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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Acceptance

We all do it.  How can we avoid it?  It's everywhere.  We judge.  We judge people on the way they look, on the way they act, on the clothes they wear, and even on the way they drive.  I'm not perfect.  I judge too.  When, however, does a simple passing judgment turn into something mean and cruel?  Where's the boundary?

I read a popular blog, and I probably shouldn't.  The girl who writes it always leaves me incensed.  Sometimes I'm upset because of how she views herself and how she thinks others view her.  Other times, I just feel she's a b**** (See?  I'm being judgmental!).  Still, I continue to read. 

Recently, she blogged about an experience she had, and, while her writing was quite good, there was one thing I couldn't get passed.  Her descriptions of the people she interacted with were horrible.  Those descriptions may have come from a genuine dislike of the people, but they were still awful.  They made me feel sorry for the people she was describing, and they made me angry towards her.  I took personal offense to the comments that were made, and I wanted to smack her.  The question I had to ask my self was why.  Why did her comments upset me so much?  Well, aside from the general lack of respect towards humanity, I'm sure it had something to do with my own past.

When I was a pre-teen puberty hit me hard.  My straight hair turned curly, my body developed a shape I certainly wasn't used to, I quit swimming, I developed acne, and I probably could have showered more than I did.  I also started at a new school, a small private school.  One would think that going to a smaller school would be easier, and in some ways it is, but it also limits the number of people who could potentially be your friend.

Middle school was hard.  I started out OK, but for some reason lost it somewhere in there.  Kids made fun of my acne, and tormented me for dandruff (which I still have no recollection of ever actually having).  That was bad enough, but what was worse was simply being ignored.  I was shunned from any social activities.  At my small school, we still had recess and I was simply barred from any of the games.  I'm still angry at the teachers who wouldn't allow you to read during recess.  Boys that I had crushes on would call to ask me out as a prank.  Apparently it was hilarious to them that I actually liked someone.  When I caught on, I learned to hang up, but it didn't stop them from laughing.  They simply made up my answers.  My mom tried to help by talking to the principal and to teachers who in turn talked to my class, but you can only imagine the damage that caused.  For three years I was in Hell. 

By the time high school started I had learned to lay low and avoid anything that could turn into a painful situation.  Girls at my high school were kinder, but I never truly found my place (other than being the teacher's pet).  I feared what people said about me behind my back, and I found myself on the offensive, trying to make that preemptive strike before I could get hurt.  I hid who I was and who I had been from everyone.  Even in college, I tried to keep things secret.  I still remember crying as I showed Hans a picture of myself from eighth grade.  He won me over by not laughing and by telling me I was beautiful.

Looking back now, I have no fondness for those days.  The only good thing that really came from it is that I found my solace in my dogs.  Had it not been for them, I would have been much lonelier, and I certainly would not be where I am today.  Anyway, I have to wonder why children treat each other so. 

Some of it is simply because children are mean.  They have to establish an order, and someone has to be on the bottom.  However, they learn these behaviors too.  They see these behaviors on TV and in their families, in books and on blogs.  As a society, we are taught that different is bad, that if someone doesn't match your way of thinking then they're wrong.  I was different.  I was socially awkward and having trouble coping with some big changes in my life, and the other children saw that and attacked.

The only way to change this is to change the way we act ourselves.  If we, as a society, are more accepting of others then so will our children be.  Acceptance is not something you can teach, but rather something you can show.  Telling your children how to behave is not the same as showing them.  The blog I read angered me because it did not teach a healthy way of living.  Sure, it may be how she felt, but why did she have to spread that?  So many people laughed at the poor women she described.  How can mocking someone be funny?  How can teasing someone, no matter what their flaws, be hilarious?

As I grow older I am finding that I am much more accepting of who I am, and in accepting myself I can accept others as well.  I pray for my children that they may live a life without ridicule, and that they may spare some poor child as well.  Instead of spreading this disease that most call "society's norm" I hope we can instead learn that the "norm" is to be different...very, very different.  Instead of teasing or mocking or ridiculing we can embrace, or at the very least simply avoid.

I don't expect everyone to get along all the time.  There are plenty of people I don't like, and I wouldn't want to be forced to be with them.  However, I encourage everyone to take some time before judging.  Get to know the person you are looking at.  If you don't like them, fine, but make sure it's for the right reasons and not simply because they're different or "odd."  Get to know someone, and love them for who they are.

13 comments:

  1. I completely and totally agree. I, too, read the post and was compelled to comment. I've read previous posts of hers and they've left me pissed off for multiple reasons: focusing on the physical instead of emotional/intellectual/self esteem issues, the continual name calling both of herself as well as of others, as well as the lack of real maturity in terms of any sort of depth.

    Anyway, I followed your comment to your blog and I just wanted to say I support your thoughts and words on this. I wish people would grow up and respect every person simply because, well, you know, they're people. Each and every one of us 6 billion Earthlings deserve dignity and respect. Something this individual in question has yet to come to terms with.

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  2. Hi Valerie,

    I searched and searched your page for an e-mail address so I could contact you, but can't find one, so I'm resorting to comments. :)

    I just want to thank you for your support on MY journey and I sincerely hope that you know that the thoughts expressed on one PFGs page, doesn't necessarily represent all of our thoughts.

    I'm really sorry that the mentioned post upset you - I hope you'll continue to read.

    Shoot me an e-mail: lindsay@priorfatgirl.com

    xo!
    Lindsay, a priorfatgirl

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  3. Thank you so much for your response. I really hope others understand how words change people. I am feeling the same sort of way about the blog. I keep going back and forth deciding whether I should read the posts and comments or just read the comments to find other blogs to read. Sorry those people hurt you! I can relate to that too from middle school. I did actually get called the girl with the light socket hair because straightening my hair didn't work out too well and I was asked out as a bet. Sorry if that's all too much information; I appreciate your honesty.

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  4. I'm sure you're a nice person and everything, but I think you went overboard with your response to Elle's blog. I don't even know her, but in reading her post, I did not get that vibe that she was mocking those women. Sometimes in life, things are just the way they are. We have our own perceptions of what is good, what is bad, what is ugly and what is beautiful.

    After reading about your background, the anger I think we all witnessed in your comments yesterday make so much more sense. I suspected there was more behind your bitter diatribe, and I guess now I know why.

    It does bother me when women call other women bitches though--it's just not classy, and personally, I think it's very paradoxical and hypocritical of you to personally attack another blogger like that.

    I'm also not trying to make this a personal attack, but my rant also has background, and I guess I feel the need to defend someone like Elle, because growing up (and even now), I've been the subject of cruelty and meanness by other girls for the complete opposite reason why you suffered through your adolescence.

    I hate that you had to go through that growing up, but I would hate to think that the bitterness from that can control a person into their adulthood and seep out to infect other innocent people.

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  5. What a beautiful and well written post and I couldn't agree with you more. I too have been turned off by this particular blogger, as I feel she doesn't represent the heart of soul of what first attracted me to this particular 'family.'

    I, too, was tormented and teased as a child, teenager and even as a young adult. I am now (in my 30's) learning to deal and cope with a lot of hurt and anger that I've kept hidden for so long as a result of years of being teased by people that just thought "they were being funny." I still carry vivid memories of being the only girl in my class not invited to someone's birthday party, and of being taunted for having a crush on a particular 'popular' senior quarterback, and not being asked to prom, and all my 'friends' having a New Year's Eve party that I wasn't invited to, but then receiving a phone call from them at midnight to laugh and torment me that the were celebrating New Year's together. Anyway, I think you have a very powerful message and I hope others can see that. Maybe it's time we all learn to truly treat others as we would like to be treated.

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  6. I bet you are offended by like, every single comedian that exists. Time for a thicker skin.

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  7. Wow. Just put two and two together tonight. I think I need to do some rereading. I do know that no one should have to grow up teased or ostracized.

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  8. Part of maturity and acceptance is knowing that everyone doesn't think like you and not relegating to insults (like bitch) when you come across someone that has a different way of communicating. Adolesence must have been horrible for you. Too bad you're still so maladjusted that you perceive everything to be a personal insult.

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  9. I've never commented on a blog before. But after reading the comments you made on this "blog" today, all I want to say is - IF YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT YOU READ, DON'T READ IT ANYMORE. Everyone and anyone is entitled to their own opinions and just because you don't like someones opinion you are going to bash them and call them a b*tch. Well you know what - I don't like YOUR opinon.. I'm sorry that you got made fun of because you were some awkward teenager, but take it out on those people, don't take it out on Elle because you're insecure.

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  10. I definitely feel like you've taken this thing way too far. You say that you were upset by the fact that you felt Elle was judging people, but then you go and judge her based on a blog post? Hypocrite, much? Even worse, you devoted an entire blog post to your judgment on her knowing full well that she's a blogger and very likely will read the hurtful things you have to say when these women she described have no idea about her blog and would never have to deal with being directly hurt like you have done. I am certain that were you in her shoes in that situation you would have thought a lot of the same things she though only she was willing to turn this awkward situation into a funny story. I don't believe her story was intended as an attack on these women, but rather as a lighthearted funny telling of an awkward situation she found herself in. In my opinion you would have had a lot of the same thoughts, as pretty much any human being would have. And for you to get on your high horse and act as if you've never had a bad thought about a person in your life is a lie...case in point, this blog post.

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  11. Teased or not, you're doing exactly what you're mad at Elle for! Hypocrite??
    I agree with anon above-- it sucks you were teased (honestly, who WASNT teased?? everyone left middle/high school feeling like they had been teased), but don't take it out on other people.
    If it's really still that big a problem for you, you should find a therapist.

    ReplyDelete
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