A friend of mine recently started experiencing a lot of success and positive attention in her career. She started doing really well, and began to realize some of the dreams she’s had for decades. But she also started seeing a lot more criticism for her weight, and found that that criticism had become nastier than before.
In addition to the increase in body shaming she received, she found that she was also feeling especially vulnerable to these negative comments. She found that things she might have easily shrugged off a few weeks ago were now hurting her deeply. She found herself frustrated both with herself and her peers. And she found herself yelling at herself for her hurt and her tears. It led her to ask me, “what is going on here?”
I think that as we get larger in the world and as we make a bigger impact, forces both within and without conspire to make us want to be smaller. I think this is true for two reasons:
- Many of us women have been taught all our lives to be smaller. Think about it. From the time of our birth, many of us girls were taught to fade into the background. We were taught to sit with our legs together with our handbag sharing the seat. We were taught not to brag, not to make too big of a deal of ourselves, and not to make too much noise. So I think, for many of us, as our lives become larger, we are triggered by a desire to make our bodies smaller. We feel so conspicuous and so exposed by the new attention in our lives, we want to shrink back down, curl up, and not expose our luscious bellies to the enemies.
- Dogs don’t bark at a parked car. And it’s not so surprising, really that our enemies head directly for our soft underbellies just as we start to see some success. Most of our enemies were taught the same thing we were taught. They were taught to be small and humble and inconspicuous. So what happens when they see somebody who starts to grow in stature and achieve many of the dreams they may have had for themselves? What happens when they see the car speeding away from them? They start chasing, and they start barking. And oh my goodness what a racket they make! When folks see somebody achieving something they wish the had the guts to go after, do you think they are introspective and use it as a life lesson to get themselves off their butts? Well some folks do. But most folks just run along side, nipping at the tires and yipping their fool heads off.
So my dear chicklettes, this week I’d like to talk about reduction. I want to talk about making our doubts smaller and our lives bigger and louder and even more amazing! Because I don’t want you to let the yipping dogs slow you down. Oh no. I want you to speed on ahead in your gorgeous, great big convertible and leave all those other dogs panting in the dust.
The Fat Chick
Very thoughtful post. I have always noticed that personal success is a quick test to see who your true friends are. Your true friends will smile and congratulate you on your achievement, but there will usually be someone standing off to the side with silence and those eyes of envy, plotting what they are going to say about you.
I am often embarrassed when asked about my success and certain things in my life. while I secretly like the fact that they asked about it, I am also a little scared to seem full of myself, not just for talking about it but just pursuing it, so I might try to downplay whatever it is and say things like “Meh it’s not a big deal,” so I definitely feel that pressure to be smaller.