This isn’t a self deprecating post I promise!!
In our (and any) Society, certain norms are established by popular consent, and these days, by social media. People are expected to fit into certain moulds, and if they don’t their validity is questioned. It is pervasive throughout society, that if you don’t act/look/feel a certain way you are judged.
You know the type of thing:
- A regular gym-goer must be either Strong and muscular (male) or petite and only interested in cardio (female)
- A gym goer / exercise doer who is not one of the above stereotypes must be trying to lose weight
- Women must at all costs want to be mothers.
- Eating any food deemed unhealthy by society, must be prefeced with the words “I know I shouldn’t really…” or “I’ll go for a run later…” or some other such thing to offset the perceived sin of eating food.
- You must look young at all times, without appearing to be trying to look young
- In addition to looking young, there are countless lists of things that people over 25/30/40 etc must stop doing (for example you aren’t allowed long hair after 40 according to some people)
- A person with a talent mustn’t just come out and say, “yes, I am good at things”
- If you are in anyway over society’s percieved acceptable weight limit you must be on a diet or planning a diet or unhappy with yourself
- Women must be quieter and less aggressive than men, their opinions must be stated in such a way that they don’t upset anyone.
This is just a short list of Societal norms that it is difficult to stray away from.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with conforming to these norms, as long as it is a choice.
However, I have realised (or re-realised I should say) recently that I don’t conform to most of these, and you know what…it is ok!
What has brought me to this realisation I hear you ask (well…I don’t but I am imagining it…). Last week, in one of those perpetually awkward obligatory conversations which take place while making coffee in the work kitchen, I happened to mention that I had been to the gym in the morning. I went on to mention that it was something I do regularly. At this point, the person I was talking to, looked me up and down from head to toe and then got a slightly dubious look on his face. It was a quick look, so quick that I had carried on the conversation before registering it, but it was definitely there.
It stuck in my head, it made me angry, it made everyone I told angry. It was rude and unthinking and quite probably unknowing, which goes to prove how ingrained these norms are. It wasn’t a comment, it wasn’t overt, but it was an indication of an associated thought process, it was an indication of a judgement however unconscious. I was angry about this for about 6 hours. I was plotting subtle and not so subtle revenge on the person in question, until in the process of discussing it with people (I was angry…I told everyone) I realised that it didn’t matter.
I remembered that I don’t care what he thinks.
I remembered that the opinions of people who are not important in my life don’t matter at all!!
I remembered that I am awesome. I am doing the things that I want to do without feeling the need to conform to any stereotype that doesn’t apply to me!
I realised that I had been bogged down recently with worrying about insignificant things, I was extremely close to falling into bad diet plans and habits because I started to believe the hype about weight loss being the only worthy goal. Well, it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to complain about losing some fat, but I am not going to be cowed and justification-y before it happens. I am going to walk tall (well as tall as possible for a 5’4.5″ person) and remember that I am not defined by other people’s opinions!
I am good at the things I do
I am strong
I am fit enough to dance in a mask
I am not a stereotype, I am not quiet, or non-aggressive, I am not what people expect, but quite honestly I don’t want to be!!