PIPER KLEMM, PH.D
I recently read Amy Poehler’s 2014 book Yes Please, in which she laments a common inability for women to say, “Good for her, not for me.” For her, this revelation was centered around all the advice she got for childbirth and caring for babies and how demanding people could be that she do it their way.
Judgement, for me, takes two forms in today’s world. There is in-person judgment—the type that makes you cringe, look at your feet, and go off and burst into tears. And then there is online judgment. The trainwreck you know you shouldn’t look at, but you do. And then you admonish yourself both for looking and for what it says. The judgement from the people whose opinions you would never ask for.
I don’t know which one is worse for me. When I’m at home and curled up,
I would for sure say online judgement. But when I’m face to face with other people, in my body and in my lizard brain, in-person feels incomparably worse. The difference is the quantity. While you might have an upsetting in-person incident occasionally, the Internet is there to strike you 24/7. I think they can average out to being equally horrifying if you let the peanut gallery, whose opinions you wouldn’t even consider asking for in real life, into your headspace.
I see how destructive our world has been for things that really should never be judged upon. How many people don’t feel comfortable coming out to ride because of how others might perceive them in riding pants or who “belongs” in our sport (spoiler alert: the correct answer is everyone).
If you are paid to hold someone to a standard, you should, and you should be firm about it. The industry is relying on you for that. Judges, course designers, and trainers you hire should be fair, yet tough and uncompromising. But for everyone else—fellow competitors, other trainers, or even other people in our own barns, we can all make a better effort to be good citizens of our sport.
To say, “good for you, not for me,” when a friend might get blinged out riding pants, or buys a horse we might think would go better for us, or makes a Facebook post we don’t agree with, or rocks an extra 15 lbs in the show ring.
So, we sit here judging the following (including but not limited to):
The people who show at WEF, the people who don’t show at WEF, who trains with this person or that person, the people who blanket their horses and don’t blanket their horses, and clip their horses and don’t clip their horses, and have children and don’t have children, and breastfeed and don’t breastfeed, and wear a dress to the horse show or wear sweatpants to the horse show, who are all made up and who don’t wear make-up, who enjoy jewelry and who don’t … we could go on all day about others’ decisions and how they’re not right for us.
But that is true. And it is okay.
The next time you see something you don’t agree with on social media, you can scroll past without commenting. Instead of putting your energy into disagreements, invest that time into yourself, your family, and your horses. Imagine how different the horse world—and the wider world, too—would look if we all agreed to do so, even just once a day.
The next time you see anyone, but especially another woman, doing something you wouldn’t do, take a deep breath, and just try going about it the Amy Poehler way: Say to yourself, “Good for her, not for me.”
*This story was originally published in the March 2021 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!