Don’t stop and stare.

It’s time to think out loud with Amanda – or step on the soap box in my case?! – again. Instead of sharing the latest Yogi wisdom or roommate stories with you there’s something else on my mind…

Thinking-Out-Loud

What’s the first thought you have when you see a very thin girl on the street or in a picture on a blog?

She clearly has an eating disorder.

Goodness, somebody feed her.

Or how about the thoughts when seeing a curvier woman?

Lazy couch potato.

She shouldn’t eat that burger and move more.

… and then people usually either stare, whisper to whomever is walking with them – or: spread rumors. Yet all of these points are assumption. This is what you can’t tell from a person’s appearance. If I wanted I could further to the many times I got wrong first impressions of people – non-ED-related –  who later became good friends. But in light of the fact there are whole forums dedicated solely to gossiping about [or at least that one huge I’m sure many of you have heard of before]. Analyzing their appearances, diets and whole lives. This as well as several bloggers’ posts adressing the topic of [presumed] EDs on their part – like this one by Katie – I felt like sharing my thoughts and experiences on the issue. Not because I’d personally been subject of any rumors or mean commentary lately – not for a good long while. Simply for the cause it’s an ever-occuring topic on- and offline.

When there is so much you’ll never know. Even I personally will admit I have these thoughts when I see an underweight person. That’s when I remind myself I don’t know her story. I don’t know if she actually has an ED. Just naming one example would be a friend of mine who’s still very skinny as a result of battling cancer. People who know won’t look or ask. But if outsiders saw her they might come to wrong conclusions.

Don’t stare at people who are on either end of the weight spectrum [or in non-weight-related ways different from the norm] – because chubby people have to deal with hurtful commentary as much as thin ones.  Stares, finger-pointing and gossiping behind the person’s back hurt – online as much as in real life. If you’re concerned about somebody: ask. Maybe offer help. Don’t spread rumors. Give them a chance to explain their story. Or if they don’t want to: accept it.

The weight of a person doesn’t open her mind to you. If you saw me right now you’d probaly have similar thoughts to those mentioned above, too. In fact, I’d assume I look similar to what I did when I started my blog. But my mindset has changed a lot since. And mindset plays at least as huge a role as weight. I’m not naive and saying weight didn’t matter in recovery – it does. But just because somebody is at what is considered a healthy weight doesn’t necessarily mean their mind was at the same stage of recovery. Just like – as mentioned – somebody being over- or underweight doesn’t automatically mean that person was [still or at any point] excessively over- or undereating.

Progress can be made or on its way even if somebody doesn’t look like it yet. Weight gain and recovery don’t happen overnight. Like I said: I’m not immune to the automatic assumptions, either. But I’m trying to keep in mind there’s so much more to a person her weight doesn’t tell and stares hurt.

Happiness inducing today: Having a surprisingly productive morning [for a night owl this is a big deal].

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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No questions today. Just whichever thoughts or experiences you have regarding the topic.

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25 thoughts on “Don’t stop and stare.

  1. Sarah says:

    Even if a person is thin because she is struggling with an active eating disorder that he/she is yet to begin the recovery process there is no reason to judge. It drive me crazy that if the person has cancer or another illness that is making them thin then those seem to be more “acceptable” reasons for the person to be underweight, where as an eating disorder is just looked at as vanity and choice and shameful and a status that comes with even more gossip. I wish we could have more compassion for people struggling with their health that affects physical appearance regardless of the reason. No one chooses an eating disorder any more than they choose cancer!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      I’m not sure I’d compare cancer and EDs as more or less “acceptable” reasons to be at a low weight. They’re way too different already in the fact one is more related to physical and the other to mental health. Either way, I agree with you it’s not right to judge somebody’s weight even if they’re not making an effort to recover or gain. Our opinion won’t change them.

  2. Little Miss Fit says:

    This is such a beautiful post and what a gentle reminder to never assume you know another person’s story, circumstances, or what it is they go through. We will never understand what another person faces or experiences or their particular situation, but that does NOT give us the right to make assumptions or guess. Especially so, we have no right to judge another. Thank you for this lovely reminder and for saying it in such a wonderful way.

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Thank you, Elise. It’s true we will never be able to fully look beyond the surface of any person we see. There are many hidden thoughts and experiences that lead all of us to where and who we are that outsiders don’t see.

  3. Amanda @ .running with spoons. says:

    I used to be a lot quicker to judge people, but I think that being on the receiving end of a lot of false accusations and judgments has made me a lot more understanding and less judgmental… so I guess I can say that I appreciate the experience for making me a better person overall. No one is ever in a position to judge another person or say something negative about them, because they don’t know what that person is going through. And even if they ARE doing something wrong or whatever, it’s a struggle and a journey and it doesn’t make them a bad person. People need to practice more kindness and compassion.

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      It was the same for me. Only through experiencing what those stares and remarks did to myself did I become more careful about my own habits there, too. Not a nice thing to go through but like you I’m thankful it has made me – hopefully at least – a kinder person.

  4. Ganeeban says:

    Love your post! I find myself making quick assumptions based on first impressions or looks and I have to catch myself. I also think with age (aka life experiences) you learn to curb this habit. I don’t think anyone can just be rid of of it, but they can definitely be mindful of it. Great posts for women (especially) of all ages. Empower one another, lets not put down one another! Glad I read your post when Amanda reposted on Twitter! xoxo, Ganeeban

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!
      It’s something I still need to remind myself of at times, too, because some judgement seems to be so deeply engrained that we aren’t even consciously doing it. While I obviously can’t speak from own experience yet I’d agree with you thinking we’re less judgemental as we age. The most hurtful comments and stares come from teenages. An age when we’re stil so uncomfortable in our own skin picking somebody else apart is a way of ‘dealing with it’. Albeit a really bad way.
      “Empower one another, lets not put down one another!” <- I like that.

  5. Aja says:

    The same can be said for the opposite end of the weight spectrum, and I hate when people associate being thin with an eating disorder and being overweight as a terrible thing. But people always go, “oh she looks anorexic” and it’s really hard not to punch them in the face. I’ve never judged people, though. Well, I can’t say never. When I was younger and stupid I probably did but I never thought a skinny girl had an eating disorder.

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Yes, like I said it’s sadly true for both ends of the spectrum. Neither being at a low or higher weight makes somebody a bad person. Weight doesn’t change a person’s character but as long we make assumptions based on pounds not personality we will miss a lot of chances of meeting people.
      I’ve definitely judged people more when I was younger, too. We make mistakes to learn frm them.

  6. Juli says:

    I am still guilty of judging like this from time to time but I always immediately scold myself for those unpleasent thoughts! When I was terribly sick and skinny and I really didn’t eat as a result of being sick I myself have been target of anorexia rumors. To my face and behind my back. Some were concerened friends and family which was okay but most of those judgig people were distant acquaintances. Or people I didn’t know. It hurt. Because it wasn’t concern but only gissip as it somehow ment it was MY fault. Everyone has a story and we know nothing about most people. So we really shouldn’t be all judgemental! Great post! And have a wonderful weekend!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      These rumors behind one’s back – that you inevitably find out about in anyway – are the worst. Sorry you had to deal with them, too. Especially with those people who didn’t actually know you judging. They sadly don’t realize they’re not helping at all by that but hurting others.
      It’s true we hardly know a thing about most people we see so yes, we should overall judge less.

  7. Laura says:

    Someone I work with posted a status the other day about having to go to court and seeing so many thin woman. She replied “I want to go get all of these skinny ass girls McDonalds”.
    I responded “don’t hate on different body types”.
    Only one person liked it. No one else responded.

    I am no longer afraid to stick up for people of any and all sizes. I’m tired of body judgement for any and all sizes. It’s the business of none other than the person whose body it is.

  8. Ashley says:

    I’m definitely guilty of judging people, but not necessarily in a negative way, like thinking a thin person is anorexic. My thoughts are more along the lines of “I wish I looked like her” when I see a thinner woman and I know that’s just as harmful, at least for me. We should appreciate ALL body types, even our own, instead of wanting to look like someone else or hating on them for looking a certain way.

  9. balmtomysoul says:

    Love this. We truly don’t know what others are working on or not. Being judgmental is so easy, yet really does nothing but hurt us and others. Thanks for a great post and great reminder! I love the carrot pic!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Judging from quick glances and first impressions really is way too easy and sometimes even happening unconsciously. And yes, the carrot picture: It’s not just true for success but goes for every quick impression we get. It’s only when ‘digging’ deeper that we see what others are actually like.

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