The Unkindness of Strangers

Thursday, September 4, 2008

For the most part, it has been years since I said an unkind thing about someone behind their back - unless it was someone I generally despised, but that’s an entirely different issue.

I learned long ago that, before I opened my mouth, I should think to myself, “Now how does this issue affect me personally?” The answer is usually, “It doesn’t” - so I keep my mouth shut and go about my business. I have no interest in playing judge and jury to other people’s lifestyles.

If someone has an unflattering haircut, is wearing an odd choice of shoes, or is involved in a strange romantic relationship, I have nothing to say about that. It just doesn’t affect me or my life.

Unfortunately, most of the people I come in contact with don’t think like this. They are often judgmental, self-righteous and unkind – even though they are far from perfect themselves.

I bring this up because often the victims of this hateful gossiping are targeted solely because they are overweight. Never mind that the person in question might be the sweetest, smartest, most thoughtful person ever to walk the earth. It all means nothing if he or she is overweight.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondered if this is the sole reason we all struggle so hard to lose weight. For the approval of people we barely know and couldn’t care less about?

I started thinking that, for most of us, feeling you should lose weight is like cleaning your house when you’re expecting company – although we’re quite comfortable living this way, we are afraid others will disapprove and talk about us behind our backs.

Should we make ourselves miserable trying to conform to what the world thinks we should be, or should we learn instead to be comfortable with who we are – and screw what the miserable gossip mongers think?

Easier said than done, I know. The world’s perception of beauty isn’t likely to change in our lifetimes, but we can certainly all do our part by not shoveling the manure of hatred around.

The next time you’re tempted to engage in hurtful gossip, just ask yourself, “How does this affect ME?” You’ll probably find yourself talking a whole lot less.


Housewife Savant said...


I've still not parted from my computer for the dang brussel sprouts.