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Women & Their Bodies – What’s Up With All the Judging?

Ever since Angelina Jolie went public with her big announcement about her recent prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, I’ve been wondering…

Why is there this tendency for so many people to judge the decisions, especially medical ones that women make about their own bodies?

I find this phenomenon to be quite interesting, rather troubling and somewhat baffling.

I know Ms. Jolie is in the public eye, but still, what’s up with all the judging?

Since the big announcement, I’ve read more than a few articles and posts by other writers and bloggers and quite frankly, I’ve been a bit astounded by some of the comments about her choice, some of which were really “out there” and I won’t repeat them or link to them. In case you missed it, you can read my thoughts about her announcement here. (Yeah, I’ll link to that!)

Of course, women’s bodies are scrutinized, analyzed, critiqued and criticized every day.

We like to blame the media for this. We like to blame TV and movie actresses along with other celebrities, who for some reason have come to represent what true beauty “should” look like. We like to blame the love ‘em or hate ‘em beauty pageants where judging women’s bodies is actually a requirement in order to pick a winner. We like to blame the male portion of the human species. We like to blame a lot of things.

But it seems women are just as guilty of this judging. Melissa Etheridge caught a fair amount heat for her recent judgmental comment in which she called Ms. Jolie’s decision “not brave at all” but rather one based on fear.

And then there’s the judging that goes on when a woman decides to for-go reconstruction following her mastectomy. I’ve had more than one reader tell me they had to convince their doctors they truly did not want reconstruction because come on, how could a woman choose such a thing, right?


I remember the very first time I felt judged physically. It was when someone, a family friend actually, asked me this dumb seemingly innocent question about my height:

“Why are you so tall when you’re the youngest of your sisters?”

I was asked this question when I was obviously at an impressionable age since I still remember it well and exactly how I felt upon hearing it. As an already awkward feeling pre-teen, I immediately felt being shorter must be a whole lot better.

If I had been the third sibling in line and a boy, I wonder if such a thing would have been asked of me. I bet not.

Yes, this judging of the female anatomy starts early and never really ends.

Is it the same for the boys and the men?

I don’t think it is, at least not to the same extent, and I’d like to know why.

What is up with all the judging of women’s bodies and decisions they choose to make about them?

Male or female, decisions we make about our bodies are ours alone to make.

And male or female, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Why do you think there is so much judging going on?

Do you think males are judged as harshly?

When have you felt judged based on your appearance?






Wednesday 30th of September 2015

I actually am too late to the party here, but...

There's a lot of misconceptions from the author in this post about men. Actually men are massively judged by society, but for partially different reasons. I am speaking as a man of not godly attractiveness or height btw.

As a man you are also judged on looks, and body (and height), but also add penis size, your social skills, your coolness, your success, your lifestyle, your level of sophistication, and your income. Probably also by your level of intelligence. Whether some of that is just my internalized rubbish or not I cannot tell you, but I have definitely felt the sting of all of those at times in my life.

When I was young enough to care I remember being told that my butt looked big, while my upper body was thin a couple of times. That did tie into my personal insecurities at the time and went into my impressionable mind.

The fact is though that at a certain point, once you have a couple of relationships under your belt, you get over some of that internal silliness, but then you get older and then other things stick out, like hair loss (ouch), grey hair, weight gain, and hair growth in all the wrong places, and I'd assume also sexual dysfunction would sting massively too.

My point isn't to say poor me, but just to highlight that it happens just as much in some men's heads as in some women's heads. I don't know the stats, but I do know that anorexia is on the rise for men these days, and also the Adonis complex (to look like buff male models). I personally cultivate a pleasant relationship with my own Adonis complex.

One saving grace for men as well as women is that you get over some of it as you age, and another one is that there is hair coloring, gyms - you can construct how you want your body to look, you can eat healthier (or diet), and if something is really a sore point like sticking out ears or hair loss or whatever, there is also reasonably priced surgery out there too. There are also plenty of youtube clips and other websites devoted to men's grooming, which is one of the few things that you can control day to day as a man. And there's therapy and books and life experience out there which a person could utilize and come to realize that people do come in all shapes and sizes, and that's kind of a unique and good thing about you.

But men aren't judged as much or as harshly? In the media perhaps... perhaps... but some men are internalizing the "male model" expectations out there perhaps just as much as women are, and a whole raft of other expectations. Moreso sometimes. You can perhaps turn the high expectations into a strength or let it destroy you from within, or maybe dull yourself to it.


Friday 2nd of October 2015

RNZ, Without a doubt men are judged based on their looks too. Sad, but true. I do not think it is quite as prevalent or as harsh as it is with women though. One example is the hair. A bald man, or a man with thinning hair is not looked upon the same way as a bald woman or a woman with thinning hair. This is just a fact. Thank you for sharing your important insights.

Carolyn Thomas

Sunday 11th of August 2013

I'm a bit late to the party here, but -- what a great post, Nancy!

I'm not at all surprised that female celebrities are judged (isn't that what Hollywood gossip magazines have always been all about?) Throw in the Red Carpet fashion-alysis ("What was she THINKING?") and the meat market reality of beauty pageants (and worse! worse! worse! those hideously obscene junior pageants for little girls!) and NO WONDER we grow up thinking it's open season on criticizing women's bodies.

When a dear friend of mine was a little girl, she made a comment one day to her mother about another friend's lovely pony tail. Her mother quickly interrupted: "Of course, with your BIG EARS, dear, you will NEVER be able to wear a pony tail like that!"

That little comment kick-started a lifelong self-consciousness about my friend's "big ears" (note: there's nothing wrong with her ears!)

Parents, be very careful about what you say (and don't say) about your daughter's appearance - they will never forget.


Sunday 11th of August 2013

Carolyn, There's no such thing as too late! That's a horrible comment your friend heard and isn't it amazing how you still remember it? Great advice you offer there to parents - well, to all of us really. We are all responsible for what comes out of our mouths and for the impact our words have on others, young and old alike. Thanks so much for weighing in on this, Carolyn.

Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

Sunday 11th of August 2013

[...] Meanwhile in the western world,  women  – or perhaps more accurately the Desperate Housewives/Real Housewives women I see on TV are spending money on turning back the years. I love Carolyn’s take on accepting the inevitability of ageing with grace and good humor. And although I shared it last week, it is worth sharing it again – Nancy’s take on Women And Their Bodies. [...]

Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

Sunday 11th of August 2013

[...] Why do we as women judge each other so harshly? Great question debated this week by Nancy’s Point. [...]


Wednesday 7th of August 2013

We are our own worst enemies. For some reason we as women tend to tear each other apart instead of being supportive to one and other especially in these kinds of situations. Angela Jolie is only one example, however due to her visibility she received so much much negative feedback for her decision Which was a personal choice. It was disturbing to read she did it for publicity Who goes through this for publicity when you have an amazing body to have your old breasts removed opt for ones that may not be as attractive. It's as though there is a jealousy factor involved that we are so concerned someone may look better have more and do more.We really need to foster relationships with each other and stop the "Ugly Vagina Envy" as one of my friends succinctly puts it.I have gone through it. It's not a pleasant experience to be talked about behind your back made fun of make you feel as though you are at fault. But I in my aging wisdom (lol) have come to understand so much is about self esteem issues what "THEY" think of themselves. When you are not feeling good about yourself what to do is reflect your anxiety on some one else. It is a definite form of bullying not only someone else but yourself from self loathing. We are conscious when we do it therefore you can't misplace blame. You control your own actions. Recently a friend has been making snide comments about someone we both know mutually, they are quite well to do both professionals my friend seems to be so envious and has tried unsuccessfully to sway my opinion of her I like her .. I am a very laid back easy going person I have gone through my own trials and tribulations- some more difficult than others. Some very recently that I am still recovering from .. I tend to have more male friends than female because we are not so stringently judged.....We as women need to stop reflect on what our actions may cost others be more accountable along with kinder to each other. Unless we walk in someone else's shoes who are we to judge... Love Alli..X


Wednesday 7th of August 2013

Alli, Sadly, you're right about women being their own worst enemies sometimes. Interesting insights you offer there about the bullying angle. I have not thought of things in quite that way before, but you might be on to something. And yes, for sure everyone should reflect a bit more on their own actions and attempt to treat others and themselves with a bit more kindness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alli.

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