There are many times in life when you have that “Eureka” moment. For the most part I’d hope they are good moments; like realizing you’ve left a $10 bill in your winter coat and finding it the next year or finding another yogurt in the fridge when you thought you were out. Sometimes though, you can have one of those moments of insight and it can really make you cringe.
I just had one of those moments today when I read this older post from The F-word; and let me tell you that it is still making my head spin. Because after reading the post and the comments about poverty and food stamps and trying to stay “healthy” while feeding yourself and others on a limited budget, I realized that I have been (even if only in my head) very judgmental regarding others’ choices. And that little “Eureka” moment was me suddenly taking off those rosy-colored and extremely privileged glasses and acknowledging that I too was behaving no better than those who would seek to make snap judgments on fat people simply based on appearances every time that I even mentally scoffed at someone buying processed food stuffs on a limited or food stamp budget.
My bias has been to assume that people choose the foods they do either because they are too lazy to make it themselves or because they don’t know any better. Wow. And to think it took a post to realize this was a huge bias. Even typing it out is making me cringe. So I have been trying to analyze this bias. Not to rationalize it but more as a means of finding out where it is coming from and figuring out how to move beyond it.
Growing up I lived with my single working mother, my brother and my grandmother. By the age of 8 I was helping my grandmother make perrogies in the kitchen in the early morning and washing our laundry in the afternoon. While never a latch-key kid since grandma was always there I guess you could say we were the next closest thing. Since my mom worked 11-14 hour days most times to ensure we had food on the table and clothes on our back it was often up to the rest of us to think up and create meals. Part of my bias, therefore, comes from a life-long upbringing of learning and loving the entire process of preparing and cooking food. It was a time to be crafty and inventive and do something incredibly useful. Not only do I love it but it comes easy to me. The only time I don’t cook is when I am too lazy and thus resort to boiled Ramen or a grilled cheese or even boxed macaroni and cheese.
The entire idea that someone not only didn’t want to cook but COULDN’T was a foreign to me as Mary Jane shoes (an entire fashion concept that I still don’t quite get, but that is besides the point for now). I mean, after so many years of cooking and cleaning and preparing and thinking about food and recipes, how could I ever even conceptualize that some people DIDN’T grow up the same way? How could a person NOT just KNOW how to make gravy from scratch or follow a recipe without getting confused? I was a stage two concern troll, I know. I was the quintessential culinary poster child for: “If I can do it, so can you.” And that has forever colored my thinking about the world around me. If someone in front of me was choosing lunchables and pre-packaged dinners in the grocery store then I was rolling my eyes at their laziness.
Just like the folks who look at me and assume I must never exercise because of my appearances; I was assuming that anyone buying such things was just being too lazy to make a good meal. Based on merely the appearance of their grocery cart I was judging their character and moral values. Yeah. Talk about a slap in the face and huge chunk of humble pie today when I finally addressed this pervasive assumption, grabbed it by the collar and finally asked it “What are you doing here!? You jerk! How could you be back here for so long and so undetected, coloring my view of people so negatively! Out you get! I don’t need this kind of crap stereotype thinking clouding what I THOUGHT was a judgment free zone. ”
How can I claim to be so forward thinking when even I can suddenly realize that the entire framework through which I view the world has been shaded by my own experiences in a way that made me view others and their choices negatively? Where do I go from here now that I’ve acknowledged the presence of such an awful thing within my own mind and past behaviors?
First I’m going to be conscious of the ways that I think, even more so, and work harder to question every thus-far unquestioned judgement that I have. I need to analyze where these beliefs are stemming from in order to be aware and figure out how to avoid them. In short, I need to stop being a judgemental dill-weed and THINK about my un-questioned beliefs before spouting off about the need for people to avoid certain things if they want to be healthy. Good heavens if I don’t then I end up being no better than those who pontificate endlessly about the needs of fat people to get healthy for healthy’s sake.
There is no one single “right” way to view the world and I do understand that how we live and the experiences we have do shape our view of the world around us in important ways. However, I have had a moment today that has changed my views in a large way and if I hadn’t addressed them then I think that would have only served to hurt my own travels down the paths of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I have worked hard to accept and understand my body. It is time to start accepting and understanding my mind as well. And that, is the unbiased truth. As I know it.