The World is Screwed Up, We Are Fine

enoughI had an absolutely fabulous time in Eugene at the University of Oregon.  One of the questions that I was asked at several of my talks was:  what do you say to people who are having a hard time with our cultural standards of beauty and the bullying that comes along with it?

My answer is that I think the first step is realizing that the world is screwed up, we are fine. This is not our fault, but it sometimes becomes our problem.  We get to decide how we deal with this.  I think that one of the most insidious issues is that we’re told to look all kinds of places and ask all kinds of people to find out if we are worthy, sexy, attractive etc.  I think that one way to address that is to start sorting out what is true from what is foisted upon us for someones else’s benefit.  For example, things that people incorrectly think we should use to determine our worth.  Here’s part of my list,  feel free to put your additions in the comments!

Things that do not determine my worth:

Whether Alex Rodriguez would date me

Whether I fit into a sample size gown

Whether I fit into anything

What people think about how long it takes me to finish a marathon

Whether someone, a group of people, a majority of people, or anyone wants to have sex with me

Whether or not I have health issues

How I choose to prioritize my health

What anybody thinks of how I live my life

What anybody thinks of me at all

We have to live in this world and deal with other people’s beliefs. I think that one thing that can really help us make decisions about how to do that is to take back what is ours. I believe that I am the only person who gets to determine how I feel about myself (I can take other people’s beliefs in account, but who and how much is entirely up to me.)  Many things improved in my life when I stopped believing that my worth, beauty, sexiness etc. were things that had to be assigned to me by others.

Some of this culture of  bullying and shaming is a desperate attempt by people to feel better about themselves by putting someone else down.  Some is about people with a grossly exaggerated sense of self-importance who actually believe that we should care what they think of us. Either way, we can take back what is ours to decide, and then work on dealing with the rest.

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Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 9:47 am  Comments (14)  

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have to admit, what you have that a lot of fat people do not is a great self image and lots of self confidence. If you’ve been fat since puberty, and you’ve been told ALL YOUR LIFE since then (and I’m in my 60s) that your worth depended on your weight, its difficult if not impossible to develop any kind of -what you have! And there are days that are very dark.

    • Self image can be changed and self confidence can be learned. Ragen’s has talked a lot about her efforts to retrain her brain (and not so incidentally been an inspiration in my efforts to retrain mine) and how she started from a place of having a similar sense of self worth to what you’re describing. Check out http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/seeing-my-body-as-separate/ and the other blogs she links from there.

      If you choose to change your mental dialogue, you can, though it likely won’t be easy or quick.

    • No matter who you are, no matter how well you conform to general standards of what is considered beautiful and worthy in your culture, at some point you are not going to fit in. In some way you will be considered ‘less than.’ It doesn’t matter whether the way you stand out is your waistline, your taste in music, your physical prowess at a popular activity, your food preferences, the color of your skin, or a health issue. At some point, you will need to find the inner resources to deal with the fact that you don’t fit the accepted mold, and you need to find ways to look yourself in the mirror anyway.

      It takes time, practice, and determination to change your inner script from one of shame and fear to one of self-celebration. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you will stumble along the way.

      But you know what? It’s worth every single struggle, every fall, every misstep along the way. You are worth it, half-moon mollie.

      What’s more, you are far from alone on this journey. The rest of us are here with you every step of the way, cheering you on. So draw on us when you need to. We’ll be here.

      • what twistie said

    • I am also in my 60’s & have lived most of my life with very abusive people who constantly told me that everything was wrong with me & nagged me about the size of my body. However, I have also been working on fat acceptance & self-esteem for 34 years now. It is not easy, no one feels 100% confident all the time, but it is possible at any age to learn to love yourself & your body, feel comfortable with who you are, & stand up to a culture which is built on making everyone feel wrong & inadequate.

      Good luck to you.

  2. My worth is not determined by numbers – anywhere, ever. Not on a scale, not on a clothing tag, not my blood pressure or blood sugar readings, not my FB friend count, not my income or “net worth”, not the carats of my jewelry, not the pounds I can lift nor miles I can walk, not my age.

    Some numbers have information that I get to decide how to use; some numbers are just bullshit; no numbers ever are a measure of my value as a human being.

    • my point exactly. You were taught that, or you learned it somewhere. And no doubt it’s a hard won lesson.

    • I love this!

    • Thanks for this. I’ve learned not to worry about the scale or clothing sizes, etc. but did get a bit worked up this week over blood sugar. Changing diabetes meds so needed to start testing frequently and was disappointed. Had to remind myself that the reason for testing was to get things fine tuned AND that I’m a lovely person no matter how “sweet” I happen to be at the moment.

  3. Hey I was finally able to watch America The Beautiful 2 on Netflix. You were amazing!

  4. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    I really wish I was able to develop even half your self confidence. I have hated myself my entire life, and right now I am going through a reasonably severe depressive phase. (For those who are either new to me or have been living in a cave, I have type II bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and OCD.)
    I can fight the urge to call myself ugly names, but actually seeing myself as likable or worthwhile is another story entirely.

    • There are times when simply not hating yourself as much as others do is a victory in itself. Been there, done that, worn the tee shirt to freaking threads.

      It may not be where you want to get to, but I think pretty much all of us spend some time there.

      And for what it’s worth, I think you’re pretty darn amazing. So there.

  5. Yesterday ended up being a day off for me. I spent part of it enjoying a movie on netflix. I watched In and Out. I have to say, I totally loved, LOVED the bride’s tirade after being told her fiance was gay at teh alter. She really hit on the head how so many women look to men for affirmation, how they change what they do and how they eat to become a different version of themselves. When she’s standing outside the tavern in the street screaming for people to stop and marry her, I had a flash back of my own mental state when I was alone as a single parent. The next and probably the best part was when the young actor (who’d had a crush on her when she was a student teacher) gets out of his car and asks… “what happened to you?”.. meaning… why have you lost weight?.. He adored her as she was and seemed dumbfounded that she’d changed herself.

    We all need a few people in our lives like that young man… someone who will say to us… ‘what happened?’ Why are you trying to change yourself?

  6. Regan, thank you so much for coming and speaking at UO! Even though I’ve read most of what you discussed in your blog, it was nice to hear the words out loud and in a postiive space. You rock!


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