I recently made a comment on Facebook (my first mistake) that sparked some curious responses. So I am doing what I do best. Not responding on Facebook in a comment, but writing an entire blog arguing my point. Because I still value critical thinking skills, especially in today’s age. Having an opinion and using logic and informed decisions to defend that opinion is crucial to understanding opinion can co-exist with respect. So, as I was taught so well as a public policy major, I present my case.
Here is the very comment I posted on Facebook: Are fitness leggings and sports bra / crop top a new airport attire trend I am not aware of?
While some people supported my statement whole heartedly (mostly those over the age of 40 — shit now I’m an ageist!), others immediately got defensive and made their case for why they wore leggings to the airport or dressed as if they immediately walked out of a gym to step on the plane. Others commented that my statement was body shaming and judgmental — that I was tearing down other women and contributing to a culture that shames victims (I assume of rape and sexual harassment) and slut shames.
There are several points to make here.
First, there is a difference between an opinion or a judgment and shaming. I said nothing about the size, shape, or appearance of the women’s bodies themselves. I didn’t go up to any of the women at the airport and tell them they shouldn’t dress like that. Or that they looked terrible. Or that they should be ashamed of their bodies and request they cover them up. I made an observation. This observation led to yes, I admit it, an unspoken opinion: that gym wear is not appropriate to wear to the airport. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, however, as I mentioned, this seemed to be a trend.
If these women were comfortable in that outfit, God bless them. I don’t care if Giselle cruised by me in Terminal 4 with a sports bra and leggings. I’d still think it was inappropriate to wear in the airport.
If you’re my friend and you wear a sports bra and leggings to the airport, I will think that you could have made a better choice. You still have a right to make that choice regardless of my opinion. I’ll still love you. Your personal choices have nothing to do with our friendship. (Unless you are choosing murder or cocaine or wearing Birkenstocks out in public . . . then we’d have to talk.) Lord knows what my friends have thought of my choice of men over the past twenty years. And honestly, they probably were right and I should have listened to them.
It also depends on the friendship. Is this a friendship built on years of trust and mutual respect? Or is it a Facebook friendship? There is a difference.
Which brings me to my next point. Why does everyone take an opinion as a personal affront these days? I think people are taking Brene Brown’s famous TED Talk a little too far. Yes, it’s terrible to grow up with constant shame from a parent or being bullied when you’re little. This leads to developmental trauma, which, if remains unexamined, can spark unconscious reactions that may not be warranted as an adult. And yes, shaming also occurs as a method to keep victims silent.
But I wasn’t talking about sexual assault or even something I considered remotely serious. (Please take everything I say on Facebook with a grain of salt. Have you seen my last two videos?) I assume if you are reading this you are a grown adult. Get a backbone. Not everyone is pointing a finger. Even if they are — who cares? Do you know the person making the comment? Do you love them or care about what they think? If the answer is no, move on. Is it a Facebook post? If the answer is yes, move on.
This is called critical thinking. Being able to discern thoughts from behavior. To potentially have a judgment and in the moment know that you’re having a judgment and choose to not react in the moment is called discernment.
(It’s also called using social media for what it’s worth which is frivolous opinion and not important issues, but I’m old school.)
Even if I did have the audacity to go up to one of these lovely young women and say Excuse me, I feel like your outfit is totally inappropriate for airport travel, she would be well within her right to say Piss off old lady. My reaction to that is up to me. Would I throw down and start a fight? Hell, no. I’d walk away and say fair enough. Her life.
And why are we so afraid of shame? Wouldn’t you want Derek Chauvin to feel a smidge of shame? How about a cheating husband? Shame, like every other emotion in the range of humanness is valid and it belongs to no one else but ourselves. It’s how we process it that counts. Can our shame be used as a force for good and move us to positive action? Or do we allow others to leverage it against us and defeat us? That is a choice.
I’d also like to address the comment saying “I’m surprised coming from you . . .” Why? Because I have an opinion? Or because I’ve promoted body positivity and been candid about my struggles with my own f’d up body image? Yes, absolutely — I am sensitive to women’s emotions and attitudes towards their bodies. Very sensitive. But I also believe there should be some set of decorum in airport attire when traveling. One has nothing to do with the other.
Isn’t this, by the way reverse shaming? Shaming me for having an opinion? Now you want to silence how I feel? Shame on you.
When does anyone comment on men’s airport attire? one comment asked. Right now. I am an equal opportunity judge. Find me a guy walking around the airport in a tank top, basketball shorts and Adidas pool flip flops with socks underneath and I’ll say the same thing — inappropriate. Will I go up to him and tell him he’s wrong or to get his shit together? No. But you can’t stop me from thinking it. He’s still free to wear them but if he asked me out on a date I would say no.
This is called human decency and it’s why we don’t all go around telling people what we think. But if you’re one of those people who let everything roll from their brain out their mouth — God bless you. Doesn’t bother me either way. Unless you’re my mother. And then my shit gets triggered.
If you think you carry no judgment let me ask you how you feel about people who vote for Trump? Or Biden? Or a pro-lifer? Or a pro-choicer?
Hold up a mirror. We all do it. How you handle your judgment is up to you.
There is no Utopia. Humans are messy, sloppy, feeling, wrong-doing, right-doing people, opinionated and God bless us, judgmental people.
We are all swimming in vomit of shame and blame. From where I stand, as long as you clean up your own puke, you’re good by me.