It started simple enough. One of those new Year, new you calls from a performance coach peddling their services. As someone interested in continually getting better, I decided to join. The messaging was pretty standard about the importance of mindset and best practices.
Midway through, I found myself feeling triggered. She spoke of a specific “client” she worked with who had a victim mindset around being a woman of color. She cited that perhaps, her inability to get ahead was due to her weight. As an overweight woman of color, it felt relevant and shook me out of my otherwise drifting attention. When I hear statements such as this, as inflaming as they may be, intended or not, I try to examine my beliefs. Hence the reason for writing this.
Weight discrimination is real, and unlike racial discrimination, it isn’t legally protected. I reflected on my past experiences. I’ve seen more overweight women in leadership than women of color. It’s anecdotal. I don’t have solid numbers or anything.
Since she wasn’t a woman of color, she may have decided to choose that lens because she doesn’t know the privilege of missing out on the harmful interactions based on bias. We have the stories, whether we choose to share them or not. After analyzing why she’d say that. I made peace with her viewpoint. We’re all entitled to our opinion. Since she was in a room full of people with a significant portion of them minorities of some sort, she’s alienating part of her audience to whom she’s trying to sell her services. It’s her loss.
That’s okay. She’s probably not the best fit for us anyway.
Acknowledging injustice exists while advising a client on a proactive approach makes sense. Using the emotionally charged label of “victim mindset” casts judgment and doesn’t validate the genuine obstacles that someone of color has likely encountered. It also removes safety from the conversation. It’s like calling someone who may not be aware of their unconscious bias a racist. It’s a quick way to discredit someone and limit further discussion. Discussions that probably should take place, respectfully.
She probably said it off the cuff, utterly unaware of how her words led me to write this after living rent-free in my head for a couple of hours. It reminds me of the famous saying that we seek therapy for the people in our lives who need it but won’t get it. I don’t know if this helps anyone or if it is just rantings of someone who needed to vent before focusing on why I joined the call in the first place, to become better. I felt it needed to be said—words matter. Now, off to focus on the better, ya’ll. Stay lovely.