That was way harsh, Tara.
As I was walking to work from my car, I took notice of a woman walking ahead of me. She was wearing what I considered to be a very cute outfit, very stylish, yet the second thing I noticed, quite quickly, was the fact that her light-colored, close-fitting pants showed off the cellulite on the backs of her thighs. My first mental response? That's horrible.
I immediately tried to correct myself: "How dare you make a judgment on this woman's body? Who are you? The cellulite police? Get a grip! The backs of your legs would look just like that in those pants...which is also why you don't wear pants like that. Shut up, just shut up. She's confident in herself; you should be so lucky."
Yep, that's the actual conversation because it just took place, inside my head, a few minutes ago (from the time I'm typing this). I feel horrible just typing it out but, more important, it's a great example of the way I treat myself. The judgments I place on others are the same ones that I use to judge myself and yes, they're pretty harsh.
I grew up in a very judgmental environment. My father is extremely judgmental and I only ever remembering hearing about how lazy, unmotivated, unambitious and irresponsible fat people are; not only with regard to their bodies, but also in general.
This is not a woe-is-me, my parents are horrible people and they ruined me kind of post; they are flawed humans, just like me, and they did the best they could. These messages, though, certainly colored my perception of what it means to be fat and gave me a sociologically and culturally negative view of fat people.
If you've ever watched the television program The New Girl, you know that one of the main characters is Schmidt who was a fat kid/guy until after college; he lost a lot of weight and jokes that he's a "fat boy" trapped in the body of a newly-svelte man.
In a recent episode, he's recalling a time during his fat years when he was required to perform in front of a group and says:
This is exactly how I felt growing up and into adulthood; in order to avoid judgment/ridicule, everything must be done perfectly and my outward appearance (my presentation, my social status, my associations with others) must be as close to perfect as possible. It feels overwhelming at times, although the urgency, the necessity, has lightened over the years as I have learned to become aware of this trap.
Nevertheless, if I am ever to look more favorably upon others I must first learn to be much more kind to myself. That includes being kind throughout this process of self-discovery and recovery and remembering that it will take time and lots of practice.