A Penny for your Thoughts: Truth and Shame

Truth and Shame. Some people believe they are speaking the truth, while others are made to feel shame.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt

The keyword in that quote to me is ‘consent’. This isn’t another post on consent, but it is a post on how one person’s truth can make another person feel shame. Here I plan to share things said to me and things to others that I have witnessed or have asked to share (kept anonymously throughout of course) about things said to them that have made them feel less than.

I’ll happily share mine openly because I tend to have quippy replies more often than not. Especially since I hear them repeatedly. Sure, some are meant as a joke, but I’ve come back with sarcasm because it gets old hearing them – as if I’m told repeatedly the same thing it will fix whatever is supposed to be wrong with me.

“If you put on some weight you won’t be cold all the time.” – This is said to me due to the frozen wasteland the office is. I wear three layers on top (tank top, dressy top, cardigan) and once the weather hits below 70 regularly socks and boots to keep warm. My reply could be anything from “I gained 25lbs since I moved back to Ohio, so now what’s your reasoning?” to “Or perhaps you could acclimate to the heat and stop killing the earth with air conditioning?”

“I hate that you can eat whatever you want and never gain weight.” – This is the one I started hearing when I hit 90lbs and didn’t gain weight until I was pregnant – which then I gained 27lbs that I promptly lost when my daughter was born. At the time, I didn’t have any come back remark, sarcastic comment, or anything. I was literally shamed for being skinny. Told to eat ice cream every single day until I put on a few pounds. Told to eat high calorie Italian food, a sandwich.

Yes, you can weight shame skinny people. Stop saying these things to them. It’s rude and hurtful.

“You’re so smart/pretty/funny/the best/whatever compliment here; why are you single?” – There are too many answers to recount here. My latest sarcastic reply is that I send them home to their mother when I get tired of picking up after them.

“We need to find a nice guy to take care of you.” – Usually follows the previous “compliment”. My latest reply is “I can take care of myself, thank you very much.” The major thing about this stupid ass question is that those asking don’t stop to ask if I might be a lesbian. I’m not, but they couldn’t possibly see anything other than a hetero relationship from the back and forth regarding this lovely topic.

“God! You’re so pale! Get some sun!” – Yes on the exclamation remarks. This one has been throughout my life. It’s still not funny. My usual quip is “yeah, wear sunglasses around me in sunshine or you’ll go blind.” My other one is “I am so sorry but I just reflect sunshine.” and sometimes it’s “I’ve tried, the sun and I agreed to disagree.”

“Hey you’ve got to try this [bleu] cheese. It’s delicious.” – No thank you should have been a good enough answer. I finally realize that telling them I’m allergic to penicillin and therefore moldy cheese as well would have killed the repetitive request to try it, but I feel like ‘no’ should be a final answer, especially when it’s followed or preceded by ‘thank you’.

I’ve witnessed shaming as well. I watched two people tell someone “I don’t see any vegetables on that plate.” First, it’s none of your business what someone else is eating unless it’s a baby. Second, unless you are that person’s physician, you have no right to speak to them about what they are eating. And yes, this person was severely affected by this stupid fucking comment that never needed to be said.

Someone so kindly shared about being insulted in front of the employee they manage regarding education by someone who is supposed to be their equal on the hierarchy.

Let’s stop insulting people about things altogether. Weight. Education. Skin. Gender. It’s rude.

Unfortunately, it seems even medical professionals need to curb their words. I was told that a doctor sneered and stated it was “better than sitting on the couch eating Twinkies” when a friend told them about joining a gym. Seriously, this person should be booted from the medical field. You’re supposed to be there to help and listen, not shame.

I have a friend who is active with their church and was told “[You are] seen up front enough” when they wanted to participate in a specific set of services. Soooo… the church needs people to participate, but doesn’t seem to want people to participate that want to participate? Yeah, I’m confused, too.

Sometimes, I feel like we are damned to be criticized. It doesn’t seem to matter which way we go down the path. We are shamed, ostracized, made to feel less than. What about you? How do you respond to those trying to make you feel unworthy? Do you laugh it off and then deal with the fallout of your emotions later? How would you respond to the things said above?

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote

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  1. Me? Justify, Justify, Justify! Some of the main things said to me were definately weight related. “You don’t really need another helping of macaroni and cheese do you?” This from my now ex-husband. “You’d be so pretty if you would just lose a little weight.” This from almost anyone that I knew. From high school to adulthood. I would just justify and sometimes even agree. Sometimes I would think that everyone was entitled to their opinions and then I would think that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t skinny enough. Having a model as a best friend didn’t help my body image issues. She rarely made me feel bad about it on purpose. Perhaps she would offer to lend me something to wear… pants that I couldn’t fit one leg into. It is still hard. I still try to justify, but I’m getting better.

    1. This irks the crap out of me. They either want to feed you and fatten you up like a suckling pig to roast or they want to make you skin and bones. Can’t people just leave others alone when it comes to food? Unless we reach out to someone and say hey, I need some help, then it’s no one’s business. Blech.

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