Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get off the pedastal!

Oh, man, did I get humbled this weekend. It's serious confession time.

I've been thinking recently about how easy it is to judge, and how easy it is to get caught up in a sense of righteousness about our judgment.

Last weekend, I accompanied a friend to a (non-Bikram) yoga class at his gym. Before the class began, my friend and I walked around the gym, checking out the various torture devices available. I think we were near the pull-up/dip machine when our eyes both settled on this woman. She was probably about 60 years old, and she was gorgeous. Well, she was gorgeous in that annoying, Barbie-doll kind of way. Body of the 22-year-old that I never had and all that. My friend couldn't help noting her level of superficial hotness. 

I couldn't help from retorting, "Yeah, nice boob job. Plastic from head-to-toe!" 

I also couldn't stop myself from thinking of her on and off throughout the yoga class (of course, she was practicing right behind me). A sense of righteous indignation just took over. Who was she, that she had to invest what must be hours into looking good and cling to a certain body image even at age 60? What happened to aging gracefully? And why was my friend, who is typically not one to comment on a random woman's appearance, suddenly swayed by this Barbie? 

After the class, I took my time in the sauna, jacuzzi, and showering (hey, it was a nice gym!). The entire time--it must have been at least 40 minutes--the woman sat in front of the mirror, naked, blow-drying her hair. She was so front-and-center that I couldn't help noticing huge scars slashed across her breasts. I'd been right about the boob job. Initially, that didn't help my state of self-righteous, feminist-motivated indignation. The judgment continued to boil over. Why sacrifice so much time, energy, and pain to fight the natural aging process and conform to what is, for most, an unattainable standard of beauty? 

I did my own ten-minute hair-and-makeup process silently next to the woman, steaming in my own negative thoughts. But that's when I got knocked off my pedastal. As she wrapped her towel around her and began to walk out, she said, "Goodbye! Have a nice day." And there was something so... genuine about what she said. It wasn't forced. It wasn't obligatory. She just said it.

I felt so humbled. In judging this woman for the past two+ hours, I hadn't given a thought to what she might be like as a person, and she was probably very nice. Who cares if she spends her time and money dieting and putting on makeup and getting her boobs done? It has nothing to do with me. I could've spent that time thinking about practice, sharing the moment with my friend, and enjoying my morning at the swanky gym. I think that kind of self-righteous judgment is just another way of making ourselves the center of a very angry universe. 

Blergh... less judgment, more compassion. It's the endless struggle, right?      


lz said...

This post is so real--I applaud your openness. And it takes a certain awareness to think about our thought processes--the woman's words happened in such a short moment, moments that we all probably encounter once in a while, but it takes self-reflection and willingness to learn from these experiences.
Wonderful post.

keren said...

Beautiful post, so true!! It's such a defense mechanism of ours to constantly judge, but SO hard to let go of. I admire your openness and sincerity and thank you for the reminder - anything that can help raise our(my!)awareness, time and again, contributes to making a little more progress in the indeed "endless struggle".

ellelove7 said...

I'm the same way when it comes to implants. And it occurred to me one day checking out a woman's totally perky knockers, "that woman could have had a mastectomy and opted for implants." We never know the circumstances. :)

Lady J said...

Great post, E. I think a lot of us have these thoughts, I know I do. But it takes a brave soul to admit them so openly:)

Lush said...

A humbling experience indeed. It reminds us to be less judgmental and be more open-minded toward others and ourselves too sometimes. :)

Yolk E said...

Aw, thanks for the supportive responses, y'all. Ellelove, your comment is great--that's a good one to remember! :-) And I think you're right, Keren, that judgment is a defense mechanism, but we definitely take it too far and do so out of context.

Catherine said...

Wanna hear something funny?

I'd started reading, and had gotten through this — "I've been thinking recently about how easy it is to judge, and how easy it is to get caught up in a sense of righteousness about our judgment." — and liked it, because you are brilliant and I love everything you write.

Then I read "I accompanied a friend to a (non-Bikram) yoga class at his gym" and I instantly got all huffy and eyeroll-y about the inevitable inferiority of a gym yoga class.

And then, nearly immediately, I took a mental step back and simultaneously had to laugh at myself and be really embarrassed by myself.

Yolk E said...

Hahahaha, Catherine! Totally understandable.

I love that this has become the confessional. Confession and absolution for all! :-)

Charlane said...

it's official.. your blog is now my favorite. love the honesty