So let’s just say in the last few weeks shaming has been at an all time high. I’m not sure why others take such liberties to tell you about how you should feel bad, but they do. I often wonder what do these people tell themselves when they look in the mirror or when someone corrects them about being who they are. How do they feel? Apparently not bad enough to stop doing it to others. In this week’s shaming story, it’s just me and this body that I am in, that I love but apparently someone felt I should not be so crazy about.
I was in my office minding my business, on this day my hair was wrapped up like a Nubian goddess, I had on a perfect floor length sundress, face was au natural, and my scent was a hint of coconut. I was feeling good, not just about my look but I was having a good day. Then I felt the room get dark and an evil presence enter who wanted to take my happiness away. I’m joking no evil presence just someone else who does not work in my office decided to tell us about the detox she was on. As I try to shy away and head to my office she notices. Excuse me, I wanted to tell you about the detox what’s going on with you?! Who me?! She then proceeds to question my head wrap and explain how a real lady does not wear that type of adornment outside of her home. She assumes that underneath my scarf my hair must be a mess and I should really take the time, just a few seconds and do something besides the scarf. She’s an older woman and I respect my elders so I respectfully nod at her suggestions. You would think it would have stopped there, but I guess because I didn’t completely lose it on her about the hair comment she thought she should continue. Next, apparently I need to detox because my face was super red and it was probably red because of the toxins in my body and not enough water. Again I just nod and try to respectfully move toward my office. 15 minutes later a discussion about how my spirituality was reflected in my look and I need to get right with God, I finally tell her to be blessed and to have a good day. Now I failed to mention earlier she wasn’t just having this conversation with me, but my other co-worker was present as well. Yeah, she was trying to shame me in front of someone else.
After she left, my co-worker asked why I hadn’t responded with a swift, you need to be checked demeanor. My response, I’m confident enough in myself to know that what her thoughts are, are not my own. Why would I take the time to explain that I’d been wearing my hair in a nice flat wrap waiting for it to dry before I removed my wrap, but that I was proud of myself for finally learning how to correctly tie the wrap up on my head ( I watched a billion YouTube videos), that I was in the midst of a rosacea flare up, that instead of covering it up with make-up I decided to let my skin breathe and for the first time in days my skin felt cool. Or why would I explain that me and Jesus are super cool, that we talk on a regular basis and all is well with my soul. I knew that she had already made up in her mind to judge what she didn’t know and she didn’t want to get to know. Why waste time and effort trying to get her to see beyond her own thoughts. And checking her would just feed into her already negative thoughts, so instead I just nod.
But what if I wasn’t confident in myself, what if I was at my breaking point and one more comment would have sent me over the edge? People don’t often think before they speak and sometimes they don’t realize that their helpful advice isn’t so helpful. For me I’ve been in love with who I am for a long time, but a lot of women I work with or speak with are just learning this, what damage is being done my others to take them off the path to self-love?!
I challenge each of us to not assume we know what a person has going on based on one glance and our opinion, but if you really care to get to know that person and if you don’t ZIP IT! Have you been shamed? How did you handle it?