Recognizing my own bias or prejudice .....

Posted by ellerbracke @ellerbracke, Sat, Aug 31 5:14pm

I know I am very guilty of classifying people in general, and regarding weight in particular. Living in the bible/heart attack/ diabetes belt, it simply blows my mind how many obese people I see every single day when out and about. Granted, fewer of those at Dillard’s than Walmart. Still, in addition to being concerned, I am also judging those people. I know I should not, but how in the world can someone get that fat? It would take years of dedicated overeating to reach that. No, I really don’t think that all of them have a medical issue, seeing what’s in their grocery carts. Someone help me get a less judgmental attitude when I’ve been semi-denying myself all those chips and cookies and fries for decades?? I live and eat well, but treats should be treats, not daily food.

@ayeshasharma

Hi @ellerbracke! I'm a little late to the table but I thought I'd chime in to respond to your original post. I've definitely had my fair share of prejudiced beliefs and also grew up in the good old Bible Belt (I say, with sarcasm and love).

It's really tough to not only let go of prejudiced beliefs but to GENUINELY understand why you should. If someone is highly overweight and we also see them making bad eating choices in front of us, we might wonder, why are they doing this to themselves?

I think there are a lot of reasons why people make choices that we don't understand. I'm a thin person and I don't understand how fat people navigate life, but I do know that the world isn't built for them. Airplane seats, bus seats, train seats are for thin people like me, and our culture shames fat people, characterizing them as ugly/monstrous/etc. I'm convinced that the key to beating prejudice isn't so much to understand every little reason as to why people do what they do, but to have empathy for them, whatever circumstance they may be in.

May be easier said than done, but as a LGBT person, I try and translate my perspective to others. I hate when people ask me: why, why, why? Why are you gay? Why do you prefer this type of hair, or this type of lifestyle? Why not something else? When I speak to people who don't need to understand why I make the choices I do, it feels like a breath of fresh air. I feel like that in itself is empathy.

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@ayeshasharma
Hi,

Empathy is the key word in your post. Let me say that I am flabbergasted that, in today’s world, someone would ask you why you are gay. I can’t imagine how you respond to that or if you feel it is necessary to do so, or how often that occurs.
I still get amazed when someone in my age bracket (78) says to me , in a low voice…he (she) is gay or he(she) is biracial…..like no one should overhear what they just said. I just sat say yeah…and….? Then they get embarrassed.

But people are clueless. Not that this was prejudice, but once, about 10 years ago, when flying alone…I told one of the airline personnel that I was extremely hard of hearing and won’t hear if my row is called to board. They did this in groups. She asked me if I needed a wheelchair. Really…I just smiled..didn’t have to heart for one of my usual retorts.

And yes, the world is not made to accommodate overweight or obese individuals. I often wonder how they feel in certain situations.

Regards from FL Mary

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@ayeshasharma

Hi @ellerbracke! I'm a little late to the table but I thought I'd chime in to respond to your original post. I've definitely had my fair share of prejudiced beliefs and also grew up in the good old Bible Belt (I say, with sarcasm and love).

It's really tough to not only let go of prejudiced beliefs but to GENUINELY understand why you should. If someone is highly overweight and we also see them making bad eating choices in front of us, we might wonder, why are they doing this to themselves?

I think there are a lot of reasons why people make choices that we don't understand. I'm a thin person and I don't understand how fat people navigate life, but I do know that the world isn't built for them. Airplane seats, bus seats, train seats are for thin people like me, and our culture shames fat people, characterizing them as ugly/monstrous/etc. I'm convinced that the key to beating prejudice isn't so much to understand every little reason as to why people do what they do, but to have empathy for them, whatever circumstance they may be in.

May be easier said than done, but as a LGBT person, I try and translate my perspective to others. I hate when people ask me: why, why, why? Why are you gay? Why do you prefer this type of hair, or this type of lifestyle? Why not something else? When I speak to people who don't need to understand why I make the choices I do, it feels like a breath of fresh air. I feel like that in itself is empathy.

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@ayeshasharma Really? "Why are you gay?" That's like asking me why do I have (had mostly) freckles and red hair! Even the Catholic Church says that God made people that way, it is not a choice. I am amazed that in this day and age people still think it is a choice.
It breaks my heart that one of my daughter's friends who is a Lesbian has been disowned by her parents. When she got married they would not go to the wedding. I will never understand that.
JK

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@ayeshasharma

Hi @ellerbracke! I'm a little late to the table but I thought I'd chime in to respond to your original post. I've definitely had my fair share of prejudiced beliefs and also grew up in the good old Bible Belt (I say, with sarcasm and love).

It's really tough to not only let go of prejudiced beliefs but to GENUINELY understand why you should. If someone is highly overweight and we also see them making bad eating choices in front of us, we might wonder, why are they doing this to themselves?

I think there are a lot of reasons why people make choices that we don't understand. I'm a thin person and I don't understand how fat people navigate life, but I do know that the world isn't built for them. Airplane seats, bus seats, train seats are for thin people like me, and our culture shames fat people, characterizing them as ugly/monstrous/etc. I'm convinced that the key to beating prejudice isn't so much to understand every little reason as to why people do what they do, but to have empathy for them, whatever circumstance they may be in.

May be easier said than done, but as a LGBT person, I try and translate my perspective to others. I hate when people ask me: why, why, why? Why are you gay? Why do you prefer this type of hair, or this type of lifestyle? Why not something else? When I speak to people who don't need to understand why I make the choices I do, it feels like a breath of fresh air. I feel like that in itself is empathy.

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@ayeshasharma What a breath of fresh air you bring to this conversation. I too want to have a button that is a bigger heart to press! Thank you for reminding us all that it is ALWAYS better to take the path that is inclusive… not exclusive.

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@ellerbracke you're so right. The first thing we see is not the content of a book but its cover. And there's no way we're going to be able to re-train the course of our mental dialogue without being aware of it, which you've done in this post. So many people won't give their negative judgments a second thought. They might feel more entitled to it if anything, but to ask, "how can I change it?" and actually work on catching yourself when you're thinking negatively–that's the moneymaker (haha).

I've been living in South Africa for the past year or so. The other day, I found myself thinking about how the flooring repairs in my apartment have been taking forever (still not done after a pipe burst 6 months back). I thought, "this situation might've been dealt with a while back if I were renting an apartment in the US." I was raising up the efficiency/reliability of one country while putting down that same quality in the country I'm living in now. I love so many aspects of being in South Africa, but I've found myself making these comparisons repeatedly and about a variety of different things (like how in the United States we have Vlasic sour pickles but you can't find them here).

But in that moment in thinking about the floors, I stopped myself, and thought, "seriously, what is the point in making these comparisons? It's not bringing me to do anything productive and it's also not bringing me to gain a deeper understanding of the situation I'm in now." And I wasn't criticizing myself but just critiquing that mental pattern that had become a habit for me.

I think a lot of us have these negative mental cycles that are instilled in us, but they certainly don't need to define us. Thank you so much for bringing this topic to light so we can discuss more productive ways of thinking together.

PS: I made homemade Vlasic style pickles the other way and they were amazing!!

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@imallears @contentandwell @debbraw you all make this community so unique in showing openness and acceptance <3

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@ayeshasharma

@imallears @contentandwell @debbraw you all make this community so unique in showing openness and acceptance <3

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@ayeshasharma
Hello,

Not everyone has your introspective awareness. I suspect it has a lot to do with being subject to bias and prejudice yourself. I see more tolerance and acceptance from my gay friends, my friends who are in biracial marriages and my disabled friends.

I would like to say that maturity and education brings tolerance but that’s not always the case. It’s also hard to break away from the rigid mindset of your parents. This is where education is crucial. I see more tolerance and acceptance in my children and grandchildren than in my parents family. Let’s hope we can keep passing this down to future generations.

So great to hear from someone who seems so young yet so wise. Namaste😀

Regards from FL Mary

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@imallears I am just now seeing this. I think perhaps it is related to that. I also think I had a certain astonishment toward injustice from a young age, which has only grown over time.

It's interesting what you're saying about education. And I think you're so right about breaking away from cultural perspectives. Learning sometimes comes more from experience than formal lectures/training/etc, and I think positive role models are such a huge part of that. I'm curious–what do you think is up with the generational differences we're seeing today? On the note of gender violence, I've connected with a lot of older (than me) women about how they have had to endure rough circumstances but it just isn't/wasn't culturally acceptable or financially possible for them to demand better for themselves or otherwise not be subject to it.

It's great to hear from people who care to engage on topics like this. It makes me so happy 😀

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@ellerbracke @imallears @debbraw @contentandwell I came across this video the other day and I thought you all might find the different perspectives interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsDLOuXSy7k

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@ayeshasharma

@ellerbracke @imallears @debbraw @contentandwell I came across this video the other day and I thought you all might find the different perspectives interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsDLOuXSy7k

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@ayeshasharma Your posts are very thought provoking.

When I was a younger, working person in a professional job I very definitely saw a lot of gender bias. When I think of it now I’m appalled and so glad that my daughter doesn’t have to go through as much as I did, but I don’t think it’s entirely gone. You would not believe some of what I went through. I was in IT, which back then was male-dominated.

As a person who has gone from being extremely overweight to now not being overweight (still do have a BMI slightly in the overweight range) I also know the prejudice against fat people. I really wish I had the will-power to lose weight when I was younger but I didn’t. Pregnancy and being a stay-at-home mom was not good for my weight.
I was gradually losing weight, mostly because I knew it was bad for my heart and both of my non-overweight parents died from heart problems in their 60s. When I was diagnosed with cirrhosis from fatty liver I was really hit with a bomb! I then put much more attention into working out and losing weight. So now, when I see young people who are grossly overweight I want to shake them! Not because of how they look, people can still be very pretty when they are overweight, plus a person’s value should not be based on their looks. In fact I think my face looked better at a higher weight, but because I am all too aware of the health risks I knew I needed to lose. .
Yes, many overweight people choose to be that way but I wonder if they were more aware of the health risks they might lose weight. I knew it was bad for my heart but I had no idea about the other risks. I think doctors should make their overweight patients aware of ALL of the risks but I think they don’t because they are afraid they will lose that person as a patient.
JK

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@contentandwell your perspective really illuminates some of the realities of this–that it's important to find a balance between showing acceptance and also caring enough to educate the overall population about health risks so we don't end up with a non-critical point of view

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@contentandwell thank you for sharing your experience. I don't think gender based violence/bias in the workplace is gone at all, but I assume it has evolved over time. I hear it is still bad in tech/IT :/

I work remotely so I don't experience workplace prejudice in any physical setting, though the reality of it pervades through digital realms too.

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@ayeshasharma

@ellerbracke @imallears @debbraw @contentandwell I came across this video the other day and I thought you all might find the different perspectives interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsDLOuXSy7k

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@ayeshasharma – Very interesting video. To echo a little of what @contentandwell talked about, I thought it was interesting that I didn't hear any questions that related to health – e.g., do you think your weight affects your health? or your ability to participate in healthy social activities? It seemed to focus entirely on attractiveness – acceptance of body image – etc. I guess, if I had to come down on one side or the other, I think I would view extreme obesity in the same way I would view addiction to anything – drugs, alcohol, nicotine. It's not healthy, it limits your life choices, and it shortens your life expectancy. I would try to help my children or family members overcome a food addiction that resulted in obesity in the same way I would try to help them overcome a drug, tobacco, or alcohol addiction. I wouldn't love them any less, but I would want them to be as strong and healthy as possible.

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@debbraw I love that

Here is a video with some of the same participants, in conversation with fitness enthusiasts. Health is discussed quite a bit here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVZJFULZVfA

It's interesting–I guess I didn't realize that a number of the participants would come forth speaking about health diagnosis/mental health issues that have contributed to weight gain.

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@ayeshasharma

@contentandwell thank you for sharing your experience. I don't think gender based violence/bias in the workplace is gone at all, but I assume it has evolved over time. I hear it is still bad in tech/IT :/

I work remotely so I don't experience workplace prejudice in any physical setting, though the reality of it pervades through digital realms too.

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@ayeshasharma My husband was a manager in IT so what I know is through him. The VP of that area was a well-respected woman.

When I worked in IT – I retired from it in 1980 when my son was born – the bias was incredibly blatant. I had a very good salary for that time and I was very experienced with good professional credentials, but they brought in a guy to share my office with a year of experience and paid him $5000 more than what I was making, which at that time was huge difference. In another job where the guys were regularly paid more than the women, I was told that guys needed to make more money than women did! I bristled back then, but now when I think about those incidents and more I just shake my head in disbelief.
I will have to ask my daughter if she feels a gender bias. I know when she was interviewing for jobs a couple of years ago she chose to not wear her wedding ring, she was fairly newly married. She said if she wore it would hurt her chances because they would think she would be “popping out babies”.
JK

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@ayeshasharma

@imallears I am just now seeing this. I think perhaps it is related to that. I also think I had a certain astonishment toward injustice from a young age, which has only grown over time.

It's interesting what you're saying about education. And I think you're so right about breaking away from cultural perspectives. Learning sometimes comes more from experience than formal lectures/training/etc, and I think positive role models are such a huge part of that. I'm curious–what do you think is up with the generational differences we're seeing today? On the note of gender violence, I've connected with a lot of older (than me) women about how they have had to endure rough circumstances but it just isn't/wasn't culturally acceptable or financially possible for them to demand better for themselves or otherwise not be subject to it.

It's great to hear from people who care to engage on topics like this. It makes me so happy 😀

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@ayeshasharma
Hi,
What a topic…wow. Re the generational difference. I’m not sure all the younger generation is more tolerant that prior generations. I think there may be a kind of apathy towards discrimination even though they seem to be more accepting.

Growing up I experienced gender bias big time. I was aware of how wrong it was but did not know what to do about it other than be uncomfortable, perplexed, angry at times. There was no internet, no books that I was aware of no media to glean information from. If my brother was alive when I wanted to go to college, he would have gone, not me. My dad had bias…gender and race.
When I said I wanted to go to college,he said okay if you become a nurse or teacher…neither one of which I was interested in. I worked a year and then picked a school and my parents paid for the rest. I learned a lot about strong and weak females. In my first job ,I found that a male who was doing what I was doing was being paid more. I went to the head of personnel told him the salary and then got the raise. Why did I do that ? I didn’t accept the status quo.

My ex husband, God rest his soul, loved strong women and appreciated intelligence in women…in anyone. I thrived in that atmosphere. My children grew up in that environment. My daughter and granddaughter are all strong smart women and my son and grandsons respect and admire strong women. We are lucky.

I believe that each generation , because so much is written and talked about it , has developed a greater acceptance of diversity. Yet there is the apathy I mentioned. I’m not sure any of them would crusade or go on marches for equality although they would defend anyone they knew personally.

Where children are raised and what schools they attend and whom their parents associate is a huge factor. I was raised in a diverse neighborhood but my dad had racial bias….not my mom. We moved to “better” neighborhoods. My children were raised in a predominately white neighborhood and went to predominantly white schools. I don’t remember any people of color in our circle of friends nor any of my children’s friends being other than white. I do remember loving our gay friends however. Yet our children and their children are more accepting of race than my parents generation. The bias I saw in my family..aunts, uncles etc…had the opposite effect on me and also my husbands family.

Sexual preference in my children’s growing up experience didn’t seem to matter. How did that happen? They knew gay people and liked who they knew. They didn’t really know people of color and have very few friends who are that diverse. Yet they have no racial bias. My oldest grandson grew up with a best friend who was adopted and is African American. He doesn’t think anything about that. He would defend him to the death but would he get politically involved? Don’t think so.

Women who didn’t and still don’t work outside the home are financially entrapped in abusive relationships. It’s easier to stay, even in todays world. I saw that particularly in a friends second marriage a couple,of,years ago.

There’s hope but bias of any kind will never be eradicated. We all run across minorities who do more harm than good because They are biased themselves it’s not one sided. This could go on forever and I hope you understood part of what I was trying to say.

The fat video I did not like. They seemed easily swayed by the others in their group….changing positions on the floor . Didn’t look like a good cross section of people with different opinions. One girl called everyone who was not fat “skinny” Another said she didn’t want to exercise 8 hours a day.
Come one…that’s not bias? Who exercises 8 hours a day. They were making excuses.

My thoughts.

FL Mary

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