Friday, April 24, 2015

No argument here

Recently I've been in a couple of conflicts, with two unrelated people. In both cases, I came into the situation with a completely different perspective and recollection of what had happened to get us to the point of conflict.

Both were convinced I was in the wrong.  My views were "skewed." I was laying blame. I was being selfish, doing things only to make myself look good to others.

I disagreed with both. While I absolutely know I can be selfish, I truly didn't think I was in either case. While I do an awful lot to make myself look better, this comment had more to do with actions than a Sephora purchase. As for my views... I could have listed example after example in support.

My first inclination was to do just that. I wanted to rise to the argument, and defend my feelings, perspective, and actions. But I didn't.

Sue from a few years ago may have. She may have found herself in an all-out shouting match, making sure everyone understood exactly why she was right.

Present-day Sue just can't. I let that instinct settle, and then pass. Not just because I wanted to avoid the conflict, and not at all because I didn't want to stand up for myself. Definitely not because I thought I was wrong - it all came down to feelings, and I'm as entitled to mine as anyone.

I didn't argue because I honestly didn't see the point. Both people came at me prepared to fight. They were never going to back down. The louder I protested, the louder they would have argued. All that accomplishes is a bunch of yelling and no listening - which has never, ever solved a problem.

I guess I've come to realize that if someone doesn't care how you feel, simply speaking your mind more loudly isn't going to change theirs. It's not unlike raising your voice when speaking with someone who doesn't understand your language. You can repeat yourself as loudly and as often as you want - to them, you simply don't make sense.

So I never argued. I never defended myself. I let both people walk away thinking I'm selfish and awful and that I don't care. Which, is what they already thought anyway.

I'm not sure if that's me being selfish, lazy, or mature. You can decide for yourself - I won't argue.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Is thin privilege a thing?

I've been wanting to write about this for a while, but could never find the right words. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this post about "thin privilege" that seems to hit the proverbial nail right on the head.

For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm definitely a plus-size woman. Call it curvy, BBW, big, fat, thick... whatever. I'm not thin. I struggled with my weight for years. I was taught that I would never be pretty or worthy of love unless I was thin. People (who supposedly cared about me) went out of their way to make me feel bad about how I looked to motivate me into losing weight so I'd finally be good enough. The irony, of course, was that the worse I felt, the less I cared about losing weight. (Something to consider if you think fat-shaming is an effective motivational tool.)

Then, a few years ago, I came to this realization that, while losing weight might be good for my health, that was no reason for me to see myself as inferior to my thin friends. I am just as "worthy" of love as my skinny peers, and I made a decision that I was done feeling like anything less.

But I don't subscribe to the idea that being confident in myself requires me to tear down my size-zero-sisters. Every woman, no matter her size, shape, height, color, etc, should feel beautiful.

Still, I remember the first time I heard a thin woman take exception to a "body-positive" message, I was confused. Didn't they understand that "real women have curves" isn't intended as an insult towards them, but as empowerment towards plus-size women? Don't they realize that we need that empowerment because we're all trying to overcome a feeling of being something less?

It occurs to me that maybe they don't. If a woman has always been thin, she has no idea what it's like to have been made fun of in school, or turned down for dates, or unable to buy clothes that fit. She has no concept of how it feels to be discriminated against because of her size. Phrases like "skinny bitch,"  or "eat a sandwich," might sound harsh, but they are actually used to express envy. "Thunder thighs," and "beached whale," on the other hand, are absolute insults. People are generally not envious of bigger women.

No one questions why a woman is thin. If someone is too thin, people immediately (and genuinely) worry about her health. Overweight women are labeled as lazy and gross and shoved to the side. Ever notice how plus-size clothing is shoved into a corner, in the back of the department? That's not a coincidence. Fat is something we're taught to equate with shame. Being thin should make you proud.

I'll never think body-shaming in any form is OK. No one should be made to feel bad about herself. But if you're wondering how there could possibly be such a thing as "thin privilege," there it is. It's found in not having to excuse your appearance, or find "flattering" outfits (since you're already beautiful). It's not having to worry that your blind date will get up and leave when he sees you, or worrying that you can fit into the bridesmaid dress your friend chooses.

The privilege is in always knowing that you were good enough, and not needing empowerment in the first place.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My with yous

I like to think I am a good friend, with whom it is easy to get along. I do my best to be there for the people closest to me. I'll even be helpful to people not close to me, if I can. I rarely argue, mostly because most things are just not worth the effort. I'm pretty laid back, in that I don't really care what time we meet, what movie we see, who drives, where we eat, etc. Actually, I don't care about much. *shrug*

But on the rare occasion something does matter to me, I know I can become difficult. I over-think, over-analyze, and I worry - a lot. If I get disappointed, I get sad and maybe even a little down on myself. It never lasts long, and to be honest, it's improved. But it's definitely in those times when I know for sure who really cares for me.

This past weekend, my church wrapped up its series on relationships. The message was about how we are not created to go through life alone. At first I was like, "Really? This week?!" But then it improved. Pastor Mike Mills told us throughout life, we will meet three kinds of people.

For yous are people who encourage us to be our best, and stick around in good times. They celebrate victories, but are generally not there to support us through our trials.

Use yous are those people who are only around to support their own agenda.

With yous, though... with yous are the people worth having around. They are the people who will pick you up when you fall, and carry you until you can walk on your own. They cheer when you're happy, and cry when you're hurt. They want the best for you, and support your choices, even if they don't always agree.

When I am my normal agreeable, accommodating self, it's tough to tell the for yous from the with yous. When I'm doing for others, even the use yous get mixed in.

But when I'm broken and defeated and disappointed, and struggling to pull myself up again... that's when my with yous stand out.

I'm not at all sure what I did to deserve such amazing people in my life... but I'm sure glad I have them.