Ever feel like the whole world is full of haters? I think we all have days that make us just want to hide in the house and stay away from all other people (and lets be honest the internet as well). And to be perfectly honest - when we aren’t feeling like someone is judging us we are probably judging someone else. I realize that more and more especially if I stop during the day and evaluate what I have been thinking. Without even realizing it I’m at it again – judging someone.
I think we judge others simply because it makes us feel better about ourselves. I think it is human nature to judge, unfortunately. And breaking that habit is very, very, very hard.
The actress Ashley Judd recently made headlines not for her new TV show but for her appearance while promoting that show. Judd’s face appeared significantly more puffy than it had in the past, and many people and media outlets rushed to judge and conjecture why she looked that way. To say that the people were mean and judgmental would be a vast understatement. The comments were cruel and derogatory.
Judd decided to address the storm of criticism directed at her appearance, and she did so in a op-ed piece in The Daily Beast. Here are some of my favorite parts from Judd’s article:
The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.
I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment? How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?
I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public.
As much as I liked Judd’s article I was equally impressed by Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure, who take on the controversy. I’ve written numerous times in the past in this blog how much I like Wells’ take on all things beauty, and she actually made me like her more after reading her June letter to the editor:
[Judd] humanized the issue of beauty criticism, saying that it not only hurts but also demeans and reduces us all to our least interesting, least powerful aspects.
She’s right. And when she asks, “What is the gloating about?” I might say, “How much time do you have?” Judd was talking about nasty comments she received for something she didn’t do, but I also object to the stigma attached when a woman decides – for her own reasons, which don’t necessarily include self-loathing or “internalized patriarchy” – that she would like to get Botox or wrinkle-filling injections or lipo or a face-lift. Those are perfectly legitimate options, too. And if Judd or any other woman chooses to undergo these treatments, there should be no shame in that. Being a natural beauty is excellent – and lucky. Attaching a moral judgement to a cosmetic treatment is as unfair and ridiculous as carping about someone who colors her hair. It wasn’t so long ago that women who wore lipstick or rouge were accused of moral turpitude. The argument hasn’t changed.
What can we learn from all of this? Perhaps to give ourselves and others a break. Try for one day or even one hour to judge less.
For a great blog post about how to deal with haters see Rae from Scatterbraintures post: Haters Can Cause Premature Aging – If You Let Them. Check it out for her great advice on how not to let haters bring you down.
Image from wilmu.edu