The Shaming and Judgment of Others’ Lifestyles and Choices

We as a society, have a problem with shaming others and not seeing the good in the actions others take.

We shame others for even taking the smallest of steps in the right direction, because they aren’t going far enough for us.

It is the shaming and guilt tripping of people to not live the right lifestyle in the right way that we approve, that really gets my goat.

The Gay Pride Parade of 2011 in Toronto that just happened on July 3rd is one great example.

Many people gave me or my family strange looks when we said: We’re going to the Pride Parade this weekend!

They can’t understand that while none of us are gay, we appreciate people embracing who they are and celebrating something that is so universally hidden, illegal and hated in so many countries.

Another example is when I watched a documentary about Chocolate: The Bitter Truth, and it was eye opening for me because I hadn’t seen anything like that before.

I knew it existed for sugar and coffee beans, but it never occurred to me that chocolate would also be in the same category, if you will.

(Don’t ask me why. It just never came to my mind.)

Yet when I mentioned this to others, I felt a sense of self-righteous attitude rise up in them.

“Of COURSE it happens with chocolate. How could you not know that?

So now you won’t eat chocolate, but you’re still eating meat and doing all of these [insert things I could be improving upon]”

They pull out all of these shame sticks on my choices of any of the following:

  • owning a car at all
  • driving a car but not driving it much
  • taking public transportation instead of biking
  • owning new things and *gasp* liking them

…and on and on.

All I can say to anyone is: I am trying to do the best that I can with what I can, and I think I’ve done well so far.

I can tell you without a doubt that 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about eating vegetarian or vegan, even once a week!

For the record, I KNOW what I am eating but sometimes I may not know exactly how it traveled there or how it was sourced.

I’ve seen the videos and I’ve seen animals slaughtered or butchered.

I enjoy eating offal — tripe, tendons, liver, tongue, tail.. anything that many people don’t think is edible.

I know fish doesn’t come in neat, pre-packaged sections that are evenly cut, and I know what goes into ground meat.

It’s discouraging to me and to others to hear or read this kind of guilt tripping to nag about the other aspects of our life, instead of celebrating or appreciating the change that we have taken thus far.

“It’s my life, not yours”

Frankly, my lifestyle as it is, is very different for many people.

Some find it curious, others look at me strangely,  some even insult me.

But once in a while you get others who find it cool and even interesting enough to change their own lifestyle, even just a little.

I’m okay with all of the above, but the main thing I am very conscious of, is not to shove it down others’ throats.

I don’t want to shame anyone or make anyone feel guilty for anything that they do.

It’s your life, not mine, as it is my life and not yours.

I just want to show you what I do and you can do what you want with the information.

All the things I do to inform myself and change my life might seem small and piddly to people who have been living self-righteously for so many years, but they are big steps to me, just as they are big steps to others to think twice about buying something that will clutter their home.

So this shaming of not living the “right” or “proper” life, annoys me and is somewhat discouraging, not encouraging.

Shaming doesn’t work on everyone, people just tune you out if you start to nag and become self-righteously preachy.

Who’s to say what is the correct way of living?

If you really want to take this logic of living “correctly” to the end, the final answer should be to either become a hermit in the mountains living off the land or the most morbid option of all — to commit suicide.

It sounds extreme, perhaps even shockingly rude, but it’s true.

It means you would have absolutely no carbon footprint, you wouldn’t bother anyone else with your choices, you wouldn’t be killing animals for meat, you wouldn’t be consuming anything else and so on.

Rationally it makes sense, but heck I don’t even want to get close to either option, but frankly speaking, it is nigh IMPOSSIBLE to buy anything where absolutely NO slave labour has been used in any part or making of the items.

Even if you buy the cloth and make your own clothes, that cloth was probably made in a plant where they pay their workers $1 a day. Unless you grow your own cotton, pick it, process it and then make clothes out of it… you will never know whose hands touched it.

As it stands, I’ve already made choices in the right direction such as:

  • not using laundry detergent 99% of the time
  • driving only if I have to, but right now I’m car-free*
  • eating vegetarian/vegan 2-3 times a week or more
  • not spending mindlessly and contributing to the creation of new things
  • using more natural products (love me some argan oil!)

*Actually, I just donated my car to the Cancer Society, so I’m car-free now until I move, which is fine in a city like Toronto. I will have to buy a car when I move to Dallas however.

Yet I still make not-so-eco-friendly choices like wanting to travel the world in an airplane, but when I do, I make small choices like not letting maids come into my room to change my sheets or towels daily (what for?), or taking public transportation almost exclusively when we travel.

Nobody wants to be preached at, and you can catch far more flies with honey mixed with diplomacy than with forcing your agenda down people’s throats.

Don’t let others shame or discourage you into the choices that you make

Any step you make into a new direction in your life, big or small, is a step, nonetheless.

It’s encouraging for me and others to hear about such things, and I just wish people would stop preaching like they’re the all-knowing authorities on how to live The Best and Right Life.

As Dr. Seuss said it best: It’s really just mind over matter — I don’t mind and you don’t matter.

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.