I want to talk about something a little on the social commentary side of things today. Judgment.
As a shut-in, I avoid most judgment by not leaving my home. Large groups of people frighten me, send me spiraling into panic attacks. I get through conventions by only spending a couple hours down in the convention space, and the rest of the time? I’m hiding in my hotel room.
Why do I hide? Because I’m usually judged long before someone ever speaks to me and discovers I’m a talented, bright, smart individual with a good knowledge of my industry. I’m fat. And with that label comes a lot of assumptions: I’m lazy, I don’t eat right, I smell, I sweat a lot, I pass a lot of gas, I can’t breathe, etc. I am responsible 100% for my weight and am therefore a bad person because I am not thin. My self-esteem since I was 11 has taken a hell of a beating, and, yeah, I did blame myself for a good portion of my life.
But I shouldn’t have, and the people who were making judgments (including many of my doctors) based SOLELY on a number on the scale were wrong. They were being judgmental and cruel. Because they were thin, ‘healthy’, and I wasn’t, they felt a certain superiority over me. They were ‘right’ and ‘good’ while I was wrong and disgusting.
Quite frankly, I can’t afford to eat how I must to lose weight and keep it off. I have PCOS–and that disorder has caused me all sorts of physical and mental issues. I have a low-functioning thyroid. I have a sleep disorder. I have bipolar I. I have BPD. I have asthma (have since I was a kid). I have vitamin deficiencies. And, because I starved myself for 3/4 of my life in the hopes of being thin and good and accepted, I have one fucked up metabolism. XD The one and only time in my life I ever lost weight and kept it off was when I went low-carb. Like… I shopped only at health food stores so I could avoid temptation. But, the food budget per month when we ate like that (for just two people) was close to $2400. That’s a lot. And I know some people will say you don’t have to spend that much, but I did. Six small meals a day, all low-carb and fresh, with lean and alternative meats, it got expensive.
And yet, even doing all I could, exercising and eating right, I was still judged. I just wasn’t doing enough! After all, my GP kept insisting, I could have my stomach stapled.
Then, when K. moved in, she applied for EBT (‘food stamps’). K. words as a massage therapist, and the job doesn’t pay well when you aren’t booked consistently (and if people don’t tip–TIP YOUR MASSAGE THERAPIST, people!). In order to help with the finances in the household, she went on EBT. She qualified, and she’s been on it twice in the last two and a half years here (and before that, living on her own, she used Section 8 housing discounts and SNAP in Arizona). And what gets me is that, even though K. works her ass off in a physical job and then comes home to bust her ass doing SMP stuff and writing our fiction, she’s judged when using her EBT card. She drives a decent car (an older, used car, but it’s in very good condition), and she dresses respectfully, and her hair is wild colors. She’s ‘healthy’ looking. Why should she use EBT? She should pull herself up by her bootstraps and get off social welfare!
No. She should do what she needs to in order to feed herself. Just like anyone else on EBT. Here’s a hint: EBT? Doesn’t pay a whole hell of a lot, and there’s a lot of hoops and red tape to qualify. It means someone doesn’t make enough money to feed themselves or their family on their own, and that’s a blow all on its own to folks. They don’t need the person in line with them, their cashier, or anyone to judge them for asking for help when it was needed. For feeding themselves.
Our society seems to thrive on judging people. Who do they sleep with? How beautiful are they? How much do they weigh? What color is their skin? How much money do they make? What religion do they practice? Do they have higher education? A million inane questions that we use to determine someone’s worth without ever speaking to them, without learning about them. A million small assumptions we make to determine if we treat someone with respect or dignity that are all based on surface information.
How about we look deeper? How about we stop judging? How about we don’t ask, ‘Who cares what gender you are? How fat you are? How poor you are?’ to determine whether someone is worth anything and instead say, ‘You’re human, and you have worth because of that simple, basic fact’? Because life is full of shades of gray, of mottled colors and choices and decisions, and no one should be judged on one facet of their whole being.
So stop thinking the fat girl does nothing but shove Twinkies in her face. Stop thinking the person using an EBT card just doesn’t work hard enough. Stop thinking someone who loves someone of the same sex isn’t as human as the rest of the heterosexual world. Stop thinking a Christian is a bigot or a black person is a criminal. Stop judging people before you know them. I think it would really help to make the world a better place, and it might give back some of that self-worth and self-esteem so many have lost as the world had whittled it all away bit by bit with harsh, undeserved judgment.