How to Unlearn Body Judgement
I grew up surrounded by an excessively judgmental family. If you gained weight, consider yourself shamed the moment you left a room. Having sex outside of a long term relationship or marriage meant you would be slut shamed on every phone call that didn’t involve you. If you showed any skin or pride in your body, you would be body and slut shamed too. People would also assume you’re an attention seeker. Judgement was everywhere, especially body judgement.
The women in my family are intense, and judgement is their second language. As I grew up, I learned that other girls and women were the same way or at least very similar. The girls in my school were always at war with each other.
Starting with a Story
In the 9th grade, I had my virginity stolen from me the weekend of my birthday. I had a “boyfriend” that wouldn’t take no for an answer, so he raped me. There was silence between us aside from the crying I tried to suppress. When I showed up at school that following Monday, my world was destroyed even more.
Kids laughed and mocked me. They knew, but the story they knew was wrong. I just went into my German class and prepared my announcements for the club meeting, because I was president. I had already been crying and had tears in my eyes since the following Friday, but I was doing my best to hold it together.
When everyone came into class, a girl sat at the desk directly in front of me with a giant smirk. Right as everyone, including the teacher was seated, she loudly proclaimed I had “fucked” my “boyfriend.” No one said a word, and I fought those tears so hard. I knew that no one would believe me.
I looked at her without blinking and told her if she didn’t mind her own business, I would fuck her boyfriend next. The teacher sat very still and let me read my announcements without acknowledging the exchange that took place in front of everyone. He tried asking if I was okay, because I waited to leave until everyone was gone. I clenched my jaw and nodded.
I was already bullied for not having a lot of money and for having curves. The body judgement I already faced went up a notch from that day forward. I tried confronting my “boyfriend” at the end of the day, but it ended a lot worse than I could have imagined.
I begged him to tell the truth. Instead, he laughed with a group of people surrounding him. He said we were done, and he was on to better things. I tried showing the bruises on my arms, and I tried speaking up. He just pushed me to the ground and walked away. Shocked and embarrassed, I stood up and walked the other direction while fighting back more tears, but I passed out before even leaving the bus ramp. I had been purging and early in my struggles with bulimia.
After a few minutes, I woke up. A handful of people, who were waiting on the last bus, asked if I was okay. I said I was fine and just really sick. So, I called my dad to come pick me up. I sobbed and broke down and told my mom what happened that weekend. She shamed me just like everyone else. It was a pain I can’t describe to this day.
Bitter Not Better
I was hardened from those few days of hell. I fought mean girls with every fiber of my being. If they wanted to be catty, I would go above and beyond to make them feel worse about themselves. Fighting bullies and standing up for yourself seems honorable, but I judged and fought them the same way they judged me, which was incredibly wrong.
I became this judgmental and angry woman. I thought all women were the enemy, so I wasn’t very nice when someone even attempted to put me down. Honestly, I hated myself even more than they probably did.
Dating my current husband, having kids, and learning to love my body changed me completely. I let go of the anger and judgement. Also, I stopped slut shaming and body shaming others who did it to me. My understanding grew, and I evolved into a better person. When I stopped with all judgement, I became better not bitter that time around.
Now, I cringe when I hear someone judge or shame another person. The fighting spirit is the only part of that angry little girl that remains, and I fight for what I believe in a much more positive way. I see absolutely no reason for body shaming or judgement, and I love who I am now because of that change.
I have made amends with my parents over that traumatizing day. Also, I have been working to get the women around me and in my family to understand their actions and judgement as well. I will always be an advocate.
How to Stop Body Judgement
It’s heart-wrenching that judging others has become second nature. It is never okay to judge, let alone even comment, on someone’s body, size, or how they decide to dress. But these things still all seem to be the norm.
Women who show skin are belittled or seen as attention seekers. Plus size bodies are described as promoting obesity. All shapes and sizes are body shamed and judged by society. Fatphobia is even embedded in our daily language, and you can read about common body shaming phrases in another post I did here.
One of the biggest lessons that I have ever learned is that you can’t fully commit to loving yourself and your body if you judge others and their bodies. You can’t have a positive body image if you constantly put out negativity and body judgement. They genuinely don’t mesh well together. You have to put good energy out there for it to come back to you.
It took time to stop with my judging, especially body judgement, because I was always judging my own body and putting it through hell with my ED. Once I figured out how to let go of the anger and judgement, I felt free. I took this new better version of myself and I cherished it, because I became an advocate for others and for bodies.
This blog, my body positive posts, and my book about body confidence were the final pieces of the puzzle I needed to add to my life. My growth didn’t just make me proud. It made me want to help others be more positive and learn to love themselves too. So, I want to share how you can stop judging others and their bodies.
1. Pay attention to what you say.
I didn’t just think to myself that I was a crappy person, so I should change. It took time for me to see I was in the wrong. So, I would try to catch myself every time I had a judgmental thought pop into my head whether it was about me and my body or someone else.
I made sure to pay attention and be aware when and why I was doing it. Whether someone was being mean or “started it,” I reminded myself it’s wrong and solves nothing. Being aware of those moments without being consumed in anger also helped me to reroute my thinking.
2. Break the pattern.
With my thoughts being rerouted, I was able to break the pattern. Instead of judgement, I would think of a compliment or something I admired about myself or the other person. I would replace the negativity with positivity, and even though it sounds cheesy, it helped.
Breaking that pattern also allowed me to be more compassionate and have empathy for others. Before I became hardened and angry, I had so much passion and understanding for the hardships of others. Breaking that pattern let me become that sweet girl again, so try rerouting those judgmental thoughts and words.
3. Think of yourself.
It’s also important to think how you would feel on the other end of that judgement. Being put down never feels good, and if the script was flipped, you would definitely feel some type of way. Whether it’s envy, hate, or some other negative reason you’re judging someone, there’s no way to completely understand each other’s life experiences.
We can’t feel the exact same way as another, so judgment is pointless. There’s no accomplishments or success with body judgment. If you take responsibility and go a step further and put yourself in another’s shoes, you can stop yourself from all of it.
Build Instead of Destroy
Body judgement will never build you up, because while it tears down others, it also weakens your foundation. You can never truly love your body if you judge other bodies. I had to stop being judgmental to fully learn to accept and embrace myself and my body.
We need to build each up. Trying to knock others down is counter productive and wrong. We need to build, grow, and love together, because that will make us stronger as individuals as well. I have never been so mentally strong in my life. I’m no stranger to mental health issues, and learning to let go and stop body judgement has made my mental health so much better.
When we stop body judgement, we are able to accept others. We are able to accept ourselves as well, and from acceptance grows love. I want to love myself and help others get to that point too, because we all deserve to feel happy and worthy in our bodies. We all deserve confidence, and that can happen if we accept that all bodies are beautiful just as they are.
Thanks so much for reading something that was intense, personal, and also hopefully a guide for others.
Have a good day!