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Would you let your friends judge you | subject yourself to judgement
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Come On, Eileen

January 4, 2012

My friend Eileen might be nuts. You must read this and tell me if I’m right.

On Monday – the day after New Years Day – while the guys gathered in the family room watching the Rose Bowl game, the girls gabbed over chardonnay about our annual desert trip. With football jeers and wild kids at our feet, the conversation turned and I hear Eileen say that she wants to gather a group of close girlfriends and have them anonymously write out on slips of paper what she should change about herself.

“Oh, hell no!” I shout. I ask why she would ever open herself to that sort of criticism. She doesn’t think that her friends will be critical though. Instead, helpful. Like tell her she needs to change the color of her hair or buy better fitting jeans. My brain works at rapid speed sometimes and I instantly envision throwing myself off a bridge after being subjected to such scrutiny.

Hilary Swank Made for TV movie poster
Her sister sided with me. And sometimes I think her and I share the same brain – or at least the same taste in terrible made-for-TV-movies. She starts to reference a flick from the ’90’s called “Dying to Belong” where pledges of a college sorority are made to walk around in hideously high wasted panties and matching bra sets as the sisters circle every inch of flab, cheese, and stretch mark on their asses. This, my friends, is why I never joined a sorority. I was scared straight.

Anyway, my friend Eileen is perfect the way she is but her idea is not. Do you have any desire to hear from your friends that your highlights look like “stripper stripes” or that you are not rocking those mom jeans? I’m not against someone suggesting to me that I should opt for a different pair of shoes instead of my go-to flip flops or that I should change up my lip gloss. But I would never ask for it. For someone like myself – with lifelong body image issues – I think it would be so severely detrimental to my mental well-being.

So is Eileen nuts? Or would you stand to be judged by your closest girlfriends?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer January 4, 2012 at 7:21 am

I think kind of nuts, but also kind of okay too. I’ve asked friends to tell me one word they would use to describe me. At the time I really wasn’t looking for props. I was actually expecting a lot of them to say “bitchy” or “moody,” but what I heard really made me feel good. I think every once in a while we need that. But only if we can take the good with the bad.

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 9:15 am

Well, thinking back I’ve asked people to summarize me in one word too and all came back with something positive. Isn’t it strange how we are so certain that our friends would offer up something harsh like “bitchy” or “moody” but we get “heart of gold” or “great sense of humor” instead.

Our friends aren’t going to say something worse than we already think about ourselves. We are our own worst critics, aren’t we?

Thanks for stopping by and taking time out to comment, Jennifer!

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Christina {Chrissy} Berry January 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

I wouldn’t do it.

Oh, I know there are things about me that need changed. I’m sure my friends and loved ones could point out things that haven’t even occurred to me. But to be honest, I’m just not sure my feelings wouldn’t be hurt by even the sweetest, best of intentions.

Your friend Eileen obviously has a lot of faith in her friends and a lot of trust in her own emotions. I envy her that.

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 9:18 am

Honestly, Chrissy, I’m so sensitive that I would be horribly embarrassed if someone pointed out spinach in my teeth. Taking that to another level and asking for friends to tell me my jeans are too tight. That’s off the charts.

Thanks for stopping in. MUAH!

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Wendy Wise January 4, 2012 at 9:16 am

I’m sure Eileen is a great girl, but….she’s nuts!! Why would any one want to subject themselves to that? Its slightly masochistic.

Not only would she be opening up her friendships to conflict later, but she’d be subjecting herself took hurt feelings. She must have complete confidence that her friends’ suggestions would be nothing but constructive…and though most would be, I am sure some would come of as mean. I know that if I asked my friends to do this for me, I’d be hearing things I essentially already know about myself, and really have no desire of seeing them confirmed as the concrete
thoughts of my friends.

Eileen is one tough cookie and that is quite admirable.

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

It’s totally masochistic, right?

Yep, I’d never want to open that door with my friends. And what if they were wrong? Like what if one said “your hair color is all wrong” – but what makes them an expert, or what if I really liked my hair color and now I’m second guessing my choice.

I agree Eileen is tough. What’s funny is that whenever you compliment her she usually says “oh, shut up” or “you’re lying.” I think that speaks volumes of her intentions.

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ChiMomWriter January 4, 2012 at 9:34 am

I’d much rather have one-on-one conversation about things that I’d like to change, style-wise or whatever the area, and be able to focus on what area I’m really looking for critique. Otherwise, those slips of paper would stick in my head, helpful or not, and I have enough noise going on up there.

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 9:41 am

“I have enough noise going on up there.” Amen.

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Nicole January 4, 2012 at 10:05 am

I think it is asking for trouble. What if something comes up that she’s genuinely happy with herself about? Why add one more thing to stress about? Shouldn’t your friends already be suggesting things or having these conversations with you if they cared already? I know in my group of girlfriends we’d never tolerate one of our nearest and dearest looking or acting poorly. It’s welcomed and part of our dynamics, but only out in the open not anonymously, “Oh no! You cannot wear that!” or “Friend, you’re starting to look like Pauly Walnuts with the gray hair.” (Yes, and the last one was said to me and I laughed uncontrollably and did something about it.)

Part of me also thinks it’s also kind of selfish making everything…me, me, me. Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

The bigger question here is who the heck is Pauly Walnuts?

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Deirdre January 8, 2012 at 4:35 am
Joann Woolley January 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

I don’t think I’d ever ask for that – I like to sort of think I can figure out my flaws and work on them without the added emotion of knowing someone else had suggested it. If we call it out on ourselves, i.e. New Years Resolutions you can get support by people saying it is a great idea to tackle that – why ask our friends to write it down and annonymously provide that kind of feedback.I just couldn’t.

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Yep, me either. Thanks for stopping in Joann!

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Galit Breen January 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Ooh, good question! I *think* that I’d opt out of the activity.

{But I also think that my friends would rock it. No stripper stripes pointed out or anything! Hee! :)}

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Paige January 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Definitely not. I have the type of friends that can be brutally honest with me when the time is right. When I’m upset, they can/will tell me if I’m overreacting, if I was the one at fault to cause a problem, or when they feel I need to hear that I’m not fulfilling their needs in my half of the friendship, etc. And I can/will do the same for them. It’s extremely nice to have those types of relationships, but I think that type of honesty should come during the right circumstances instead of just saying “You’re bitchy when…” Live and let live, and allow the honesty to come when it is easiest to point out.

I think asking for it during this type of scenario would give off the vibe that your friends that say negative things ALWAYS think these negative things about you, which I would bet 99% of the time is inaccurate. They wouldn’t be your friends if they did, right?

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Right, Paige? I’d be worried too that they were always thinking negative things about me. It’s so self-destructive. Thanks for commenting!

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julie gardner January 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I’m with you, lady.

Not only would I cry if I found out their true feelings about my beloved stripper stripes and mom jeans, but I’d probably pass out if I had to write something “constructive” about my friends that they’d read afterward.

And this isn’t to say I won’t offer advice that was specifically requested of me.
Like, if my friend asked “Are these jeans flattering?” I could probably come up with a gentle way to say the fit could use some work if they did in fact need work.

But coming up with stuff on my OWN to critique? No way.

I mean, I’m good about informing friends of food in their teeth or unzipped zippers.
But I’d never tell them they need to WHITEN their teeth or lose the bell bottoms.
Nope.

p.s. Flip flops are never wrong.

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Wendy January 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I gotta side with you on the flip flops. Thanks for sharing, Julie!

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QueenieCarly January 4, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Actually, I don’t hate it. Provided you include only REALLY close girlfriends, the kind you can REALLY trust, I think it’s doubtful that anything truly harmful would be said. No matter how honest we are with one another, we still take great care to say things softly when it comes to the friends we love the most.

Was it specifically physical attributes she specified in the changes? Doing a quick exercise while reading your post, I rattled through the things that I would tell my best friends and none of it was about their bodies or their style (or lack thereof!) It was all about how they conduct themselves, how I think they could take better care of themselves or better plan to get what they’re looking for.

All that said, it could go really wrong, really fast. Disastrously so. Yikes!

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Maegan (@ByndTheBandaids) January 5, 2012 at 12:04 am

Pass. I would be scared shitless what someone would say. I don’t care about a drunken pic of me face down in the gutter, but to have a circle of friends anonymously write – you would be better if you change X? Oh, hell no. I like to obliviously think that all my friends think well of me. Not wonder what they are thinking I should change in the backs of their minds. Also, I’m kind of a to-each-their-own person, so if you like your mom jeans and flip flops and skunk stripe hair, then cool. Because I sure like mine!

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Margot January 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

You know, I’m with Eileen! I would do it – anonymously, of course. Maybe I’m paranoid that there’s something about me that my friends notice that I just don’t. But as a gal on a constant self-improvement kick, I would love it. Mind you I might not actually DO all the suggestions, but as least I’d know what they are!

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