Years ago, I stood on the corner, waiting for my friend. I was early, and I wanted to people watch. As I stood there, an obviously homeless man walked up to me. “Can I ask you a question?”, he said. I prepared to be asked for money. I nodded.
“Why is it ok to be ugly, but it’s not ok to talk about how ugly someone is?”, he queried. In a stunned voice I answered that I had no idea and moved away from him.
Immediately, I internalized the interaction as body shaming. Did he mean that I was ugly? Why did he target me to ask? Did he mean ugly, or did he mean fat? Was my skin ok or had I broken out? What was wrong with me that he honed in on? And really, all these questions were:
How could I protect myself so it never happened again?
It’s a form of violence. It is not ok. And that’s the answer to this gentlemen.
When we judge or shame ourselves or others, it is a form of violence.
So, now my job as a parent is to help my daughter understand that society will attempt to control us by building ways to shame us, make us feel not good enough and unlovable. We have talked about how puberty has made her feel vulnerable in her body. I have told her she needs to know her value and that it is completely apart from anyone or anything outside of herself.
Violence from external sources is unpredictable. Violence within yourself is within your control. You are a perfect manifestation of the Divine.