“If I teach you nothing else- wait, I lie, I want to teach you other things, too, but this is a really important thing I want you to learn from your time in this class:
When someone critiques your physicality, it is never about you. It’s about him or her– about something they have going on with that issue; about the place that observation has in their own lives. Always. It’s not about you. If I can make you understand one thing, it is that. When someone comments on your weight, they have some back story history with weight. Hair, same thing. Nose, same thing. You think who you are and how you are in this world is evoking this response in them. You are not. Who they are and how they are in the world is evoking this response in them.”
Friday was Parents, Peers and Body Image day in the body image seminar I teach. And, inevitably, there were the tales of what harm parents and friends have done with their observations about others. And, as always, I delievered my second big idea (almost verbatim to the red statement above) that I want to make sure my students understand before we are done at the end of the semester (big idea #1 is that the whole reason that resolving body image issues is so important is because we’re here ON purpose): The comment about your weight, hair, nose, skin, breasts, etc is NEVER about you. Those comments aren’t revealing about the person to whom they are said; they are revealing about the person who said them. Embrace that and you have a whole new tool in your tool kit for getting through life.
Last week, on Facebook, I wrote, that self-acceptance is a revolutionary act. And it is for so many reasons. But, perhaps, the reason self-acceptance is so revolutionary is that it ultimately frees a person from everyone else’s standards and allows her to begin the journey of becoming her fully realized best self- because other people’s perceptions of what should be your best self are no longer in your way. You get to authentically be who you are and who you are meant to be. And when we are rooted in our own truth and our own reality, we are magically empowered. Empower each of us and the world’s needs are better able to be met (and a footnote: I don’t believe we all need to go out there and cure cancer but I do believe that we all need to go out there and do what we were meant to do- whatever that might be for each one of us). For some, the idea of people being empowered seems dangerous, and so they tempt you away from the revolution. What I have learned to be true over time, though, is that realizing the revolution is far less dangerous- and terrifying- than living without it.