A few years ago, Sheila and I were at an art gallery opening when we saw a friend of hers who had lost a lot of weight. People were commenting on her new appearance and asking her what she was doing to lose the weight.
“Tell me me everything you’re doing,” one person said.
This woman fielded many similar questions before she ultimately succumbed to ovarian cancer.
We make assumptions every day. And nowhere is that more apparent than when it comes to someone’s appearance. I read a similar story of a personal trainer who was judging another trainer at his gym because the other trainer didn’t look fit. That coach was experiencing weight gain as a side affect of his chemotherapy.
Our culture is obsessed with weight.
No. Just, no.
There is merit to losing weight, as the process can be empowering and go a long way in promoting health and healthy habits. But making assumptions like the ones above only fuels the cultural obsession that skinny equals happy and overweight equals lazy.
I believe we can start changing the conversation.
Last night I went to see the movie "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" about Mr. Rogers. (Despite earlier claim about assumptions, I'm going to assume that you know who Mr. Rogers is...) One of the lines he most often repeated in his show was this:
I like you exactly as you are.
How powerful is that?
I see people everyday that believe they have to change who they are and what they look like in order to be loved. I see clients who don't feel that they deserve to lose weight, deserve to be happy, or deserve basic love and kindness.
What if everyone believed that they don't have to change themselves to deserve kindness?
I don't know what that would look like - but I certainly would like to find out.
I'm not saying that we don't have to work on ourselves. We absolutely need to take care of ourselves and challenge ourselves to grow physically, spiritually, and emotionally. What I am saying, is that we don't need to be someone different to experience kindness.
I know that many of us wake up in the morning, step out of the shower, and pinch some part of our body that we don't like. I'm not immune from this. You'll rarely catch me in shorts these days because I'm not too fond of my varicose veins. I'm guilty of not feeling that I deserve love or kindness either. But I'm working on it.
Let's shift the focus. Stop telling me what you need to lose, and tell me what you've gained. Tell me about your non-scale victories.
Tell me about the hike you took that you couldn't do last year.
Tell me the happy little moments you’ve experienced and they ways you celebrate your body. Tell me stories of who you are and the scars you've earned and the struggles you've used to make you the person you are today.
Tell me about you the person, not you the number.
Let's change the world through kindness.
I'm in this with you for the long haul.