Let’s All Stop “Shoulding” on Each Other

If anyone reading this remembers The Twilight Zone as I do, you may recall the episode called “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” The premise was that, in the far distant future, at age 18 you could undergo what was called “the transformation” so that you could look like everyone else. There were two female models to choose from; you could either be the tall, willowy brunette, or the short, perky blonde. In this episode, one young girl does not wish to go through with it. She argues that she is fine just the way she is, and doesn’t want to change. Her doctor, mother and best friend try to convince her that it’s a good thing to look like everyone else, but the young girl isn’t buying it.

Of course, she is eventually coerced into the transformation. To her mother’s and best friend’s delight, the newly-tranformed girl comes bouncing out as another short perky blonde. She declares to her friend, “The best thing about it is that I look just like you!”

Although I’m happy that we don’t do this type of thing today, we nonetheless have issues with body image. Body image is a personal thing that has somehow become everyone’s business. If we don’t look like the gorgeous angels in fabulous underwear from <insert your favorite lingerie store name here>, we automatically feel bad about ourselves. And for what? We humans come in all sizes, shapes, and various states of health. We are who we are. We can be short or tall, thin or heavy, busty, hippy, have knock-knees, a big belly, a flat butt, long nose, buck teeth, peppered with freckles and so on. We come into this life in all our glorious colors and shapes, abilities and disabilities, gifts and talents, and we are all here for a reason.

Before I go further, let me get this statement out of the way: it is a good thing to be kind to our bodies, to treat them well, exercise them as we can, feed them food that nourishes and helps us be the best we can be, keep a positive attitude and to give ourselves and others a break for not looking “perfect.”

To those who diet religiously I say this: if what you’re doing works for you, then I am delighted for you. I sincerely wish you the best in all you do to stay fit and healthy. That said, PLEASE do not assume that your way is the only way. Unless any of us ask you specifically about your personal plan, please SHUT UP.

To those LBPs (Little Bitty People) who are in love with their tininess, God bless you. You are absolutely adorable and are just as cute as you can be. However, your cuteness wears thin when you highjack each and every conversation to make it all about your “itty-bittiness.” We really don’t need to hear that you wear a size 3 ring (“cuz my fingers are sooooo little!”), that you can fit into a kindergarten chair (because “I’m no bigger than a minute!”), or that your boyfriend/girlfriend can pick you up with one hand. And there is this, too–you’re kind of embarrassing yourself when your favorite topic is YOU. Don’t you think that maybe you could find some other topics to talk about that don’t involve, well–you? Just saying…

Fat-shaming and skinny-shaming are shameful. Why on earth would we deliberately go out of our way to chastise someone we don’t know? What possible business is it of ours? I recently read a blog written by a man who used to weigh over 400 lbs. Through dint of healthful eating, moderate exercise and a willing spirit, he lost almost half his body weight. His post about his transformation talked about the people who bullied him, embarrassed him, shamed him, slapped and punched him, made fun of him and mercilessly tortured him “for his own good” and to “make” him lose weight. His reply to that was simple and to the point: NONE of it helped him lose weight. What made him lose weight was his own desire to do so. No amount of shaming or bullying or harrassing or laughing at him motivated him to lose weight (well, surprise!). His own desire to be fit and healthy worked for him. He owes those people who did all those hateful things to him NOTHING and they share no success in his success. Why do people ever think they can motivate people by such negativity?

Why can’t we simply rejoice in all the wonderful diversity of humans on the earth? All cultures have their own standards of beauty, but does that mean that those who don’t meet those standards are less beautiful? We fall in love with each other for many reasons. Of course we are attracted to looks, but remember–the kind of person I find beautiful may not be your kind of beautiful. And so what? We get attracted to not just looks, but personalities, sense of humor, ideals, philosophies, points of view, mental/political/spiritual/emotional stands, and so much more. With all that fabulous diversity, why then would we want to stick to one standard of beauty? You may admire someone who constantly asserts his or her opinions on everything because they are versatile and interesting; I may find them a crashing bore. I may love being with someone who has a great sense of humor make me laugh; you may think that they are a big old attention hog.

The point is, let’s just look at each other for who we are, not who we feel we should be. I am just as guilty of this type of judgement as anyone else. Looking back over my life and recalling some of the truly ignorant and insensitive things I’ve said to people in the past, I could die of shame and regret. I wish with all my heart I could see each person I offended and beg their forgiveness. This is one of the main reasons for this blog–perhaps if I share some of the truly epic mistakes I’ve made in my life, then maybe just one person will learn not to do what I’ve done. It’s a waste of our precious time to try to talk someone into being someone other than who they are. We need to stop telling each other, “you should do this or that or the other thing.”

In fact, how about we all just stop “shoulding” on ourselves?




2 thoughts on “Let’s All Stop “Shoulding” on Each Other

  1. diane kirkup says:

    Dear Jane – thank you for this heart message which is such “truth”.
    What a more peaceful world we would have if we could only accept
    one another just as we are, with all our imperfections…the outside
    package not mattering so much, but reading one another from
    ‘the heart.

  2. lulujbf7 says:

    Thanks so much, Diane–I so appreciate your views!

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