A long time ago, I wrote a blog post on one of my favourite body image “tricks.” My super-secret trick was, in short, to stop judging the bodies of other people. Here’s a 3-step guide to stop judging others.
What Makes This Trick so Effective?
Every single time you make a negative judgement of someone else for something, you re-affirm for yourself the fact that you live in a world where everyone judges each other all the time, and that you’re in constant danger of messing shit up without realizing it.
You also affirm that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to be a woman, to have a body, to dress, to look, to exist.
This is a shitty message to keep affirming for yourself, and the more you do it, the more paranoid and self-conscious you get about all the possible ways you could be doing things wrong. This habit is bad for confidence, peace of mind, and yes– body image.
Hence, the less you think judge-y thoughts about other people, the easier it is to relax and stop judging yourself. I mean, think about how you feel when someone you’re spending time with says something judgy about another woman.
If you’re like most people, you have two responses.
The first response is a little thrill of exclusivity because your friend has chosen you to confide her judgement in, thereby exempting you from the judgment. This means you’re momentarily safe. Also, being the judger instead of the judgee is like feeding your ego a cookie. It wakes up and gets all excited, like YEAH MOTHERFUCKER, I’M SPECIAL!
This feels good because being special brings with it a particular kind of pleasure. Unfortunately, the second response is often a bit more subtle, and a lot less pleasant.
The second response is a constriction, often felt in the form of an unpleasant emotion like disgust or anger. Have you ever noticed how judging someone brings up something not-very-nice inside us? That’s because the ego feeling special is always a zero-sum game: you can only be special if someone else isn’t, you can only be right if someone else is wrong.
Sometimes the thing that gets awakened when you’re being judge-y is the same nasty “ugh, ew” part of us from middle school, or sometimes it’s outrage disguised as concern, like “I just don’t understand why she doesn’t lose weight!”
Either way, you’ll usually feel an emotion that brings with it a tightness, an unpleasantness, or a defensiveness.
This is because you have just affirmed for yourself that everyone is constantly judging each other and that the world is a place of scarcity and competition, in which you must always be striving to be different and better in order to get your due. If you (an obviously good person) are so judgmental, then everyone else must be as well. Deep in your subconscious, this fact feels yucky.
Somewhere deep down you tighten your grip on making sure nobody can judge you. Something inside you resolves a little harder to be likeable, and reasonable, and to do everything RIGHT so that you can’t be the target of judgement.
I assure you, everyone does this. Judgement is the result of an evolutionary gift– thanks to our evolved brains, we get to decide for ourselves what we think about everything, which is cool! Because of this, however, humans are constantly coming up with stories about everything, as though it was our job to decide if every single moment is good, or bad, or right, or wrong. We want to categorize everything into either “I like this” or “I don’t like this.”
When it comes to body image and self-esteem, judging everything this way leads to nothing but fear, pain, and unhappiness.
But you probably know this already.