It's a game we all play: making snap judgments about what people are like based upon their appearance. Smart, stupid; sophisticated, simple; preppie, yuppie, hippie, druggie, all the various and sundry "ies"; the way they dress, the way they wear their hair, the way they carry themselves, the way they speak all give us clues as to what combination of qualities they possess.
But sometimes we get it wrong.
I've been wondering a lot lately how often I get it wrong, because I've been acutely aware of how different my inner self is from the outer shell to which the world has quick visual access. I present, I know, as a frumpy, significantly overweight, middle-aged woman. This is so distant from who I feel like on the inside! Yet it's how all strangers and many acquaintances see me. How could they not? There it is.
And yet, inside I feel bohemian and artistic. I feel earthy and worldly at the same time. Inside, when I work out, I get results. Inside, I'm a good mom who always knows what to say. Inside, I am a world traveler and a patron of the arts. I wear clothes that express these things. They look good on me. I don't so much mind the age that I am - every age can be beautiful. Inside.
Outside is another story. First of all, society in general makes a very quick judgment when it sees someone who is overweight, and that judgment is: worthless. Usually followed by, if it's even given a second thought: lazy, sloppy, hedonistic, stupid, the list goes on. This is not paranoia, either. People would rather die than be fat. We see this through the epidemic level incidences of anorexia and bulimia vexing not only our young women, but people of both genders and all age groups. We see this through multi-million dollar businesses that promise to get (or keep) us thin. We see this through the rise in weight loss surgeries. We see this. My comic heroine, Gilda Radner, once, in her Rhonda Weiss persona, rather prophetically stated, "It's a proven fact that most guys prefer skinny girls with cancer to healthy girls with bulging thighs".
So let's say you're very evolved and you get past the fact that I don't wear a size 6 (or 8. or 10). You're still not likely to see all that other inside stuff. (Which, I'll admit, sounds pretty wonderful - maybe I need to take a moment to get over myself...). Travel and the pursuit of the arts was put on hold (I refuse to say abandoned) in the interest of raising a family. No regrets there. I can get back to it. The Greek Islands aren't going anywhere. And I'm a decent enough mom. I make mistakes, like we all do, and I apologize for them and move on. As for appearance OTHER than the weight issue... I suppose that's the one thing I could work on. There aren't a lot of clothes out there in my style, size and (probably most important) price range. (add work to travel and the arts as things I put on hold to raise a family) But I bet if I worked hard enough and made it a priority and perhaps dusted off my sewing machine, I could pull some things together.
So, my resolution is to try to stop judging others on superficial qualities. Maybe in so doing, I can learn to be a little kinder to myself.