Dude, Not For Me, But You Go Ahead

[Update: I removed several images I had originally posted with linkbacks to their original sites. Copyright is a touchy thing, so the post now only hyperlinks to the images. Sorry about that.]

My New Year’s resolutions are usually resolutions not to make resolutions. I mean, come on, if I need to start over in the self-improvement department, why wait for a cold, dark day in January? Act now, baby!

This year, however, was different. I actually made my first resolution in probably 25 years. And well, six months into 2012, so far so good.

So what was the resolution?

To be less judgmental. Not because I think I’m a highly critical individual, but because I want to be more Zen. I want to fill my life with more peace and open my mind to truly try to see things from other people’s perspectives. I’d really like to temper that initial holy-shit-what-the-hell-is-s/he-thinking response and become more of a quiet observer.

I mean, how many times could I actually learn something about life and humanity if I look and listen instead of dismissing things out of hand? Who am I to say what is or isn’t right for someone’s journey? How do I know what his or her circumstances or shaping forces have been?

My dad has told the story many times about when I was a little girl and used to follow him around asking, “why” – “how come” – “and then what?” He said I was relentless in my search for the meaning of things.

What happened to that little girl?

I want her sense of wonder back.

To do that, I have to stop forming snap judgments and instead ask, observe, and listen.

Recently, a woman showed me her pierced nipples. After my involuntary quiver, I thought, wow, that’s pretty neat. I asked her how she had the guts to get the second one done after the first one. She said it wasn’t that bad. In fact, getting her belly button pierced hurt worse.

Huh, I thought. I did the pierced belly button thing. Maybe…and what if…(click for a well-done image of a nipple piercing)…

Dude, nah.

But I’m really happy for her. It looks beautiful. It makes her feel strong and sexy and confident. That’s all that matters, right?

This Zen-business gets seriously tested around some of the more hard-core body modifications, though.

Like scarrification

And subdermal implants(Warning: if you click this picture, be prepared for some really intense, graphic and bloody images on this webpage.)

And good-old forked tongues

And the list could go on and on.

Obviously I’m talking about so much more than judgment about body modifications in this post, but I felt this was a good representation of behavior and a lifestyle that isn’t always “understood” by the general public.

So, if a certain choice makes someone happy and it doesn’t hurt anyone else in the process, it’s not my place to judge. I may not be able to always hold back an OMG WTF! But then, I’d like to ask…Why? What does it do for you? How come? And then what? Tell me more…

Maybe then I’ll understand and be the better for it. Even if it’s still not for me.

What do you think? Is passing judgment on other people’s choices (that don’t hurt others) ever acceptable?

Comments

  1. I try to judge as little as I can. Everyone has unique experiences in life that help shape their choices and decisions.

    (ps. I had both nippies done and my belly button..belly button definitely hurt way more!)

  2. Great post, Misty! This has been my goal recently too. I still make the snap judgments–how can I not, it’s instinct–but I’m trying to temper my reactions. If I want respect from others, I have to give it first.

  3. Mary Roya says:

    I try to accept what other people do as long as it doesn’t negatively affect me. But I still get a little nervous around some people with tattoos and body implants. They are just out and out scary and to be honest there are some I would like to see the rest hidden by their clothes. I can see the beauty in what these people do to decorate their body. But I wonder what they will look like in 30-40 years from now. Skin wrinkled, sagging, fat and old….will the designs lose their colors, will they regret doing it? Maybe, maybe not. Now after saying that, when I get my thighs tuck and my breasts lifted….I’ll post a photo of before and after..(not).

    • LOL. Yeah, sometimes my eyes feel like they’re popping out of my head. As for if they’ll regret it in several decades, I don’t think so. I think their body art will be so much a part of who they are that they won’t be able to imagine what it’s like *not* to have it…? Maybe we should just ask someone? :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Mary! Totally agree with yourt thought of ‘what happens in 20 years’! Got my midlife crisis tattoo last year. I’m petrified its going to resemble some gnarly yam in a few, but hey…right now I like it..it makes me feel a little sexier and a little younger! Hubby going for a new tatt in a week! His dad died suddenly a year ago and he is tatting the celtic cross we picked out for the grave stone on his deltoid. I just LOVE a man with tattoos, for women….if they are tastefully done I love them! You go girl on the thigh tuck and breast lift!!!! Im all for increasing your confidence and self esteem. When you feel better about yourself….you send good vibes out into the universe for all to share!!!!
      You go girl!
      Love J

  4. Hi Misty!

    This is a tough one for me. In my former life as a cop, I had to make judgements about people quickly. And I was pretty good at it. There is not a doubt in my mind I’m here today because of my instant opinion about a person potential to hurt me. Often those opinions were formed on clothing choices, tattoos, location where I’d contacted the person, time of day and on and on. Even though I’ve retired from the police department I still make those types of judgements.

    In the examples you’ve shown in your photos, you say that no one other than the person with these body modifications was hurt. That might be true from the physical pain perspective, but what about the emotional? I’m willing to bet that at least one parent is ‘pained’ by their child’s choice. Sure, you love your child and want them to be happy. But every time I see the tattoos my daughter has scarred herself with (and they’re very ‘mild’) my heart breaks…just a little. I’m probably not alone.

    • Thank you for your honesty, Kathy! You raise a very valid point. As a cop, I would imagine gut instincts are paramount. And as unfortunate as it is, stereotypes come about because they are very often true. So I totally respect your position, and if I were ever in your shoes, I’d probably feel the same. I am a big believer in intuition…if your gut is telling you something, you’d better listen up whether it’s in reference to the scary-looking fellow with 90% of his body covered in tatts or the innocent-looking, tatt-free man selling magazine subscriptions. My point is, just because someone looks/acts/speaks/behaves different than you doesn’t mean he or she is wrong or bad or sick. I know you don’t feel that way, I’m just trying to clarify my position.

      I don’t necessarily agree with, but I can also understand your position on feeling hurt about your daughter’s tattoos. I’d love to get a very small, discrete tattoo, but my husband doesn’t want me to get one because he doesn’t want anything to “mar” my body. To me, what is really the difference besides a tattoo and the makeup I put on my face every single day? Makeup is body art too, just more socially acceptable I suppose.

      Anyway, thanks again for sharing, Kathy! I love this dialogue! I’ll see you around the Interrogation Room on your blog! :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Kathy, Im alot like you in that I subconciously form a fast opinion with my eyes. Im trying to temper that in my older years and use my ears and my heart more now. What is on the outside is not always respresentative of what is on the inside. I also think our mom-personas are much more protective than our social-personas. We cant help but to want to protect our kids. I bet your little girl is the most awesome kid…because she has an awesome mom for a role model….her tatt is just a way for her to say… in her own way…Im special.
      Thanks for sharing your great insight.

  5. Misty, my personal philosophy for the past 10 years or so has been “Do you! and leave me the hell alone!” LOL! Everyone has the right to make their own choices about all sorts of things. I admit I’m a bit to the left (of most things) and it is annoying to me when people make judgements about MY choices (particularly since I’m not even an extremist, I just don’t walk the “normal” pathways). I have to be honest though; while tattoos and piercings may warrant at most a raised eyebrow from me, it’s other choices that call up my “DAMN!” factor: the mother dressed to the nines, while her child is unkempt and obviously chronically uncared for; the size 18 female who tries to squeeze into a size 8 spandex; the sister-in-law who can’t pay her bills and yet takes quarterly cruises to the Caribbean (ah, TMI, right?). But your point is well-taken: if I stopped to try to understand rather than judge, I’d probably feel more peaceful overall, but think of the story-lines and characterizations I could create in future writing projects!

    • “it’s other choices that call up my “DAMN!” factor”

      —Hahaha! I’m so going to use this!! Love that! And you totally raise some good points too. The thing with the trendy mom/neglected kid…she IS legitimately hurting someone–her child. And the woman who can’t pay her bills but takes a cruise/gets her nails done/etc…she is hurting someone too–the rest of us taxpayers who have to pick up the slack.

      That shit definitely raises my “damn!” factor. For things I have no control over, though, I do two things: I pray and I go out and do something nice in the world – even if it’s as small as genuinely complimenting a stranger – in the hopes that goodwill spreads and others pay it forward. Some people get so bitter over things they can’t control and it’s self-defeating.

      Okay, I’m going off on a tangent! You’re totally right about storylines and characterizations…seeking to understand others’ motivations will definitely impact your writing in amazing ways! :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Angelyn! You crack me up girl! Im so hearing you on the ‘other’ shit that gets my ‘judgemental bitch’ a-screamin’. I work with social services and shitty parents and neglectful idiots everyday. It burns me out to the point sometimes that I can’t function! Thats when hubby says…come on baby…lets go get a drink tonight…or a tatt…or lets have sex and work that frustration off! Im more an ‘behavior/ignorance/unethical judgmental than visual judgemental. I have to ALWAYS take a step back and say “Proving that Im right is not whats important…It’s moving the situation in the right direction to gain what is best for all is the best progress!” I have to repeat that to myself EVERY f’n day. When I judge…I feel llike crap about myself. Who the hell do I think I am? But at least everyday I try a little harder…to be a little better. I guess thats progress.
      That said….Im going to get a tatt now to drown my sorrows! Maybe a nice skull and cross bones on my forehead..
      Love YA!

  6. As human beings, we can’t help but make judgements on our first reactions – it’s a biological response. A survival instinct. Do we need to fear this person? Or maybe they would be a good mate?

    The real question is what are they trying to say about themselves? Body art is a form of communication. I have a pierced navel myself. I got it when I lost weight, and it was my way of saying, “Look at my new waistline.”

    Perhaps the key to looking at body art is to read it, rather than judge it. Thanks for bringing up the topic!

    • “Perhaps the key to looking at body art is to read it, rather than judge it.”

      Tam, this is AWESOME. Your whole comment is poignant. Thank you for adding so much to the discussion! Hugs!

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Tam, Love this response! I always tend to strike up conversations with people about their body art! I love looking at it and finding out why!

  7. Those look so painful but they do look amazing. I think if a person is comfortable doing it they should. I love tattoos and certain body mods just blow me away at the effort and work that goes into it. There is beauty in all forms of art.

    • “There is beauty in all forms of art.” –So true, Savannah! I’d like to slow down and see more of it in the world around me. I’m so glad to know you, girlfriend! :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Savannah, A girl after my own heart. Being an artist…I see the beauty in all these arr forms….

  8. Misty, I fell more in love with you today…in a whole non-sexual way, of course. LOL. Your perspective and outlook touches everything deep within me. I’ve been that person too much on the other side of being judged so if I have any impatience with people its for those who do judge. We have no ability to understand someone else’s journey unless we are willing to walk in their shoes (which isn’t something that is possible). Frankly, I don’t let what other people do bother me unless there is real harm involved, i.e. someone riding their bike on a hot day with a little dog with little legs trying to keep up – that gets my blood going. I saw a man yelling in a car at a kid while he was stopped at a stoplight and I mean hitting the dashboard type-mad telling him he was to blame for his mother’s actions. (I assumed it was a divorce-involved situation). My heart aches for stuff like that. But for personal choices? Naw. Those things expand my mind and help me to grow.

    Love you dear friend. You are one beautiful being.

    • Awww! Love you too, sweetheart! And well-said about expanding your mind/helping you grow. Yeah, those child/animal things make me mental too. This reminds me of an image I saw on Facebook…I wish we could post images in comments, but since we can’t I’ll post it on FB again and tag you so you can see it. It completely guts me.

      Hugs & love, m

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Karen, you are such a wonderful person…I just love you and you are right about Misty…she is awe-inspiring…
      Judging people for danger to kids and animals is our responsibity….you go girl!!!!!

  9. As someone with body modifications, even though none of mine are those listed and the only one that comes close are the microdermals in my chest, it’s great to hear someone who is not moderately modified or more decide to stop being as judgmental about peoples modifications. Especially when I can’t get my own family to stop being as judgmental as they are. It’s a lot more to ask of someone who doesn’t know me to not judge me because I look slightly different.

    • Hi Laure! (or is it Laurel? Correct me if I have it wrong!)
      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m glad you found me! I think/hope some of this BM discrimination/judgment will begin to lessen in time, especially if we bring dialogues like this and the one you have on your blog (http://laurelindoren.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/a-small-taste-of-body-modification-culture/) out into the open. Sharing your thoughts definitely reinforces my resolution, so thanks! :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Laurelin…Misty is so right on with this…just think…a few centuries ago if a woman cut her hair short she was an abomination! Or if she wore pants for God’s sake! Consider yourself a pioneer!!! You go girl!!! Can’t wait to check out your website!

      • You’re right Josie, society has made a lot of jumps forward, in my opinion. Thanks for calling me a pioneer. I never really thought of it that way. I guess in a 20 years we’ll see if I body modification can stand up to a modern world, and we’ll see if I really was some sort of pioneer.

        • My mom and I were just having this discussion earlier today. She thinks that when her parents’ generation is mostly deceased, tatts and other forms of body mod will become more the norm…or at least much less scorned. It will be interesting to see for sure.

  10. Carol Bjerke says:

    Great read. I use to make snap judgments. Several years later, here I am, trying not to judge others. It’s not my place and it’s none of my business. But it’s hard (not to judge) sometimes. The reality is that I need to focus on me and try to be as good a person as I can be. When I do that, judging others doesn’t happen as much or as easily.

  11. Okay, I admit I had an OMG WTH moment, and I refuse to click on the subdermal pic. However, I want to know why and then can I touch, ’cause it’s gotta feel pretty cool, right?

    • If you click the subdermal picture that page shows pictures of a guy getting spikes put in his head (think triceratops). Dude. Damn. Definitely not for the faint of heart or gut.

      But yeah, I’m a touch kind of girl too. Nice to see you ’round the Swagger, woman! ;)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Thats the spirit Lynne!!!!! OMG WTH followed up by WOW….thats interesting. Now thats what I call open minded chickswagger!

  12. Hey guys, the following is from crime fiction writer, Diane Kratz, who wasn’t able to post directly to the blog. She writes a fabulous blog herself about criminal profiling at http://profilesofmurder.wordpress.com/

    “I thought it {this post} was very insightful. I saw this today on my Facebook page and thought about your blog.
    —-A tattoo is a mark of the soul. It can act as a window towhich we can see inside. Or it can be a shield to protect us from those who cannotsee past the surface. —-

    “My nephew was into Goth. He wore white make up, black lips, piercing everywhere, spiked hair. I took him out to the movies and witnessed people pulling their children away from him. He is super nice and a wonderful father. I understand why they did, but I also know how wonderful of a person he is inside. He just expresses himself differently than most.”

  13. I am not a car person. Never really judged people on their cars, unless it’s a Hummer. Recently I’ve gone from teacher/soccer Mom in my Ford Focus to apparently drag race queen.

    My husband is having me drive his car because it gets horrible gas mileage and I don’t travel far. It is a gleaming black Mustang GT convertible with California pipes that make a defiinite sexy purr. I am shocked how I am judged…not as a gas guzzler, but I am tired of teenage boys wanting to race me. I just want to go to Krogers and get milk. :(

    I even had some people yell angry things at me because I’m not totally sure why. Maybe since it is a convertible they know I can hear them. I am a very safe driver because I know I’d be the first one a cop would pull over.

    • Ha! This is a different spin on things, that’s for sure, Morgan. Judged as a drag race queen, huh? Could be so much worse! LOL :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Morgan…you crack me up!!!! I do sometimes judge people by their cars….Especially men for some strange reason! Trucks with hunting stickers = redneck(like my man) Economical coup = nerdy, SUV = sporty, fancy little sports car = ….penis extension.

      Oh! Sorry! did I say that outloud?
      Love u

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