** This is a rambling post. This following blog entry is akin to a diary entry as I figure out my emotions and thoughts in real time. I will share some deep personal and vulnerable feelings in this post. **
I’ve been thinking about worth today. It’s clear that many of us derive our sense of worth from our bodies.
You might feel that if you can maintain a certain body type, that you are worthy of… I don’t know, acknowledgement, praise, respect? And if you fail to keep to what’s defined culturally as the accepted body type, then the phrase ‘let herself go’ might come to mind.
So I started thinking. What’s my worth? Am I worthy? Because dear reader, I still find myself from time to time with the narrative of body derived worth in my life. I have a pot belly, and always have. And currently it’s gotten a bit bigger. More rolls, more bits sticking out when I’m wearing a tighter waist band. It hasn’t sent me into the old thinking patterns that I used to have with disordered eating. But it’s enough to have made me notice it, and to think about it more. How do I feel about this?
And it’s doesn’t take much to notice the fat-shaming and fat phobia around us.
I’m thinking – do women simply feel less worthy in general, because of the treatment women have gotten over the centuries, and we’re still bearing the brunt of that. Never good enough, can’t feel good enough and so women turn on themselves.
“This isn’t good enough! Why can’t I do better? I can never do better! Must try to be better.” It’s one tiny step to start dieting and control oneself in order to be ‘better’.
But should we be looking at worth at all? Maybe, maybe not. I’m just wondering.
Are we all worthy? What does that mean?
I think it takes a lot to say “I’m good enough” – and it shouldn’t. We are all born on this one planet, and why should some babies automatically be classed as not good enough, and others become the most worthy?
The narrative women have had to endure has been one of keeping small. Lowly. Don’t rise above your station. Bossy. Do we judge women who are super confident? Maybe we do. The bitchiness culture is real. Bringing other women down.
It takes a lot to claim that natural confidence you were born with. To stick out your tummy and soak up the rays of the sun without even questioning what other people think.
That’s a big part of this, isn’t it? What other people think. Women are annoyingly perceptive about other people’s feelings and thoughts. Sometimes that serves us well, maybe a protection mechanism. It can help others too – perhaps from an instinctual place within us. But more often than not, it might lead us to put others before ourselves when that isn’t really what we need to be doing.
So it seems we have biology, and machoism – and we also have religion. The virgin Mary, the male deities, the ‘he’ in all our language.
Is it any wonder women struggle with feeling worthy? And how the tiny thing they can control – their bodies, becomes this all out life-long mission. Whereas that’s the wrong place to find worth because it just hammers home the message of the patriarchy and all the other stuff, that we aren’t worthy until our bodies are a certain way.
It’s like being in a relationship with a narcissist, or an abuser. You try to make sure you are understanding, and you try to work out how to be so you don’t provoke them. You become the best at being in this relationship. You understand everything about this person and how they work. But really – you shouldn’t be in this relationship at all.
Isn’t that what it’s like to try and have a flat belly at the cost of understanding your true worth? It’s like you do everything you can to have a flat belly and a low number on the scale – but that’s all you’re doing is getting more wrapped up in a very bad relationship that you shouldn’t be in at all.
Can we step out of this? And can we claim our worth as a human being? That’s it, nothing more. It doesn’t have to be grandiose or show off-y. It can just be stepping into that feeling of ‘Yes, I’m enough.’
It’s sad that it takes bravery to do this. I feel for me, it will take me time to step back from my fear of what other people think. I certainly have a fear that if I were to totally own myself, and stick my belly out in the sun, I would feel that I’d be missing out on feedback that would show me my place in the world. “That’s vile, that’s disgusting” It’s like I go by those words and go “Oh right, thank you! Thanks for telling me where I should be!”
I am still working on this. And I admit – I have found it difficult to see women bigger than me wear jumpsuits that show off their rounded bellies and large soft arms. And I think, how can you have the confidence to wear that? What makes you so great, whilst I have to cover up in order not to offend anyone with my rolls? What gives you the right to step into the place that I fear?
And yet – there I am, judging. The same judgement I fear for myself. I struggle when I don’t know if this person is wearing these clothes as a ‘look at me’ statement. Like “look at how much I don’t care!” – but that would mean they do care as they are making a statement. Or are they JUST WEARING CLOTHES?!
If you are reading this and you just can’t understand where I come from, then I think you are a lucky one that has avoided caring too much what other people think. If you are reading this and can totally relate, then you might have been brought up the same way as me.
Not to be crass, not to be vile, but to be lady like. Respect other people more than you respect yourself. Don’t offend anyone, think about how they might be feeling so that you can take that into account when you get dressed. (And when you speak, and all the rest).
Jeez, no wonder I like staying indoors so much. It’s hard to care what other people think, and it’s hard not to care. I feel they both take energy out of me.
Perhaps all this boils down to simply being human. It’s hard to be human, crammed into a melting pot of lots of other humans with different expectations and understandings and ways of being. Sometimes we will be ourselves and that will bruise someone is some way. Should we care about that? Maybe sometimes we should and sometimes we shouldn’t.
I think we can use our perceptiveness to understand that the other person might be struggling with their own feelings of worth. I’ve had times when I have danced and someone close to me has said “You look really silly when you dance”. I love dancing, it is a wonderful thing and I love how it makes me feel. I still dance, but at the time that did hurt. But I also realized this person must have had someone tell them in their lives that they can’t look stupid enjoying themselves in public.
And this thread of ‘good behaviour’ goes on and on.
I think self-esteem is one of the most important things we should be teaching our children, but I don’t think we can make good teachers as many of us don’t have good self-esteem ourselves.
I believe that low self-esteem kills. It leads people to drug abuse, to violence, to ego battles, to winning at all costs, to suicide, to physical abuse – to dieting, and food control and self-hatred.
Self-esteem is accepting yourself, and understanding yourself and holding yourself with love. And I know I can do that – because I’ve learned how to have better self-esteem.
It needs more work though. I think worth is an interesting topic, but as soon as I think about worth – I can’t help but tie it into words associated with other people’s estimation on you. I think self-esteem is something so personal that only you can hold over yourself. No one else can judge your self-esteem, if that makes sense.
So are you worthy? Well – worthy of who, exactly?
I think I prefer to focus on self-esteem. When people judge me, or criticize or hurt – the most important thing I need to focus on at those times is myself. My relationship with myself, the words I use, and how to maintain and protect my self-esteem.
That inner place of kindness is what I think we need to focus on. So go out into the world, and see how you can come back to yourself time and time again. Enjoy the sun, wear that bikini, dance to the music. It’s not your place to change other people’s judgements or to rationalize with them – it’s your job to protect your self-esteem, make it strong, say good words to yourself, not them.
It’s not your place to be worthy for other people, this is your life and you need to be kind to yourself because you having high self-esteem is vital because you’ll know how to teach it to children. And let me tell you, that’s a life saver.
Having strong self-esteem will not mean you steam roller over other people, you’ll care – but that caring won’t take anything out of you to give to them. You’ll respect and understand, but your love and acceptance of yourself won’t change because it’s not tied into their estimation of you.
Can you let other people love themselves and accept themselves as they are? Perhaps that’s something to work on. All around you people are trying to figure themselves out and learn about themselves. Sometimes they’ll care about what you think – but you don’t have to play that game. You can let them be and work on living your life for you and to keep working on that all important relationship you have with yourself.
I know this was a rambling post – almost like a diary entry as I figure out my feeling as I go along. But I wanted to be open with you and share my own feelings about things at times, and I hope my workings out resonated with you.
Take care, and eat happy – Rebecca x