Friday, February 10, 2017

    For all of us women who are quick to judge, let’s be a little slower to form our opinions, a lot kinder, and let’s recognize our inner arrogance. Don’t tell me you have never judged. This would be fake news. Everyone has looked at someone at some time and thought, “Why would she wear that?” “What possessed her to wear her hair like that?” “Why would she say that?” We all judge. It is human. Most of us who learned manners as children keep the judgment in our heads and are decent enough not to verbalize it. Sometimes it can show on our faces, however, and as a sensitive woman who has been the object of such scrutiny, do not ever think that the person being scrutinized doesn’t notice. We do, and we feel the pain.

     Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours in a room with over 100 women. Each one of us is beautiful in our own way, and each of us carries an invisible backpack of worries, burdens, overwhelming responsibilities and fears. We all have scars, some visible, some not. No matter whether we have hour-glass figures or a few extra unwanted pounds, we are beautiful. No matter if our skin is flawless, pockmarked or wrinkled, we are beautiful. No matter whether we are tall,short, brown, black or green, we are beautiful.

     I met several women at yesterday’s Fashion Show, a place where women get to watch other women walk the cat walk. How many snarling cats were in that room? Who knows? Of all of those women, three stand out in my mind. One was thin and pretty. One was thicker but attractive. One, like me, was showing some signs of aging, but she exuded youth. After short conversations with each of these women at various times during the morning, I discovered that one had lost a son to cancer and has been a caregiver for her husband for 15 years. I learned that another has serious back problems, and she is in constant pain. I learned that the other’s husband has a disease, so she must care for him after work every day. If I had never listened to these three, I would not have known anything but what I saw with my eyes. Yesterday, I was reminded of the lesson I continue to relearn, seeing with the heart is much more important. We never ever know what’s going on with people we meet. Even some of our friends keep secrets that we would be shocked to know. 

     Years ago, my students never knew that for a few months, I cried all the way to work and all the way home. I was living alone in the boonies dealing with the fallout of a broken family. In front of them, I was a crazy, funny educator focusing  on them and how I could not just teach them but touch their lives in some way. Had I not endured the pain and sadness of my life’s journey, I would not have been sensitive to theirs. We never know from looking at someone what they are dealing with.

     That woman with a frown on her face that doesn’t return your smile might be one whose pain is beyond words. That woman who has seemingly “let herself go” may not have a choice. That woman who talks non-stop may be voiceless at home. We just never know.