The other day I was getting my monthly dose of pop culture, reading People magazine while getting a pedicure. A front cover teaser caught my eye with a thumbnail photo of Giuliana Rancic, and the quote “I know I’m too thin.” http://www.people.com/article/giuliana-rancic-admits-too-thin.
Now I admit I don’t really know who Giuliana Rancic is or why she is famous. All I know her as is, “that freakishly skinny woman on that ridiculous fashion show.” (Sorry E! News and the Fashion Police, your shows are just not my cup of tea.) But I was intrigued by the fact that one of the many super skinny Hollywood types was able to admit that she was too skinny. I expected some sad story about eating disorders and having to live up to the image and how size 6 is considered obese, blah blah. But that wasn’t the case. Rancic opened up about her struggle with breast cancer and medications she is taking that mess with her metabolism. She explained that she has scoliosis and suffered teasing and ridicule all her life because of jutting shoulder blades and a misshapen posture. She revealed details of her personal life that debunked many of my assumptions and made me feel, at least a little bit, sorry for her.
But mostly it made me think about how quickly we jump to conclusions about people. We make assumptions about why someone is the way they are or why they look the way they do and rarely take the time to listen to their story.
The woman at the soccer game I mentioned in my last post “Why Share Your Story?” , for example. I assumed she was just a grouchy, unfriendly person. She was a hurting, damaged, soul desperate to be free from the shame she’d carried for years. The homeless guy looking for a handout that we pass with a downward glance, we assume he is a drug addict trying to score his next hit. Which he very well may be. But why? How did he get there? Our coworker we try to avoid, because she does nothing but bitch and moan about the miseries of life while ordering another pair of shoes from Zappos, to be delivered to the office so her husband doesn’t find out. Why is she so unhappy?
What do others assume about us?
If we take the time to ask questions, listen to the stories, tell our own, we can stop assuming and start empathizing. We can learn to love more and judge less and let those around us know that we care about who they are, not the image they portray to the world.