Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mind Your Own Beeswax

Had a bit of an epiphany recently that has changed my world view. Frankly, I wish someone had told me this sooner -- or that I would have listened better when they did.

I was sitting at a reading by Jessica Weiner of her new book, "Do I Look Fat in This?" and a very brave audience member asked the following:

"I get up every morning and sometimes I hate myself and sometimes I don't. But what I really struggle with is the anxiety I feel when I think people are looking at my big butt or whatever. What should I do?"

And the very wise Ms. Weiner responded:

"Well, I'd like to talk about how you hate yourself sometimes, but here's what I think about other people's judgements and I suggest you use it: My body is none of your business."

A) How many times do I wish I had said that to people who thought I was entitled to their opinion of my appearance?

B) How many times should I have refrained from passing judgement on someone else's?

And most importantly, what bigger ideas in the world were there for me to ponder than A & B?

In the time I have spent either fretting about my weight or fretting about someone else's, I KNOW I could have earned a couple more Master's Degrees or maybe trained for the friggin' Olympics (Winter AND Summer!).

So "mind your own business" has become a bit of a mantra for me lately and it's powerful. Like Bill Clinton said, sometimes you just "don't have a dog in that fight." Was that Clinton? Anyway, sometimes you don't and it's just best to stay out of it. I mean, nobody likes the office "prairie dog" who's always popping up over your cubicle to offer an unwanted opinion. And unless they ask for it, your relatives don't want to hear from you either. It's been a major life lesson for me to learn that the world really does not need my opinion about everything. Go figure.

And something cool happens when you mind your own business -- you stop judging yourself so harshly. I mean, if the ground rules are that everybody minds their own business, you don't have to be self-conscious anymore and you can relax. Judgement becomes THEIR problem. THEY'RE the ones who are out of line. THEY are behaving badly and you have nothing to be embarassed about. Your ownership of yourself rests completely in your hands. Damn! That Jessica is on to something.

Here's a blog entry from Jessica during her book tour with a little more of her thinking.
This is my suggestion for a comeback line if you find someone telling you about your body - applying a label to you (whether thin, fat, ugly, pretty) if you do not wish to engage you can simply say "My body is none of your business". Of course with a comeback line like that you have to believe it is true and say it with conviction - but it really does sum it up - doesn't it. It really isn't any of our business to comment on race, sexuality, or appearance. The first two we are more aware of in this world (and def. should be!) but the latter is a hard one. Everyone thinks they can comment on another person's body. Perhaps because we see our bodies as fair game in the media, on reality tv shows, and in advertising. Perhaps because our families have commented on them ad nauseum and we don't have any good boundaries around us. But they are our bodies. And you must treat them with respect and demand that others do the same. We will never be able to control what others think, feel, or say about us. But we can control how we use our voice in those uncomfortable situations.

"My body is none of your business."

Enough said!


At 9:10 PM, Blogger Baby Chronicles said...

Hi Kelly

I'm so glad that you are back. I know that someone told you that he hoped that you were going to have some meat to your blog and well I have to tell you I think that what you have done with your last few blogs is far more "meatier" than when you were simply listing articles from the New York Times. I can buy the paper if you tell me there is a good article. I want to hear about you!!

I LOVE Jessica Weiner!!! her books are great.

I found the following blog when I was at a yarn shop back in December. I thought that you might enjoy reading her thoughts from time to time. Http:// I am doing a lot of knitting right now. It keeps me sane.

Love you

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I'd be interested to learn how successful this strategy is. I'd like to believe it works, but having lived in the real world all my life (starting with school, where kids are quick to make fun of anything not like themselves, to adulthood, when people like Conan O'Brien make millions by making fun of Kirstie Alley and Star Jones), I remain skeptical.

Actually, I'm less worried about middle-class people who will simply make a face when they see someone of whom they disapprove at the bank or at the office or at a restaurant or on an airplane than I am of the sub-human types who prowl the streets and public transportation looking to hurt other people in any way possible. (Ever had a subway car full of lowlifes decide to make you the subject of their abuse... and follow you through the train?)

Like I said, I remain hopeful. Keep me posted.


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