Too Skinny? Too Fat?
The Dangers of Body Image Judgement Without the Whole Story!
by Kelly Songy-Nelson
Asher and I watched Sesame Street together this morning. In this episode, Big Bird was invited to join the “Good Bird Club”. When he went to the first meeting, they wouldn’t let him in because he had big feet, was yellow and had a funny voice. So Big Bird, in an effort to conform to “good bird” standards, asked Abby Cadabi to change him into a small-footed blue bird. Even with those changes, the “good birds” still laughed and made comments about Big Bird…to his face. Big Bird was crushed and began to doubt his “goodness”
That episode got me thinking. Have you ever been in a public place – like a shopping mall – and as you pass by someone, judgmental thoughts pop into your head.
Yes, you know, those little comments that pop into our head and sometimes fly out of our mouth. Have you ever stopped to think about those little, seemingly “harmless” phrases?
“Oh that girl needs to eat a sandwich”
“That person definitely does not need fries with that”
“OMG I can’t believe she’s wearing THAT”
“wow, that girl is so skinny. She must be anorexic or bulimic or something”
“Look at that big guy over there walking near the food court. He needs to walk a lot faster and a lot longer.”
There are many others, but the point of this isn’t to make a list. The point is that maybe next time you have one of these thoughts that you’ll stop to examine it. Why do you have those types of thoughts just pop into your head? Do you know the person that you’re thinking these rude comments about? Do you know their story?
If you’ve seen my past blog posts, you know that I was very thin growing up. I’ve heard all the comments. I still hear them to this day. My arms and legs are very thin – and after 30+ years of hearing those comments, I’d be silly to say that it hasn’t had an effect on me. It’s the beginning of summer and everyone is sporting short skirts and shorts and I would love to be able to just flaunt a pair of cute shorts and heels. But the minute I do, I hear a bazillion comments about how “skinny” my legs are. “Oh my gosh – both of your thighs together make up ONE of mine.” And then I get the people who like to measure the size of my wrist then measure theirs…insert comment! While I understand that in some twisted way, these are supposed to be compliments, I know that the comments come out of THEIR insecurities.
Jimmy and I have recently watched the HBO Series Weight of the Nation. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to check it out. You can watch it free online. While watching it, there were stories of heavier people who have lost a considerable amount of weight by making small changes in their diet. They were in the middle of their weight loss journey.
To the average person who passes these folks, I’m sure some comments about their size would be whispered under their breaths. But what if that person wore a shirt that said “100 pounds lost! 100 more to go!!”? Would those same comments still be spoken or would they be turned around into words of encouragement?
I would love to freeze time just for a moment (the way Zach Morris used to on Saved By The Bell!) just before people make judgmental or offensive comments. I’d like to let them take a moment to learn a little about the person that they’re about to unleash their words on and see if it’s really something that’s worth saying or thinking. During that frozen moment of time, I’d love to give them a mirror and let them take a long, honest look at themselves. Are they perfect? Are they in the best shape of their lives? A good dose of reality does wonders!
We are an extremely judgmental society. It’s not something that will go away. But perhaps the next time that something pops into your head, you can take a second to let your filter kick in. Put yourself in that person’s shoes and instead of making those snap judgments and let your mental filter kick in!