Content warning for fatphobia.
It was springtime and I was worn down.
And, for the first time in a long time, feeling a jittery insecurity about myself.
You see, I’d been spending a lot of time with someone who’d fallen passionately in love with one of those specialized diets. And they’d gotten passionately mean about everyone else’s weight and eating habits. Sharing a takeout meal was “eating trash.” People we knew in common were “puffy” and “should change their diets.” Eating a pear was just as bad as cheesecake because “it’s all sugar.”
And after months upon months of this friend’s growing disdain for everyone’s eating habits, I’d started to internalize it. Started to see myself from their perspective. Puffy and sugar-obsessed and shabbily dressed and imperfect.
Walking around town, I felt everyone’s eyes on me, the heat of potential judgement, the discomfort of it like a too-tight shoe. I started to make myself smaller. I smiled less at strangers.
I could feel myself shrinking and I didn’t know what to do.
So, I called my therapist-turned-life-coach.
First, she asked if I thought this was coming from a place inside myself or if it was coming from Judgmental Friend. If it was JF’s voice in my head or my own.
The answer was JF. Because I like me. And inside my house, I wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable. It was outside that I saw every potential stranger as judge and jury.
So my life coach suggested a mantra. What if I walked down the street and told myself: they aren’t [insert name of friend].
They don’t think like JF. They don’t look at me like JF. They aren’t JF.
And then I took it a step further.
Because when I walk down the street, I find so many people beautiful. I look at them and think wow, that person is well put together. That person is beautiful. That person looks happy. What a smile. What eyes. What attitude.
Unless you are a creepy dude or a snot-covered baby, I’ve probably passed you on the street and thought you were lovely.
So instead of reminding myself that everyone on the street isn’t my Judgmental Friend, instead of asking “what if they don’t think like JF?”, I started to ask myself something else:
What if they think like me?
What if instead of judging me for running to the grocery store in sweatpants, they’re thinking “cute sweats?” What if instead of side-eyeing my pear, they’re thinking “mm, that looks good” or “she looks happy”?
What if they think like me?
It’s such a simple thing to ask that question, and yet it made such a big difference in the way I felt.
So today I offer up this little mantra in case you need it too.
And if you struggle to think kind things about people on the street or if you don’t really notice them and so the mantra doesn’t quite work, you can use me instead of you. What if they think like Gigi?
Because I’m sure if we passed in a cobbled Italian alley or a spacious Parisian park or a promenade on the Croatian cost, I’d think you’re fabulous.