In the book, Joyful Eating, I dedicate an entire section and self-reflection activity to judgment. This is because, how we judge ourselves, perceive that others judge us and how we judge others, with respect to weight and size, can all influence how we interpret the actions and comments of others. Let me explain with an example.
A man I regularly see at the supermarket was standing at my tasting station. He took a mouthful of the vegetarian stir-fry, smiled at me and stated, “your recipes are always so delicious”.
His comment perked the interest of a lady that was passing by. She came over to inspect the stir-fry and glance over the recipe.
The man continued, “I’ve been preparing a lot of your recipes lately and have since lost some weight”.
The lady looked up from the recipe and said, “oh, really”. She took a recipe and resumed shopping while the man continued with the stir-fry.
“I’m pleased you are enjoying the recipes,” I said… “weight loss can be a consequence of switching to more balanced eating. However, the important thing is you are enjoying more nutritious foods.”
He frowned at me, “did you hear what that lady said?”
“Um, no”, I responded with a puzzled look, thinking that maybe something had been said that I didn’t hear.
“When I mentioned that I’d lost weight, she glanced at me and said ‘oh, really’, like she didn’t believe me. She doesn’t know how much I weighed before.”
It was then that I realised we had both interpreted her ‘oh, really’ quite differently.
He had interpreted her ‘oh, really’ as disbelief. He took it to mean, 'oh, really. I don’t believe you. Have you really lost weight? You don’t look like you have'.
In contrast, I had interpreted her ‘oh, really’ as curiosity and confirmation. She had after all taken a recipe following his announcement that the food was delicious and he’d lost weight.
"...we each interpret everything that occurs in our life through our own belief system."
The thing is, we each interpret everything that occurs in our life through our own belief system. Although, we may see and hear the exact same input as someone else, how we internalise this input can vary based on our self-perception and past experiences. If we fear others judgment of us for our body shape or size we can interpret their remarks as relating to our weight, when it may or may not be the case.
Obviously, there are instances when you outright know that a person’s perception of you is based on your weight. This is something I cover in more detail in Joyful Eating to help you free yourself of the fear of judgement.
“When you release your fear of being judged for your weight, it can appear that those around you judge you less for it.”
—Tansy Boggon, Joyful Eating: how to break free of diets and make peace with your body.