A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of receiving a passive aggressive rant (from a stranger) about women with nose rings, showing bra straps, and toss in a line or two about tattoos.
And like passive aggressive rants always are – this rant – was not about ME, per se, but about women who have nose rings and also show bra straps, and tattoos. So basically, a rant that’s not about me, that describes women just like me – but who, of course, are not me.
Now that we’re all crystal clear about how passive aggressive rants work – this was a passive aggressive rant at it’s finest. The rant in and of itself, is of little importance. You probably already get the gist. Don’t show up to work with nose rings, and bras and tattoos and boobs and frolic around being all different and stuff.
Sure, I’ll buy into a little bit of the workplace dress code thing, kinda – but that’s as far as I’ll go.
I’ve actually been out right yelled at by a stranger (an old white man) in Wal-Mart about my nose ring. I’m too beautiful for a nose ring, apparently…and I ruined my face. Yep! He said that. And also, he was yelling. It was somewhat surreal to say the least.
I realize seeing my bra straps might be offensive to some. So let’s not even consider the alternative. Holy shit, what if I didn’t wear a bra at all? THAT would be worse, right?
Keep these girls all tucked away and do everything I can to NOT draw attention to the fact that I have boobs at all. Because holy hell, what’s so frightening about boobs? Why must we hide them away and be all offended by them?
God forbid you have big boobs like me. The absolute horror of growing up with big boobs. That’s a writing in and of itself.
But god forbid the most that you have augmented boobs. You are clearly a harlot of the worst kind. You deliberately big breasted she-devil.
Don’t bring those distracting sin bags to the workplace unless they are sufficiently covered to the point of non-existence. Or they will judge you – and they will judge you swift and harsh.
They will deem you a silly, silly girl with no real thoughts or ideas. And then when you assert your thoughts and ideas, they will call you a BITCH. They will crucify you. Oh those damn boobs of yours.
Deep breath. Mini-rant about boobs aside, it’s what’s beneath the rant that I want to talk about. Because I don’t really care who does or doesn’t like my nose ring. Or who is or is not appalled by my boobs and bra straps.
Because it’s NEVER – let me repeat NEVER – really about what a person is judging you for.
It’s always something in them that needs their attention.
We’re driven by shame to conform. Because we live in a world where we propagate sameness and we talk behind the backs of the non-conforming. And sometimes (but much less frequently) we say it straight to their face. We do our best as a society to shame people into conformity. And for what?
Here it is:
Because our own desires to be seen and heard aren’t being met. We’re still trapped inside the expectations of everyone else. And it hurts.
From the moment we’re born there is a whole line of institutions showing us exactly how to conform. How to be what everyone around us wants us to be.
We accept the rules of our families.
Of our education system.
We accept the God of our family’s religion.
We accept the person we are told to be.
And with all the right conditioning, we conform.
We become much like all those that came before us. And often times, we don’t even question it. We accept their judgements, until they are our own. And we go ahead and judge ourselves based upon ‘their’ expectations. And then we move on and judge others by those same standards. And somewhere in there, we have kids of our own…and we do it all over again. We pass it all down. The cycle continues.
I’ve been a victim of it. And I’ve also been a propagator of it.
Anytime I’m involved in one of these types of confrontations, while on the surface, I do find them somewhat humorous, I also detect a twinge of shame beneath the surface. Even if just for a moment, I feel the desire to conform – at least in the presence of those who don’t approve of my Me-ness.
And this is the problem – we perpetuate a reward for conformance and a punishment for being different. Because really, we all want love and acceptance. And the things we’re willing to do to get that end up changing who we are.
I’ve spent a good amount of my life twisting myself up into what I thought I was supposed to be – what I knew everyone else wanted me to be. And let me tell you that as soon as I stepped outside of what other people thought I should be, when I vered from the status quo, I always knew it. I felt the shame. Let the opinions flow. Even from strangers.
But also, that’s where the freedom lies.
So who are we then? Where is the real YOU? This is the whole point. In my opinion, it’s nothing else. We’re here to remember and to stand firmly in who we are while offering love and acceptance, understanding and compassion, to everyone else on their journey of remembrance and reunion with who they really are.
Who are you outside of what everyone else has taught you to be? How can you find that person again?
Next time you find yourself with a little case of the judgies, ask yourself this:
“What is it about myself that I’m seeing here? What parts of me are still unexpressed to the point that I need to judge someone?
Because it’s never about the person being shamed or judged. It’s always about the person doing the shaming.
In asking yourself these kinds of questions, you’ll know yourself better. You’ll progress on your own journey home to yourself. And that’s liberation.
So I’m gonna keep on wearing my nose ring, even though I “ruined my face.” And I’m gonna keep on wearing my off the shoulder shirts that show my bra straps, even though my boobs may be viewed by some as evil temptresses.
Because none of those things define me. And if someone else needs them to, then that’s not about me at all. I’ll just be over here standing in my own power as a woman, an individual, a mother, a writer, a lover – and the many other things that make me, ME.
And if that offends someone, I’d like offer that perhaps they spend a little more time trying to be 100% who they really are…at which point my nose ring and bra straps will become – absolutely irrelevant.
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