We’ve all done it… seen someone walking down the street and thought… “What is he/she wearing?” “Wow she is pretty.” “She/He could stand to lose some weight.” …and perhaps sometimes worse. More often than not, if we are with someone at the time, we share our criticisms. In doing so we are reinforcing an appearance standard and a norm of what is socially acceptable.
A few years back I made a resolution to stop commenting on the appearance of others. I watched a powerful documentary on Netflix called Miss Representation that talks about the portrayal of women in the media. Throughout the film they interview a series of young girls. The girls talk throughout the movie about bullying and the power of comments regarding appearance. At the end of the movie there are suggestions on how to take steps towards ending a cycle of unrealistic and unhealthy standards of beauty. One of their suggestions is to stop commenting on appearances. After finishing the film I decided it was time to make a change.
The start of 2016 marks 2 years since I have made a negative comment about someone’s apperance. When I first decided to stop talking about others, I remember feeling nervous (which is sad) because I had several friendships where that was often the topic of conversation. I was worried as to how I would redirect conversation without making anyone uncomfortable. In reality it was easier that I thought. It took me a couple of weeks (maybe a month) to consciously stop myself from saying something that I was thinking. I learnt that very quickly my desire to comment about others went away. I found myself having more meaningful conversations with friends and colleagues and overall feeling more positive. I also found that eventually I stopped thinking negative things about others. Finally, I found myself thinking far less negative things about myself and my own apperance. As someone who has struggled with self esteem and appearance issues off and on throughout life, I cannot tell you how liberating that feels.
Recently someone close to me told me that they made a similar resolution. I can only hope that my choice inspired them to make that change. On a larger scale I hope this post might inspire you to do the same.