“Hey Self, We Need to Talk. You're in Shame."
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
The following is content adapted from this writer's instagram:
Caption: The last 2 days have been an exercise in humility, accountability, and vulnerability. It feels important to note that my goal is not to take up space further related to the situation being discussed, but instead to reflect on my process of navigating shame and restorative justice.
I hope this offers some permission for others who seek to navigate the balance of engaging in liberation-focused work without being performative, appropriating, or being a savior.
I really value having trusted friends and colleagues, being in community with folx of all races that are working together toward liberation. Thankfully, these communities call me into deeper relationship with myself and how I engage in the world around decolonization.
Post Image Content:
Hey Self, We Need to Talk. You're in shame.
How do I know, you ask?
- The instinct to avoid, deny, defend
- Feeling a pit in my stomach
- Guilt about possibly having caused harm
- Struggling to have self-compassion
- Holding to perfectionist standards
- Comparing my response to others
- 'I should have known better'
Accountability: Own What Happened
- I was triggered by a bopo, fat Black woman sharing her experience with a detox diet. While processing, I centered myself as a white, small fat person.
- I failed to reflect on the racist and fatphobic systems that perpetuate 'diet culture' and that led to the pressure she experiences as a fat, Black woman in the first place.
Speak shame! Battle secrecy, silence, & judgment.
- An 'overfunctioning' anti-diet mindset focused on the potential triggering of others, which kept me from viewing the potential harm of my own response (especially for fat, BIPOC women).
- The guilt of having inadvertently reinforced those same racist and fatphobic systems led me to feel shame, because "I should have known better!" The truth is, I do know better, and it still happened.
- Even an intentional, antiracist, and body liberation-focused white person can slip into a colonized response in an instant.
- My feelings were valid in response to the trigger, but they could have been processed in a different context.
- Fat Black women do not owe me comfort, body positivity, or anti-diet behaviors. Regardless of their influence or past behavior.
Continuing to reflect
- These racist white, thin body ideals are internalized & intergenerationally inherited.
- I have to focus on the oppressive systems and support those who are subjected to these racist and fatphobic ideals, not express disappointment when they don't live up to (nonconsentual) expectations.
- I cannot rely on marginalized communities for inspiration. Many are resilient because of necessity, not choice.
- All people have the right to make decisions about their own bodies, including food choices, physical movement, medical treatment, and 'health' behaviors.
- Everyone is subjected to these racist and fatphobic ideals/pressure, but marginalized communities (e.g., BIPOC, TGNB, fat people) are especially harmed by them.
- As an imperfect person, I can do better by taking accountability of my words and actions and speaking truth to shame.
What comes next?
- I will check my tendency to sometimes shift into 'over-functioning' anti-racist & anti-diet responses (see Deborah Plummer's work).
- I will engage in restorative justice by holding myself accountable for my words & actions, making amends/reparations when possible, and continuing to increase community consciousness.
- I will continue to be mindful of the space I take up in conversations related to race, fatness, and gender. Liberation of the self only comes with liberation of all.
- Thanks for reading. Rather than shutting down or getting defensive, it was crucial to be vulnerable and lean into my shame.
- This work is challenging. And ongoing.
- Just to clarify, it is 100000% worth it!
- Heartfelt gratitude to @BlackandEmbodied who shared some major truths and reposted some important stories. <3
Time for Self-Reflection
- What resonated in this post for you?
- What activates/triggers your shame, and how does that present in your body?
- How does it feel when you speak your shame to someone nonjudgmental and supportive?
- What ways are you going to hold yourself accountable with self-compassion rather than shame going forward?
Note: This post was based on a shame reflection series shared on my instagram account on 12/16/20 and is for personal reflection purposes only. Any content shared via this writer's website or social media does not substitute for professional mental health support.