Recently a pastor gave a sermon where he said he thinks women need to dress a certain way and be a certain weight in order to please men. He also made jokes regarding female sexuality and women.
The remarks are derogatory and a reflection of an outdated and ignorant temperament towards women. The comments also stem from an abusive mentality that belittles women based on their appearance in an attempt to overpower and control them.
Unfortunately, women are taught to focus on what men think. So comments like this can hurt. But we can reject this narrative by building self-empowerment.
We aren’t asking for much. Basic human decency is a basic request.
That’s what I did, and my entire life changed for the better.
So now I want to help get you empowered.
Because when women are empowered, not only will comments like this will be rejected from the cultural narrative, the entire world will benefit. It will force the boys with this mentality to change. The abuse will stop.
Also, because when you are empowered you will feel good about yourself. And I want you to feel good about yourself. You deserve it. You deserve so much more than the comments that the pastor is giving, or the society with a mentality that cultivated them.
Women deserve empowerment. You deserve empowerment.
And women supporting women in their empowerment creates a formidable force. We are not only changing the narrative for the women who come after us. We are honoring the women who paved the way before us.
Mindset Shifts for Empowerment
Here are 10 mindset shifts you can use to respond to occurrences like the pastor’s comments (because sadly they happen far too often) to gain self-empowerment and act from a confident and empowered place.
1. Instead of Reacting, Reflect
Does this bother you? If so, why? Really think about it. And after you answer the question, ask yourself why again.
Why does this bother you?
“Because he is making comments about women’s appearance and it’s hurtful.”
“Its hurtful because we live in a society that is obsessed with external looks and it’s not healthy.”
“Because an obsession with the external is creating a place where people are being judged by their weight and not being appreciated for who they are.”
Continue to ask yourself why until you uncover the true cause.
For me, yes, this bothers me. Why? Because it reflects a culture that dehumanizes and objectifies women. It’s not about the pastor, it’s about the mentality that is slowly going away, but it still widespread. Not only an outdated and idiotic mentality, it’s a sign of low intelligence getting a podium and outlet to speak. I mean, common, it’s 2021.
It also bothers me because we deserve better leadership, and becasue he is generalizing. There are men out there who do not think this way. This pastor has a distorted view or reality and is trying to forward it. Messages like this hold us back as a society. Even though he is getting backlash, this could still negatively impact people who heard the sermon or who are hearing about it now. That really bothers me.
2. Remind Yourself That a Stage and a Mic Do Not Equal Power
Just because someone has a stage, and a mic does not mean they have a valuable message. Same thing with people on TV. And same thing with people of “power”. They are only on that stage because we put them there.
Remind yourself that we can take them down too. We have the power. The pastor already got suspended. Remember, we have the power to determine the worthiness of their message. And we can find it unworthy even if other people do not.
His message was particularly annoying because it is a distorted reality that he is trying to forward. Don’t buy into the distortion just because it was given a mic.
3. Put Focus on the Boy Making the Comments
When someone talks about weight or looks, a gut shot response may be to focus on how you look or your weight. But instead of focusing on what the person says, focus on what they think and what kind of person thinks that way. So, instead of saying “a pastor said women need to be thin to keep a man.” Say, “a pastor said he thinks women need to be thin to keep a man.”
“He thinks” are the opportune words here. Because what he says is what he thinks. It is not reality. Again, his distorted reality. And we can flat out reject what he thinks.
So when I hear he thinks that way, I want to know how slim the pastor is. Is he really into health and fitness? I also want to know why he was given a platform.
I am not thinking about my weight or myself as a person or if men find me attractive. I want to know where this person is coming from. Which leads us to the next one:
4. Consider Why He Thinks That Way
There are many reasons someone can think a certain way. Here, I’m leaning towards three potential causes.
a) A product of his backwards environment, he is completely misguided and was sold and believes a lie. He has a distorted reality.
b) He is self-conscious about his weight, so he wants other people to be self-conscious about theirs too. Remember, misery LOVES company.
c) He feels emasculated and wants some type of power and control. So he is trying to be powerful by using an abuse technique to control women and determine how they should live.
Either way, it’s not healthy or productive and the comments are a sign of an abusive mentality that is outdated and will not be accepted.
5. Watch Out for the Generalizations
Did he do a petition of every man in the world? No. He’s a boy who made up a statement based off of the distorted reality he has.
Remind yourself that not all men are this way. There are men out there who are not concerned about weight. There are men out there who are not as vain as this pastor. I do not want you to miss out on a great man because you are caught up in the opinion of a boy.
Remember Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers? Make sure to remind yourself that there are people out there who do not share the pastor’s limited and abusive mentality. This will not only empower you, it will keep you from taking in the distorted reality of the pastor.
He is also generalizing by saying that women should look like Melania Trump. Perhaps that is his preference. It’s really narcissistic and ridiculous to think that everyone has the same preference as he does.
Make note, I am being careful not to generalize this pastor and his entire being on these comments. He may be an agreeable person in other areas of his life. Who knows?
Really, it’s not about him. It’s about me having compassion for others because we need to have compassion for others to have compassion for ourselves. People make mistakes. And we need to be empowered to not allow their mistakes to negatively effect us.
6. Realize You Are Only Here to Impress Yourself
I see it happen a lot. The entitlement that some boys have where they think women are here to impress them. You are not here to impress anyone. Only yourself.
And you do not want to look like someone else either. You look like you and there is nothing wrong with it. Own it! Work it!
“Hope this is what you had in mind, ’cause this is what you’re getting.”Tool -Ticks and Leeches
I will not lie and tell you you’re perfect. You’re not. I’m not. No one is. Perfection is a lie. Lies are not the goal. Empowerment and confidence is the goal.
Your body is yours, and it is not meant to impress. Focus on what you like and what you want your body to look like because you want it — not because someone told you they do.
I once had a dude tell me he didn’t like my short hair. I responded, “oh no, are you not going to f*ck me now,” (I can be blunt). And then I pretended I was crying as I walked away laughing.
Seriously, don’t waste my time with your garbage. Why do I care what you think? Ah, that’s right, I don’t.
Now, if there was a man of value who I was interested in and who carried himself well, then I would hope I am his preference. Even still I can’t change that. My body is my body, giggly underarms, belly fat and all.
7. Remember That You Have Eyes Too
Often women are considered the trophies but we have physical preferences too. It doesn’t mean we should be vain and weird like this pastor—that would be a reduction of our intelligence.
Quality of character matters. From what I see, this pastor does not have that, so he is focusing on external features.
But it means that we should remind ourselves that it goes both ways. That we also have the power to consider what guys look like and have our preferences.
I love a nice strong back. Yes, please! But if I meet an amazing man who doesn’t have a muscular back, I’m still going to talk to him.
So it is not that this pastor is more powerful and has more of a say or influence. It is that we all have our preferences. But unlike the pastor we also have the character to not spout them so judgmentally.
For the future, if someone tells you their preferences, instead of wondering if you live up to them, ask yourself what you preferences are. And see if they live up to yours. It’s very powerful!
8. Consider if the Comments Pinged Something
Sometimes ignorant comments like this are an opportunity for us to look inward and see what is bothering us. So it’s NOT about the pastor, it’s about us and how we feel.
I once got a comment in a writing group where someone said he thought no one would ever read my writing. It ticked me off. The low EQ and inability to give constructive criticism was one thing. But there was more here. It wasn’t about the boy who made the comment.
I realized it was because I had low confidence in my writing. So I worked on being a better writer to get my confidence.
And now if someone told me they thought no one would read my writing, welp we’re all entitled to our opinions. But I’m too busy writing to focus on their opinion, one I didn’t ask for. Say it behind my back, I seriously don’t have time.
So if this comment pinged on your confidence or made you feel low about yourself, question why. DO not direct your attention to the boy-pastor who said the comments. Direct the question internally. Why is this upsetting?
Is it simply because this ideology is abusive and controlling?—I don’t blame you. Or is it because you are feeling self-conscious about your weight and body? Then that is the opportunity to take action.
I was self-conscious about my body. But then I started lifting weights and now I don’t focus on my weight I focus on my strength. It gave me incredible empowerment, and I can deadlift close to 200 lbs, woot woot!
What can you do to feel more confident about your body? It could be as simple as allowing you to be you without disclosures.
9. Stop Yourself From Stooping to His Level
In Section 1 I said what bothered me. But there is more. It bothers me he is overweight and expecting women to be slim. The entitlement is horrendous.
But I do not want to stoop to his level and focus on or make comments about other people’s weight. Because that would be a disservice to my intelligence. It would also bring me to his level, and that will solve nothing.
I do not want to judge people on their weight because it’s wrong and it’s mean. You have value no matter your weight. We need to judge people on their character and how they treat people.
Also important is to not direct your attention to Melania and question her beauty. She is a woman brought into this mess. She did nothing wrong and we do not want to focus on her beauty or what we think of her looks. That would make us as bad as this pastor.
Another gut shot response I had was to say I wouldn’t f*ck him with someone else’s d*ck. But I am trying to be mature and foster an environment of empowerment and not aggression. Even though I do miss my cheeky, aggressive comments.
10. Allow Yourself to Feel the Feels
It’s very important to validate your feelings. Because we need to acknowledge our feelings and work through them to feel fulfilled and happy.
So while I encourage you to switch your mentality, I also encourage you to acknowledge how you are currently feeling. If this makes you mad or sad, I do not blame you. It’s upsetting. And there is nothing wrong with being upset.
Remember: “I have the power to reject the thoughts and statements of others.”
I just want to make sure you are working through those feelings effectively. So really take some time to sit with the feelings and work through them by considering why you are really upset and what you can do to change the cause.
Here we can work together by not giving this person power, by rejecting his distorted reality and by empowering ourselves. It might also be helpful to talk to a friend.
The good news is the pastor said he is not doing marriage counseling. A.K.A he is doing women a favor. He could do us one bigger by keeping his mouth shut.
However, people with this distorted reality are still given mics. So we need to switch our mentality and respond from an empowered place. I see it as an amazing opportunity to grow.
“Did you see that pastor who said women need to be thin to keep men.”
“Yeah, what a waste of time, so sad he has nothing of value to add to the conversation.”
“Did you see that pastor who said women need to be thin to keep men.”
“I know, sad this is still a thing.”
“Did you see that pastor who said women need to be think to keep men.”
“Yeah.” (you really do not need to respond more than this.)
And with that I want to say a very happy women’s day to the women of the world and the men who are our advocates. Things may seem grim, but change is brewing and we are laying the groundwork for a more empowered future.
I’m proud of us.
Photo by alexandra lammerink