Four years ago I made a contemptuous comment on Twitter about a dude in a speedo. It was hi-lar-ious. I envisioned thousands of favourites and retweets and “OMG YES!” replies. And all the speedo-wearing die-hards would obviously read my tweet and be converted to the side of something more sensible and loose-fitting. I was a Twitter hero.
And then a friend of mine replied, “Body shame sucks.”
Seventeen characters to wake me up. I felt small. I had acted small.
When I decided to take a forever break from Christianity, I questioned my purpose. If I was no longer serving Jesus and the church–what was I doing? Walking away from that community was disorienting. I was immersed in the idea that without God, I had no moral compass. No reason to be good.
I needed a plan. My plan was love.
I would center myself in love. I would speak and act and raise my baby girl from love. Love would be my thesis statement. I would keep it in sight to remind me of the story I wanted my life to tell. This new purpose quieted the chaos of leaving the familiar. It helped me believe I was going to be okay. Maybe it helped my faith friends believe that, too.
When I wrote that speedo-shaming tweet, I forgot my thesis statement. I forgot that I want my words and actions to be rooted in love. I forgot that it’s harder to love when I’m busy judging.
My twenties were my judgiest years. I never called my husband the stereotypical pet names, because they sounded ridiculous. I made fun of women who squished up to their man in the cab of a truck, because it screamed submission and loss of identity. I didn’t wear pink or say panties, and I prided myself on not owning heels or makeup, because all things overtly feminine were weak.
On the flip side, I leave myself open to be judged. I almost always make my husband drive. I haven’t fed my kid a vegetable in over a week. Sometimes I toss entire containers of spoiled food because I’m too overwhelmed to recycle. I don’t walk my high-energy dog enough. I don’t change my sheets enough. I’m a terrible host. I’ve never finished reading a nonfiction book in my life. I own Crocs. I judge.
Those probably don’t even make the list of what’s said about me because there’s so much I don’t see about myself.
It’s taken me a long time to appreciate that we’re all layered weird and wonderful. I’m learning to focus on the wonderful and create safe spaces for the weird. I’m learning to acknowledge the fear beneath the jealousy and insecurity, pushing my judgment to the surface.
I’m not going to tell you I’m in love with speedos, but I don’t need to be. I know what it’s like to believe parts of me are better off hidden. And in case you don’t–it sucks. Why wish that on someone? So you go on with your bad penis-owning self. Bulge large and proud, my speedo-loving friend. And I’m going to go ahead and be inspired by your body pride.
As Mandy Stadtmiller of xoJane says, “I always say about this type of asshole dynamic: I get it. I know how to play it. But it is — so boring and obvious. It’s so much more interesting and daring to be supportive, loving, kind and earnest.”
I’m so weary of the ways we tear each other down. Weary of the ways our fear makes us mean. Especially when it’s veiled in humour and there’s a small group not laughing. A small group charged with making a better world while the rest of us get stuck in the asshole dynamic. But I am so thankful for that small group pulling me out of the mean.
Judging is easy. Loving is hard. Choose love with me?