I was on the subway today and noticed a really large woman next to me. We were wearing the same colors – black pants and cornflower blue tops – and we acknowledged each other with our eyes, not just looking past each other the way people do when they are in public places. I saw a woman who was large but well dressed, with pretty silver jewelry that brought attention up to her face which was made up well (I appreciated her ability to do eye makeup, something I'm not so good at) and her hair was attractive.
I was aware, though, that I was seeing this woman and knew that she was bigger than I was, but I wasn't judging her as being a fat person. I was really checking out the hair, the makeup, the jewelry, the color choices for her clothes, and thinking how well she carried herself and how happy she looked with the people she was with. Which then got me started in looking around at other people with some different eyes … to see, to observe, but not to judge.
It was rush hour at Harvard Square so it was a busy place – the people were old and young, investment bankers and hippies, mothers with babies, lovers with piercings with hands all over each other, students with backpacks, tourists with maps and quizzical expressions. I saw with the "What Not to Wear" lens of Stacey and Clinton, looking at what people were wearing and how they were put together, liking some of the combinations and not so fond of others. Aware that some choices made people look really good even if their features and body types were ordinary, and other people with extraordinary looks pulled themselves down several notches by outfits or styles that didn't make the most of what they had.
And it struck me that maybe, just maybe, people were looking at me the same way, seeing me there on the subway and checking out my hair, my jewelry, my clothes, my sense of style and the way I carry myself – but without judging me in the process. I think that I am my own harshest critic when it comes to that. What they saw, what I saw when I put the lens on myself, is generously proportioned woman with a few lumpy places but dressed in nicely kept clothes that fit in colors that really flatter, well cut blonde hair, beautiful dangly silver earrings, a stylish bag over my arm, cute pink sandals, and a water bottle. I looked like everyone else.
I think this is an exercise I need to try more often.