No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.*

Last night I had to speak on stage at a fundraiser. This fundraiser boasted of musicians and burlesque dancers. There were pasties and g-strings and rockin’ tunes. I worried all day about what people might think of me- not so much judging what I would say but what I looked like. After watching the first few acts, my anxiety grew. Who wants to go up on stage after sexy, scantily clad women have been up there? Um, not me. There was a bright spotlight blinding me so I could only see the first couple rows. The emcees and I had a little banter and I said something like, “I’m here to talk about (name of my organization) and I won’t be taking off any clothes.”

From the audience I heard someone say, “Thank you!”

It has stayed with me.

That person could have been genuinely thankful. I mean maybe he doesn’t like seeing half-naked women? (As if.) He could have been attempting to be funny just as I was. But I don’t know… what’s funny about that? I tried to shake it off but here it is the morning after and I am still thinking about it. I am taking it too much to heart. I’ve let it get under my skin.

How could it not? It preys on my worst fear.

There are days where my entire awareness is seated in my belly. When I look in the mirror, my eyes beeline for it. On a good day, my gaze might only flick over it. On a bad day, I might stand examining it from every angle as the tirade of negative self-talk whispers harshly in my ear. Because it is all I see, I imagine that it is all anyone sees when they look at me.

And then when that guy said that, something inside me went, “SEE?! TOLD YOU.” Because my body self-loathing is going to grasp at anything to fuel it.

Maybe you have something similar but in a different part of your body- a place where you fixate your belabored frustration- and there are days where you daydream about cutting that part of you off or out.

It’s not just me, right?

I have been doing so much internal work to accept myself – my faults and quirks – and to change my patterns but I feel stuck when it comes to shifting how I view my body. Do I just accept myself size 18 and all or do I work furiously to whittle my body down to a size where I am more “acceptable”? What comes first? Am I doing it for me or as an attempt to placate the world and protect myself from any harsh criticism? This has been a lifelong struggle for me and I still don’t know the path to take.

I spend too much energy on this. I swear if I were to give any of my daily tasks half the focus I give this body self-loathing, I would be an accomplishing machine. I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with this body of mine through my yoga practice but as I have discussed, there are barriers I still have to push through. I was feeling good last year around this time when I was dropping all kinds of weight. Is that the only way I can like my body? Is if I am making it smaller? The only times I can remember feeling confident in my body was when it was disappearing. When I was 100% dedicated to weight loss. What does that say about me?

I’m tired of only seeing what is wrong.

I’m tired of consenting to feeling inferior.

*Eleanor Roosevelt

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48 thoughts on “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.*

  1. to people like the heckler, the shell is what’s important not the surprise inside.

    i feel like this all the time with voices in my head saying, “you know you’re fat, right? I bet they think you’re fat and you should do something about it all day long.” In truth, I’m sure they think this but also, people are way too self-absorbed to think too long about anyone else other than themselves.

    i also think of spiteful scenarios for assholes like him. “He has a small penis. No one wants to screw him. He wears women’s underwear.”

  2. For what it’s worth, I think you are beautiful and a beautiful person. I always have. Maybe I Never told you or didn’t tell you enough. And to share, my “belly” is a furry back and shoulders. I want it gone and it makes me not want to take my son to swimming class. Big deal right? How lame is that? Sometimes it freezes me. Hate it. Keep on keeping on.

  3. I think you are a WONDERFUL person! You inspire me every day :)

    I think that the best weight for anyone is a measure of how healthy they *are* – as in, do you eat right (most of the time- nobody’s perfect)? Do you exercise your body and your mind? If the answers are yes (it appears to me that you do all of these things very well) then whatever weight you end at is where you are meant to be.

    I think we tend to be a cookie-cutter society- expecting everyone to look the same or be the same, and that is completely off from how it is (and how it should be, in my grand estimation). We are all unique. Life would be pretty boring if everyone was the same!

    All of this is to say, you need to be okay with yourself! (I know you know that, but tell it to yourself more!!) Its not like you live at McDonalds and never get off the couch! You seem healthy and vibrant and we all know that you have an amazing and wonderful personality – all that is quite an awesome package!

    A very good friend gave me a book of motivational quotes by Zig Ziglar that I look at regularly. This one is my mantra right now: “Dont be distracted by criticism. Remember – the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” That heckler last was just trying to boost himself. Dont let him have that power over you! You deserve so much better!

    Hugs!

  4. Who knows what that person mean by his thank you comment. I want you to know I think you are fantastic! I have a hard time speaking in front of people that fact that you spoke in front of people makes me proud of you. Is that weird? I hope not.

  5. You are a sexy and beautiful woman inside and out. You wouldn’t have such awesome friends and an awesome partner if you weren’t.

  6. I defy anyone to read your blog and not a) identify strongly with you, and b) like the dickens out of who you are. You are beautiful, Sizz, inside and out. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  7. It is so funny that you talk about this today, as my body image has been on my mind constantly for the last 2 days. I have never thought of myself as attractive. I’ve been “chubby” since the 5th grade and have continued to watch the scale go up for most of my life. I figure men aren’t attracted to me because I’m not the “perfect” shape. Yesterday I get an email from a guy that I have just reconnected with after 10 years…and he completely admits to me that he was attracted to me and thought I was “fine”. Of course, my brain instead of accepting the compliment….was telling me that he must be thinking of someone else. So short story long…I completely understand what you are going through. You are beautiful person…inside and out. Just keep telling yourself that and maybe that stupid voice will stop being so loud.

  8. let’s call a spade a spade – the heckler sounds like an asshole and it’s okay that you feel bothered. try not to make your health goals – physical, mental, and spiritual – about what these assholes say but how you feel about yourself.

  9. I was once walking across a Dairy Queen parking lot when someone screamed from a passing car YOU’RE FAT. And I thought to myself Do you think I am unaware of that? That I don’t realize it? That I have never seen my reflection?
    I am now of the opinion that I need to accept myself as I am, instead of waiting for some magical scale number to give me permission to be happy.
    And that heckler? Fuck him. He doesn’t know shit. Why accept the opinion of a stranger over the opinions of people you trust?

  10. The way I see it, if there was a fire in front of you, you wouldn’t stick your hand in it. Not more than once. But negative self-talk, negative thinking about yourself, it’s like sticking your hand in the fire, day after day. You get used to it, and maybe it doesn’t hurt as much after awhile, but it’s still not any good for you.

    And this heckler just sounds like an ass and what he said really has nothing to do with YOU and more about him. But it’s easy when you have those negative thoughts about yourself to think everyone is looking at you and sees that part of you that is your “belly” and is laughing, but most of the time, people are just desperately trying not to show what part of them causes them shame.

  11. Oh, HONEY. First of all, you KNOW you’re gorgeous and fabulous. And the world is full of assholes, and he probably saw an opening to get five seconds of attention. I’m so sorry that you’re feeling this way, but what he said speaks VOLUMES about him, and nothing about you.

    (Also, I’m hijacking this comment to say: I GET TO SEE YOU TOMORROW!!!!!!!)

  12. Dude. I so hear you. I hate when people find it necessary to point out when you’re fat — like you’re not acutely aware of it. I was walking once — out on the street, trying to NOT be fat — and someone drove by and yelled “work it, fat ass!” out the window. I turned around and went home because it solidified all my fears — that no matter how I might try, I’m still gross. That’s LAME, I realize and totally untrue (that guy was just an asshole), but it made me want to hide not only myself, but my attempts at fitness. Like fat people have to exercise inside, under the cover of darkness. It’s why I used to be uncomfortable at the gym, like so many others.

    I’m sorry that dick said that to you. But I totally understand how you felt. And, for what it’s worth, you inspire me when I berate myself. Your efforts are self-acceptance remind me to do the same.

    p.s. when are you coming to Vegas so we can have a cocktail? In PUBLIC, where people might SEE US, oh no! ;-)

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  14. That is just mean and that guy must have his own serious issues. He is probably very lonely if he acts like that regularly. Maybe that is why he didn’t want to see someone without their clothes. Because he can’t get anyone to take their clothes of for his stupid ass. Have a happy Friday and a good weekend.

  15. I have been struggling with hating my body since…well, probably since I was 12 or so. I spent years and years trying hard to be super hard-core about weight loss and found it both awful (in that I felt worse, in a way, because all I was thinking about is my body and what I was putting in that…and who wants to be that person?! The one time I met you, I was in the middle of one of those phases — and to be fair, had lost weight…but it was awful) and incredibly discouraging (in that I really, truly disliked the way my body looked all the time, and projected the way I felt about myself onto other people’s feelings about me). It wasn’t good.

    About two years ago, I decided, “fuck it”. I made a decision to live my life and enjoy it, and to do my best not to think about my body or what I was putting in it, or doing to it, until I reached a stage where I was just enjoying life. This was my effort to shut my internal control freak up. And then, one day (August 18 of this year, to be precise), I woke up and said, “enough”. And for the first time in my life, I really meant it. I’ve lost almost 35 pounds since then, and two sizes — and I’ve been doing it in a way that’s sustainable. I’m not at the gym every day, I’m definitely eating and still going for drinks with friends…I believe people call this “balance”. :) And I have to say, I’m so much happier. It’s not about weight or size — but both of those things are relevant in terms of you knowing what your healthy, good spot is. If you’re not there, you’re just not going to be as happy — just as you wouldn’t be as happy if you were living in Arkansas instead of Seattle (your healthy, good location).

    The short comment is that I don’t know what your answer is, but for me? I couldn’t find balance or get in the mental place to get in shape in the right way until I really just let go of trying to control it for a while. And now that I have, I can say that for everything I said about body acceptance, etc. (and I still believe people are beautiful, whatever size or shape they are), I feel a million times better about myself — I’m much happier and healthier.

  16. There are two-ish very important words to remember in these situations.
    “Fuck ‘em”
    Because you’re a classy, beautiful, intelligent, sexy woman. You’re the one on the stage, doing important shit. He’s sitting in the audience surrounded by at least ten people who now have the ability to point out an asshole.

    Seriously, I’m sorry that happened to you. It’s happened to me before too. People suck, in general. However, for every asshole in an audience there’s ten of us here who think you’re the cat’s pajamas. :-)

  17. ugh, what a douchebucket. i’d be willing to bet it was a comment almost entirely not about you at all, but more a way he thought he’d get a laugh from his equally douchey friends. the thing that sucks is that those “hilarious” throwaway comments tend to hit people far harder than the douchebucket probably even intended… but it’s not like knowing that makes it less bothersome, i realize. still. douchebucket.

  18. Oh, sweetie. Please know that you are one of the most beautiful people I know, inside AND out. Your personality, your laugh, your eyes, your smile, I could go on and on.

    Love you, lady.

  19. The thing is… you just never know what’s going through people’s heads. Trying to put thoughts there will lead to nothing but disappointment for everybody involved.

    It’s entirely possible that he has a tiny, tiny penis, and finds women with missing article of clothing to be intimidating. He was there for the music, and wasn’t planning on seeing the burlesque show.

  20. Food for thought: you didn’t feel better because your body was smaller, you felt better because you were taking care of yourself. You were being good to yourself and making positive choices and your body responded by losing weight. The more we punish ourselves, the worse we feel and it shows up in how we look. No one else is doing that to us, we do it to ourselves. We can change. x

  21. That comment was just a ridiculous attempt at an attention grab. He is a social idiot if he thought it was funny, and he deserves nothing more than a moment of pity.

    I remember seeing you at Blogher a few years ago and thinking “I wish I could be as adorable and put-together as she is.” And then you were a fantastic person, too! I am always impressed by you.

  22. oh sizzle, i think most anyone who reads this post can identify with what you said on some level. i know it doesn’t change anything, or probably won’t make you feel any better, but i want to thank you for sharing this with us all. also, it doesn’t take away the angst that you’re feeling right now, but i just have to tell you that i think you’re a fantastic lady. we all have these fixations- you are absolutely right. for some it’s their belly, some their ass, some their smile and some, the way they would freeze going in front of a group of people and wouldn’t have the slightest idea on how to make a funny (that’s me, by the way).
    big hugs to you, my dear friend.

  23. When I first read what the guy said, “Thank you,” my first thought was that he had had enough nudity for the night. Not that he was saying anything bad about you. And you’re amazing. You’re an amazing writer and an amazing woman. It’s all about positive self talk.

  24. Oh Sizzle, eff that guy. I know that’s not really what it’s about, though, that just put voice to what you already fear. But we are more than our bodies. And YOU are so, so, so much more than a number on a scale or a size on a label.

  25. Oh man. I’m at work and I can’t read all the comments, and I’m sure I’m repeating what others are saying but FUCK HIM. This makes me so angry, I could spit. You spend your days working hard for a good cause, underpaid I’m sure, there you were on your personal time working an event, getting up on stage for charity, AND THAT FUCKER MAKES A COMMENT ABOUT YOUR BODY?!?!?!?!?

    OH MY GOD. I hope his dick falls off.

    I’m glad you are being deeper than me and trying to be all zen about this. Me? I just want to kick someone’s ass. You are so awesome and brave and Beautiful. I hate that guy so much.

  26. We are our harshest critics. My advice would be to try and silence the critic as much as you can, which I know you are trying to do. Because the alternative of trying to be an ‘acceptable’ size is no way to live life. It will make you boring, and I bet you $1 million it won’t fix all your body image issues and make you insanely happy.

    How many blogs out there are written by skinny, fit women trying to be skinnier and fitter? They take pics of everything they eat, track calories and post them online and describe every workout they do. It is so sad because 1) they are already healthy, and 2) their life is all about their body. YOU are so much more than that!

    Sure, we all have to work at being healthy, but it’s hard to change the way we look without turning into some kind of slave. Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes, and so does beauty. And you are beautiful…do not lose sight of that.

  27. That guy will probably get a ravaging case of herpes (if he doesn’t already have it) and lose his job on the same day. That’s just how karma works.

    Lady, you are beeee-utiful! I admire you for all the things I wish I was (smartly stylish, for one! outgoing, for another! loved by many, for third!). Eff that d-bag. You are classy, intelligent, lovely and LOVED, loved, loved!

    PS: Eleanor was a smart woman!

  28. Fuck that dude! His comment was cruel and I hope everyone sitting around him gave him evil looks. I know it’s difficult to drown out the negative comments / opinions of others but please know that he is just one measly little prick against an army of Sizzle-supporters. You rock, lady! xo

  29. Honestly, when I started reading this, I thought that he WAS saying it because he was tired of the half-naked ladies. I imagined some more hilarious banter to follow. The direction this took threw me off guard.

    Why? Because you are GORGEOUS. Every time I see you I think “that’s how I want to look”.

    I don’t have any spare minutes to read the above comments, so please excuse me if I repeat. Siz, it’s about damn time you get on board. All the people you know and love, think you’re awesome. Size 2, Size 18, Size 28. No one cares. You are the only one who lets it eat you up. Do you not trust us that you are awesome? Take care of yourself. Do things that make you feel good. That can be eating healthy, yoga-whatever. And let it go. Just let it go.

  30. i wrote a long comment, and after i wrote it I read a comment that said:
    ‘You’re so much more than a size or a number on the scale’.

    What a great comment! Such wonderful words!

    I love a song in Spanish that says something like this in english: ‘There’s noone like you, only you are this way, God loves you the way you are’

    We love you just like you are, and you have all the support from our readers and all the people who love/care for you!

  31. You know, I am with Jen Angel… when I started reading, I really didn’t think that this was a snide comment, but a joking, funny one. I didn’t think he really meant that he didn’t want to see YOU naked (even though I understand how you could take it the wrong way).

    I can only second all the other people before me, from what I can tell, you’re beautiful INSIDE and OUT.

  32. Oh Sizz, I’ve been there: Back in college I was trying to jog, and actually doing it. A guy leanead out his dorm room and whistled, but as I turned past and crossed th street he yelled” Whoa…you’ve got a FAT ASS!” I’ll never forget that. His comment in 1986 still sticks with me today. It’s in my blueprint. The difference is that now, as a Mother of 2 ( a son & a daughter) I use these as examples of 1. how not to treat others and 2. how not to have some ignorant & insensitive person effect your life. Why give them so much power? What a waste of our precious time. Sometimes when I am huffing & puffing on a hike, or cannot get into a pose becasue my tummy is in the way I remind myself that there are millions of people who’d love to be me…I can walk and see and hear and speak etc…the basics we take for granted need to be celebrated! Celebrate you baby!

  33. I love you, Sizz. I think you are gorgeous, smart, kindhearted and funny. Your style and ‘pizzazz’ are a true gift, and I HATE that a stupid comment made by a stranger has had this effect on you.

    I have a mind to fly to Seattle, hunt the moron down, and punch him right in the head for you.

  34. It’s not just you. Reminds me I want to read Portia de Rossi’s new book, Unbearable Lightness, in which she talks about her anorexia. Hearing her describe it on a talk show just made it clear that it doesn’t matter what we look like, our eyes go to our perceived flaws. That’s social conditioning to be sure.

    Remember you’re awesome and already doing what you can to be healthier. You’re on a journey. One of The Four Agreements (a good little book) is “Don’t take anything personally.” It’s difficult but you have no idea what that guy’s story was, and ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

  35. hey sizzle,
    i agree with the folks before, and you should block that nastiness out like it’s the bubonic plague.

    one of the best gifts my mom gave me was to tell me how beautiful i was, exactly the way i was at any given time…even when i was bitching about not feeling skinny enough. it gives me courage to out and do, to know that someone loves me because of my insides, regardless of how i perceive my outsides. i’m not a mom myself, but it’s something i will most definitely make sure my children know.

    and you? you are beautiful. even the parts about yourself that you don’t like….they’re beautiful. you’re *beautiful*.

    (and if that’s not a reason to celebrate? i don’t know what is! !)

  36. Sweetie, I think the most of us would have been bothered by that heckler. It was mean thing to say, also might I add cowardly hidden behind the shield of anonymity.

    If you aren’t feeling healthy and whole in your body, then by all means change. But it needs to be for you and not for anyone else.

    Hugs.

  37. I’m the same way. When I’m on my heavy side, as I am now, I can’t but look at my belly/thighs and sigh. It never stops. It’s not until I start losing the extra weight and my pants start feeling lose again , that I give myself a break, but that can last months, even years… that’s a long time to be beating myself up. I think it’s time to let it go and be happy how we are, whatever that may be.

  38. people are so fucked up (can you hear me saying that?) ;)

    I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself.
    Oprah Winfrey

    xo
    j

  39. I just spent ten minutes crying and telling Vahid that I’ve gotten so fat this morning. In all honestly I hate the way I look in clothes now and it’s a constant struggle to shove those thoughts out of my head.

    It just sucks doesn’t it?

  40. I think if you have a bad body-image then you’re always going to have it :/ I’m not over-weight by more than a couple of pounds but that doesn’t stop me freaking out if someone mentions my body – be it good or bad. I get angry with myself cos it’s self-indulgent bullshit but I can’t change the way I feel. I think you’ve just got to ride it out :/

  41. That guy was a dick but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

    I’d like to hope he outed himself to his friends as an asshole.

    The problem is that it will always be a problem. There is no perfect. (Exhibit A: Pictures of “celebrity cellulite” in tabloids.) I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s something to work on every day.

    Big love.

  42. I wish I could give you a big hug! On the one hand it is easy to say that whoever said that is a big jerk, and you are beautiful and who cares what he/she said. On the other hand, I know that ONE comment validating the negative things I constantly say to myself is worth about 1 million comment saying I am awesome and contradicting it. I am so sorry that person was a jerk. What I think they meant was that maybe all the stuff was overwhelming and they could use a break from it. Listening to a beautiful fully clothed woman was refreshing. How could anyone look at you and not just see beautiful? I don’t think it’s possible, so I am just going with that explanation.

    I think the way both of us are is to never think we are good enough. Regarding anything. I know how hard it has been to talk myself out of some firmly held untrue beliefs, so I can only imagine it must be about the same for you and seeming to love yourself only when changing. For the record I think you are beautiful and don’t need to change anything in order to be wonderful. Hopefully you will believe that yourself soon too because that is the part that really matters.

  43. It’s so easy to say “shake it off and don’t let it get to you”, but easier said than done, right? I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments, but I’m sure it’s already been said: we all have a “belly” that makes us self-conscious. It may not be a literal “belly” but it’s some part of our body that we dislike and feel everyone notices the minute we enter a room. Depending on what I wear, it could be my arms, my legs, my belly :) or my butt. And it sucks when others target our Achilles tendon. For what it’s worth… you ARE beautiful. The saying that’s helped me move forward in so many areas of my life the past 15 months is that ‘life is too damn short for me to spend it unhappily’. It’s too short to let idiots steal your positive self-esteem that you’ve been working so hard to improve. It’s too short to dwell on trying to fit into anyone’s mold of what they think is acceptable. Be who you are (which is a beautiful, intelligent, witty, strong, amazing woman) and revel in it! So many people love and adore YOU… how could all of us be wrong? :-)

  44. I wish you would have bellowed into the mic, “Douch Nozzle.”

    You are beautiful on the inside and out. I know this because I’ve hung with you twice now. :) And both times you looked amazing, with the most fashionable outfits ever, and you were as delightful as I could ever have hoped you to be. You have rockin’ curves, a gorgeous smile and big, pretty eyes that one can’t help but want to just fall into. Seriously. And the fact that you can hold plank pose for a minute – come ON now! Damn.

    People are assholes. Clearly, that guy has a tiny penis or a tiny brain or some other deficiency that caused him to make a remark like that in attempt to compensate. I know that doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve had people point out the fact that my teeth are off-center, that I have one ear about a half inch higher than the other, and that my boobs are mosquito bites. It makes you want to put a bag over your head. But you and I have something a lot of others don’t – we’re smart and funny and those traits overpower whatever “flaws” our shells (as someone above called them) may reflect.

    I want to paint you a giant sign that says, “Sizzle, you are awesome.” Because you are.

  45. People can be such monsters. This makes me so angry for you, I just don’t know what to do with myself. Body-snarking is sadly never going to go away entirely, but we can make an effort to change the way in which we’re quick to view others, and the way in which we view ourselves. Hopefully it’ll catch on and, the next time someone does something like that again, the people around them will give them what for.

  46. That dude (or lady) who said the snarky comment can go to hell. First of all, I bet no one would want to see that individual naked if given the chance. Secondly, I imagine they were showing off and not even paying attention to you as a person. (I mean showing off as in trying to look cool/witty in front of their friends. He/she could not allow you to have the spotlight).

    Sizzle, I’ve read your blog for a while and I enjoy it, but you worry and analyze yourself far too much. You’re not doing yourself any favors by doing this. Life is short, and you already kick ass, so just accept that.

    Ok. Sorry for the small lecture. And all of the bad language in my post.

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