documentary–I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Broadway musicals!)

  8. On September 1st, 2011 at 8:55 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Lady ATX: I don’t think your job goes against FA at all. I think it supports it. And anyone who supports the arts is fine by me! I will recommend that doc to my BFF who is a classic triple threat! Ha! Thank you and yeah, I wonder about that, too. Take away the mirror and are we left with only our inner-selves to rely on?

  9. On September 1st, 2011 at 2:58 am Emerald Says:

    I’ve had a difficult relationship with mirrors. As a teen, I stayed out of our hall, where the full-length mirror was, because I knew darn well if I hung around there for more than a split second, my mother would drag me in front of it and point out all the flaws I ‘should’ be so worried about (and it wasn’t just weight…she had serious issues about most of how I looked). If I ever, heaven forbid, actually lingered in front of a mirror with any expression that suggested I might be liking what I was seeing, I’d get some kind of sarcastic comment: ‘So you think you’re beautiful, do you?’

    Some years later, when my second husband and I got married, my mother didn’t ask about gifts at the time, but the following Christmas, said ‘Here’s my wedding present to you, because you need one’ – it was a full-length mirror. To understand the full force of that gesture, you’d have had to have seen her attitude to us as a couple – we’re a geeky pair who like what we like and are’t that bothered about what other people think we ‘should’ do or be or, especially, look like…and not only could she never stand that, she couldn’t stand that we were happy that way (and several times explicitly said so). The mirror was her way of saying we shouldn’t be quite so happy with ourselves, in the exact way that had given me the most misery growing up.

    True to form, the mirror didn’t fit with the rest of our bedroom, and we took it back to the store and changed it. When I look in it these days, I see a woman in her forties who’s lived through a lot, who’s come out of it tougher and who, what do you know, actually looks better, to me, for being more comfortable in her skin.

    The supreme irony…the one thing I fear in the mirror these days, for what should be, erm, obvious reasons, is seeing anything in my face that looks remotely like my mother! I’m fortunate, though, that I take after my dad’s side, and that if I start looking like anyone as I get older, it’s more likely to be my favorite aunt – who suffered some nasty prejudices in her own life, and was nevertheless a kind and wonderful person. It really is more about what’s on the inside.

  10. On September 1st, 2011 at 9:01 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Emerald: Ah, the classic “I’m miserable with myself and so everyone else should be too” story! I’m so sorry, hun. That’s a terrible thing for her to have done. I am glad you were able to exchange it.
    I didn’t mention this in the post, but when my family moved from an apartment to a duplex I was four and a half or something. Well, the first day I went out to play with the other kids on the block (around the corner) I was climbing a tree with one of them. The girl was talking to me, asking me questions. Then she said, “You’re pretty.” and I said, “I know” and kept climbing. She instantly shamed me for it. I didn’t fully grasp what “pretty” was, but knew that my relatives had said it about me. I thought it was just a descriptor like short or freckled. This kid instantly introduced me to the word conceited and ever since I have gone out of my way to never come close to that word again. I still struggle with those two words: pretty, conceited. I cringe when I think of that day and why it’s so fresh in my memory after all of these years. Those kids on that street were awful to me, but I was an only child for awhile and just wanted to play. I put up with their shit for so many years. Kids are kids, I suppose, but they were a special sort of bastards! Ha-ha!

  11. On September 1st, 2011 at 3:14 am Patsy Nevins Says:

    Great post & a great thing to work for. I do find it ironic when anyone lists Oprah Winfrey for a source for anything positive, since she is one of the most self-hating, fat-phobic people I have ever seen in the public eye. I hope she too can find self-love someday.

    Interesting quote from Warhol. How nice it would be had his friend been able to see herself in a full-length mirror & still see her beauty & love what she saw there. I am working on it, life is a process, growth is sometimes slow, says someone who is turning 62 next Tuesday.

    I also like the observation about men seeing themselves as between 21 & 25. I think there is so much truth in that, especially for some men, & most especially for men who had a youth as handsome, athletic, popular, successful members of the ‘beautiful people’. Aging is much harder & more traumatic for them than it usually is for those of us who are used to being more ‘ordinary’. I very deeply loved one such man for a long time & our relationship failed ultimately because of his self-image problems & his difficulty in accepting/adjusting to being in his 50’s & now ignored instead of sought after by pretty young girls; in his own mind, he still believes he is supposed to still be that buff, handsome football player who could get virtually any woman he wanted, at least temporarily. He has a long way to go to deal with aging, with being a lot more ‘ordinary’, with no longer being able to get anything he wants with his looks & charisma, with not getting second & third glances on the street, etc. Add in the physical changes of aging, the aches & pains, &, recently, the great trauma of watching his aging parents (in their late 80’s) fail & slide downhill toward death, having to care for them & lose the parents he knew, & being reminded that this can/will happen to him too, & he was unable to cope with me, & with our relationship. I also wish him well & hope that he finds true self-love, self-acceptance, & comfort with the person he is NOW & the real body in which he lives.

  12. On September 1st, 2011 at 9:08 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Patsy Nevins: I agree on Oprah’s self/fat-hating, but I also think that with age she has begun to see the error of those ways. Not defending her by any means, but a lot of what she said in her last episode (I’m no long-term follower, just taped the last couple of months for pop-culture importance) struck me deeply. You may see 2-3 more posts quoting her, but that’s probably it.
    Congratulations & Happy Birthday! I see age as an achievement these days. I’m getting more and more into history and it wasn’t so long ago that “old”meant 30! So rock on, you! <3
    I was watching a special on the Fuse channel (music videos mostly) and it was about "The 27 Club" (Janis, Jimi, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, etc) and they talked to a guy who knew Jim Morrison and was close to him. He felt that the demise of his looks was what pushed him over the edge in the end. That having to autograph pictures of his former beautiful self was too much for him to bear as he grew older and fatter and hairier. I had never heard that before. It struck me as both possibly true and terrible sad. That someone so talented as a writer and singer as Jim give it all up because he's not the hot young thing he used to be. So sad!
    I can't say that I've known anyone like this, but I can understand what that can feel like. I am dealing with a touch of that right now as I have found that my fat has shifted, my boobs are suddenly shaped differently and my skin is beginning to not be so, um, elastic?! I take it in stride and express my gratitude for the lovely life I do have and worry not about what I don't. It's not easy. But it's worth the work. *Hugs* Thanks so much for your comments.

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