By Shellie Farrugia
Minding my shopping list AND my business, I was enjoying a self-tour in the produce section of a local grocery store. The tomatoes were plump, the music was nice, the lettuce looked crisp and then BLAMMO! Out of nowhere, a woman I’d never met came up and quietly inquired, “You know those cherries in your cart?”
I replied, “Yes, they are just over there,” and pointed out the display to her.
“Do you realize that they are NOT organic?” She retorted in a disappointing tone.
“Yes, I don’t need organic, but my husband wants some cherries.” The look on her face reminded me of mine when a misstep has smeared dog poo on my shoe and tracked it into my kitchen.
“They are NOT organic!” She repeated as if I were a hard-of-hearing, demented, elderly woman incapable of comprehending this horrible fact.
For the first time in my life, I’d been food shamed! Not for drinking a breve, full fat latte, and not for stuffing my face with jellybeans and popcorn at the same time, but for buying produce! And this woman wasn’t my mother, my sister or my therapist! (Two of which I don’t have, but for purposes of illustration, let’s pretend).
And to put a sharper, more poignant point on my point, a friend was recently sharing a story about her daughter. Her sweet, shy, 12 year-old girl still enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls. Great! Many of us did.
Two years ago, she was so excited that a school friend was coming for a play date. Things were going perfectly; swimming in the pool, snacks on the patio,
a board game in the playroom. And then her friend said, “What’s your Instagram?” My friend’s daughter doesn’t have one. And then her guest noticed the Barbies. “You still play with Barbies?” She asked in a derogatory tone.
The following day at school, the girl was questioned by other classmates and made fun of for her lack of social media and love of Barbie play. She wasn’t harming anyone with the things she did and didn’t do, but the judgement and shaming of others did its damage.
She came home from school that day, boxed up her favorite dolls and asked her mom to donate them.
My shaming in the grocery store wasn’t a turning point, but this young girl’s was. The natural course of life forces all of us to grow up, transition to the next maturity level, and take on bigger responsibilities, but does shaming someone into another’s perceived “better” choices benefit anyone?
There is considerable pressure for academic achievement for our kids. I believe that one of the main problems we are seeing with this “entitled” generation stems from parents. In an effort to make their children’s Iives less complicated, parents have actually made them more so in not insisting on considerate social responsibilities. Now more than ever, we should be teaching our children that it’s wrong to judge others for things that have no influence on our personal lives.