This morning I was reading an article by Martha Beck. I discovered Martha Beck in Oprah's magazine, O. I think Martha is extremely wise, funny, kind and gives great advice. I haven't been reading much by her lately but this article is about self-consciousness, something many women are familiar with. The article talks about getting hung up on social judgments when, most of the time, nobody is really paying attention to you. Many of us are worried that no matter what we wear, people are going to gossip about us, point out flaws, make us feel stupid and embarrassed. Very often, most of the people we encounter in a day won't remember they saw us let along what we were wearing. If you attend a function or a party, depending on how well you know the people, the numbers change a little but not much. I think most often we are getting half the attention we think we are.(if that much!)
I get very self-conscious over my appearance because the MAS has given me severe scoliosis which despite surgery and a rod in my back, my spine is still pretty curved. Both my hips bow out but in different ways and my lower legs are scarred, bowed in different places and not too pretty. I get stared at a lot when I go out, even if I'm wearing pants. When I was 13 I stopped wearing shorts for this reason...and my legs were better then!
Now I wonder why did I do that? People stare whether I wear long pants, short-shorts, a bikini or a snow suit! lolol I may get more stares in a bikini! but they're stares...and they're not because I look like Cindy Crawford or Cameron Diaz. Maybe it's old age, maybe I'm sick of people, maybe I prefer to be comfortable...but today I say, go ahead and stare if you want to...maybe I make people feel better about themselves.
I'm going to be honest here. I don't feel this way everyday. I have plenty of days when the idea of going outside and dealing with people's stares makes me cringe and I can't face it. Fortunately, those days are fewer and fewer. I do sometimes wonder what advice Martha Beck would give me on those self-conscious days. And I do wonder why people stare at me so much and so blatantly.
Why do we stare at strangers, people we don't know. I don't mean looking briefly at someone with a 3-foot high orange mohawk but staring bug-eyed at a woman with more make-up that you would wear and tight, animal-print leggings. Really, so what? I guess it's human nature.
If you catch someone staring at you, I found it's very effective to say hi and smile brightly at them. If they continue I often ask if I can help them with anything! It's better than when I was 5 and 6 and would stick my tongue out at people who stared at me!
My favorite piece of advice Martha Beck gives when a friend says someone is staring at her or she's afraid people will talk about her: