Amy on Judgement
You've no doubt heard the phrase, 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'
I agree 100%!
Now in the massive online world of social media, we see what people want us to see. And this can have a positive or negative affect on us emotionally.
I admit that, in times of my own insecurity, I’ve fallen into the trap of judging someone based on their Instagram page. The green-eyed monster of jealousy showed his ugly head just by looking at someone’s life on social media.
Let’s say, for example, they are fortunate to travel the world to exotic locations, decked out wearing the latest designer brands. Now, you or I may label such fortunate people as ‘rich’ or ‘stuck up’ and different from us.
As we know deep down, though, in most cases, this is not true. It’s our perception coming into play.
Do we really know who they are? What truly makes them laugh? Aside from the luxe holidays and wealth that many of us don’t have, do we choose to dislike them and put them down because it makes us feel better about ourselves?
I’m sure many of us have experienced judgement without even knowing.
Here is a story
Here’s a story about judgement and body shame from my past career as a model, and how self-compassion and self-love taught me to stop caring about what other people thought. Now I truly accept and own who I am. I’m grateful for the many painful moments I experienced, because this is what has shaped me into the person I am today…
I was a commercial model. I did some catwalk but was considered too short for runway shows mostly. I worked mainly in TV commercials, catalogues, and magazines. I went on to have a career in TV and was fortunate to be represented by some of Australia’s and the world’s most well-respected modelling agencies. I was fit and healthy, and lucky enough to make a good income from modelling.
Just like an actor or musician, modelling was all about getting your brand out there and gaining publicity for yourself to build your profile (along with promoting the network’s program you were working on at the time).
And so I was interviewed on TV, radio, newspapers, and appeared in fashion magazines as well as some sexy men’s magazines (along the lines of Maxim and Sports Illustrated). I appeared in Ralph, which was huge in Australia, FHM in Australia and overseas, and Black & White magazine, a nude art coffee table book, alongside Australian and international celebrities.
Pictures were taken of me in activewear and fashion, but mostly in swimwear for these men’s publications. At the time of the B&W shoot, I was thrilled yet nervous. I guess I wanted to regain control over my image in an artful way after the incident when my ex had manipulated me and shared nude photos without consent. I did a beach/nature shoot, and two images were selected of me topless (with my hoo-ha covered, of course!)
Just because I was on TV and in magazines didn’t mean I was confident. A shoot, behind the scenes, meant always being on a small set and my insecurity meant that the nude shoot, while healing and thrilling, was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life!
A friend of mine was starting up a website business and offered to do my website for free or a small fee. Websites weren’t as common then as they are now. At the time, it would have cost me around $10K+ so we helped each other out. I got a great professional website and he used this platform to gain new clients in the modelling and TV industry.
You know where this is going, right…?
No sooner had my friend uploaded the images to my website than the pictures were all over the internet… And not with the interview alongside it, giving my arty shots some context! What hurt was that the two topless images from Black & White magazine were on some random image-sharing sites, splashed everywhere over the internet, without consent.
I experienced body shame once again, since I had lost control of my artful photos, and they were displayed where no-one knew that they were for an art magazine.
When I started to have a voice - finally - I paid a lawyer to do something about it. We achieved some success and a few websites did take off the image. However, with some, we had no luck. (At least now you can fine someone for posting a picture of you without your consent. Hallelujah!) I’m out of the industry now, but I’ve seen some celebrities’ images appear with band-aids over their nipples. This is what I believe the sites now have to do, by law, or take down the image completely. This is the next step for me to follow, but it’s still a long road to remedying the damage, let alone heal.
My point is that this is how I’m judged by the world. What people see on these websites is not my true story. My life has been judged even when I got out of the industry. I was judged and mocked for starting a fake tan business, which actually became highly successful and launched my career in the beauty industry! It was so unnecessary too, being made fun of by a TV network for ‘orange tans’. Again, a long road to get over the shame of it.
More judgement came when I was ‘living the high life’, and this impacted and affected some of my relationships, both good and bad. Some men assumed I was promiscuous because of my background as a model and the swimwear shoots I did in men’s magazines. Some women have thought I’m a dumb blonde because I was a model or because they’re not happy with themselves. They would be nasty to my face and put me down because of their own insecurities.
I’m not sharing this to play the victim or to have anyone feel sorry for me. It feels liberating at last to have a voice and to speak my mind. These experiences of judgment have been eating away at me on the inside for many years. Even though they are hard to write, I hope this article inspires and encourages women to break free of the past stories they like to tell themselves.
Stop holding on to stories that aren’t loving and caring. Start embracing who you are. Own your ‘onlyness’.
Other people out there need to hear your story too… firstly heal yourself, then connect with others so that they know and feel they are not alone.
Ease their pain. We all have a story to tell.