Different Dreams

I’ve spent this Thanksgiving with my Mom, which is a great reminder that I have the absolute best Mom every in the history of moms. She has always supported me in doing whatever I wanted to do.

When I gave up the opportunity to go to school for pre-law and decided to see if I wanted to be an orchestral clarinetist (the answer turned out to be no) my Mom didn’t even blink before supporting me.  Contrast this sharply with my friend’s moms, some of whom had actually refused to pay for my friend’s school unless they studied something of which the parents approved.  It happens reasonably often that parents have different dreams for their kids than the kids have for themselves.

The brilliant Virginia Sole-Smith from the Beauty Schooled Project sent me this article [trigger warning - weight loss talk] about a woman who was a very accomplished yogi who turned to a personal trainer to be thinner for her wedding.  I started processing through all of my feelings about this article, basically a lot of the feelings that I have whenever someone I know chooses weight loss.  I realized that what it boils down to, is that I have different dreams for these people than they have for themselves based on what I believe to be true.  And while it’s fine for me to ponder that in my head, it’s not my place to tell them that their dreams for themselves are wrong.

And I think that this is what happens a lot when people feel the need to tell me that I should lose weight, that my path to health is wrong, that my life be easier if I were thin, or whatever.  These people have different dreams for me than I have for myself because of what they believe.  And it’s ok for them to believe whatever and have those different dreams for me, but I’m not ok with them to unburdening their dreams on me – they either need to get on board and support my dreams, or learn to live with [silent] disappointment.

It turns out that dreams are like underpants – you are the boss of your own and nobody else’s.

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Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 6:59 am  Comments (7)  

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very well said!

  2. “It turns out that dreams are like underpants – you are the boss of your own and nobody else’s.”

    You are so awesome. :) <3

    • I’m going to share that quote, with full attribution, of course!

  3. I am learning the meaning of true friends and family who support me and believe in my dreams. It’s always hard to get excited about telling someone a dream you have only to find out they don’t think it’s realistic.

  4. It might be a wake up call for some people, when they butt in about a family member’s weight, to hear a response like this: “I understand where you’re coming from, but you have a different dream for me than I do for myself.” It might remind them that they’re dealing with an adult and should think about minding their own business.

    Years ago my family tried playing the “lose weight for your health” card with me–and believe it or not, I was only about 160 lbs., at 5’5″….it’s amazing how brainwashed into fat phobia people can be! Anyway,I think if I’d been less defensive and had just said something like the above, they might have taken a second look at their attitude–or at least shut up about the subject for a while.

  5. If I found an article about gay people needing to go to camps to get “cured” or if a friend or loved one told me they were planning to do this- or hell, even if I found out a random stranger was going to do this… I’m going to speak out against it because it’s something that’s happening specifically because of oppression and discrimination and so, yeah, I’m going to say that no one should be doing this, that it’s harmful, doesn’t work, and is based in bigotry- i’m going to say that they need to accept themselves and that these places need to be shut down. Now, I realize that weight loss isn’t exactly the same since it does work for the occasional person- but the human rights issue portion is still the same. So I can’t get behind the whole “if you want to participate in diet culture and contribute to fat hate go ahead- your choice!” thing. It *is* ultimately their choice.. but I certainly don’t have to condone it, agree with it, or stay quiet about it.

  6. Oh Ragen, you are so wise and sensible to take this approach when I was stomping around all mad at the anti-yoga lady last week. Yes, yes, of course — she is allowed to pick a workout solely because it makes her skinny just like we are allowed to pick our workouts because they promote health, make us stronger, happier, relieve stress, etc. And you are completely right that if we want that right respected, we need to respect the right of other people to choose differently from us.

    I fully admit that I have a wicked hard time with this — and I realized, over Thanksgiving, actually, that my “enjoy your food! eat for health not weight!” perspective was actually making it difficult for another family member to make their own different choices. This is someone I adore and who doesn’t try to make me feel bad about my choices — he just makes different choices for himself (and subscribes to them rather militantly at times, which can take the fun out of holiday food, but I digress…). I think I might have guilted him into eating a piece of sausage he didn’t really want (or did want but didn’t want to want…who can tell?). Whoops. I know how horrible I would have felt if the situation was reversed and I had not eaten the sausage because of someone else’s opinion.

    So thank you for this — I am newly resolved to be mindful of respecting others’ food/exercise/health choices across the spectrum here, regardless of whether they align with my own.

    Though I do wish the New York Times had printed another perspective alongside the anti-yoga lady’s musings, rather than letting her say things like “it didn’t make me skinny” as if that was A) the final word on what yoga does for the human body, period and B) the one and only reason anyone would ever exercise. Giving more context for these points wouldn’t have necessarily meant criticizing her choice — but it sure would have made for better journalism.


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