Why I Don’t Want Your Compliment

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I look different than I used to. People comment on it. It’s weird.

People I barely know say I’ve been “slimming down” and ask if I’ve been working out. Um. I teach yoga for a living and skate 3-6 hours a week (way less than many of my league mates). I’ve had a general increase in activity in the past few months because business is good and derby is great, but I don’t feel inclined to explain this to people. The subtext of their intended compliment is, “Although we’re practically strangers, I’ve noticed some changes in your body because I consider it my job and/or right to critique the bodies of others, and I want you to know that I approve/disapprove/have concerns.” In other words, it’s presumptuous as fuck.

I try not to give weight-based compliments because human beings are beautiful by definition and attaching a person’s worth to their weight is shitty. But I will say stuff like, “Wow, you look amazing!” Or I might even say, “You look like you’ve been taking good care of yourself,” which I hear some people take to mean “you look fat,” but I actually mean it literally. I try to praise any positive changes in a person, and maybe it’s equally presumptuous of me. But everyone likes getting compliments, so if someone seems like they’re happy, less stressed out, or really following their passion in life — or if they’re just really well dressed and rocking it, I like to tell them.

But when it comes to weight/body-related commentary, I prefer to keep my mouth shut and think other people should, too. For one thing, asking about a person’s weight is both rude and pointless. 1: It’s none of your business. 2: The number means mind-blowingly little for most people. 3: If the person’s weight is a threat to their health and you’re not their doctor, they probably don’t need or want your advice.

I get it, though. Humans like to give and receive compliments. It’s an evolved social bonding system, and our egos love it. But I could really do without comments on my body from pretty much anyone ever. Because really, I’m not doing this for you.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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actually, you’re already awesome

So, I just saw this:

I appreciate the sentiment, but I don’t think it’s exactly accurate.

See, you’re already great. Maybe you just don’t know it, yet.

You’re great for showing up. You’re great for investing the energy in yourself. You’re great for having enough love for yourself that you will show up and do the work. You’re BRAVE. When you look in the mirror, you might see all your shortcomings and failures, but you keep going anyway. You are fully aware of your every flaw, and you may have beaten yourself up a lot, and you may struggle to love yourself sometimes, and yet here you are.

One of the most incredible things about being a yoga teacher is that I get to see students do this work, internal and external. They meet their physical limitations and then have to do the mental work to accept themselves and to kindly ask their bodies to go a little further. I get the extreme honor of seeing them bloom.

Greatness is not in your physical form. It’s not in your career. It’s not in money. It’s in you. All you have to do is show up and shine.

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