I feel like I need to preface this post with a note: I’m speaking about scenarios involving flash judgments. Instances where you see a snapshot of someone’s life, you assume you know what’s going on and you pass judgment without any attempt to understand or relate. I am not in any way saying that people who are important in your life can’t bring up legitimate concerns with an open mind in an understanding, empathetic and supportive way. With that said, let’s proceed…
It’s no secret that we are our own harshest critics. And when we have painstakingly figured something out (through utter failure, through research, through trial and error) and it seems like someone is questioning us, we get defensive, “Back off! I already put myself through the ringer and came out the other side. You know nothing!” And it’s good for us to stand up for ourselves that way. I know I speak often from a mom’s perspective, but the same goes for everyone. In this specific case, though, I relate it to women, and here’s why:
Society feels a right to voice an opinion on every single little thing a women does (or does not do), even if they know nothing of the circumstances.
This can be as trivial as a woman wearing no makeup (maybe it irritates her skin), or wearing too much makeup (maybe she struggles with a skin condition), but the list goes on.
She’s wearing too much clothing (it’s like she’s hiding), too little clothing (doesn’t she have any self respect?). She’s letting her kid cry out a tantrum (can’t she keep her kid under control?), making a tantrum stop in its tracks by giving in (that’s going to be one spoiled kid, don’t you know never to give in to a tantrum?) . She’s using online dating (how desperate!), she’s choosing not to date (is she a lesbian? A man hater?). She’s too fit (too many muscles aren’t sexy on a woman), she’s too big (she obviously doesn’t care about her health). She’s wearing her baby (can the baby even breathe in there?), she’s pushing her infant in a stroller (you’re going to give the baby separation anxiety). She’s too bossy (chill out, what a bitch!), she’s too passive (no wonder she gets taken advantage of, it’s like she’s asking for it). She had an abortion (how irresponsible of her- nevermind it takes two to make a baby), she’s raising a kid on her own and she’s low income (how can you bring a kid into this world if you can’t provide for them).
These judgments are passed, sometimes silently, sometimes obnoxiously subtly, and sometimes outwardly, even if “the judge” has never experienced something like it themselves. Even if they’re only seeing a snapshot of her life, and not the whole album. I hope you stand strong in the face of this criticism.
We need fiery passionate women who know their own worth, and the worth of their heavily weighed choices. We need them to stand up and say “You have no right to criticize if you have not been through what I’ve been through, read what I’ve read, and agonized over what I’ve agonized over.” My body, my personal life, is not a democracy. I decide how I look. I decide what I choose to do with my life. I decide my own set of values and opinions. Just like you do.
I know I’m not perfect, none of us is. I still find thoughts like this creeping into my mind on occasion. I try to remember that all I know of this person is a drop in the ocean- a single star in the entire universe- not a fair representation of their life experiences that led them to where they are today. In these moments, now, I take the time to recognize the judgmental thought that just passed, and then I say to myself, “I know nothing”.
Next time you find yourself passing judgment, try it out. “I know nothing”.
And if someone else has the audacity to pass judgment on your snapshot, “You know nothing”.
Take care of yourself and each other,