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TONI THORNE: Broad-backers expert at handling the critics


TONI THORNE: Broad-backers expert at handling the critics

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WE WOMEN always face a constant dilemma of wanting to be liked versus standing up for ourselves. A close family member always says: “People are not ‘nice’. There is no such thing as ‘nice’. People are either for you or against you and you better understand that.”

When I first heard it, I thought, “How cynical!” However, over the years, observation and experience have taught that those who have broad backs seldom fail the critical tests of life.

The crux of having a broad back is being able to handle criticism of all forms. Criticism can be constructive or malicious. People with broad backs should be able to distinguish and handle the two.

The perspective that people with broad backs have towards criticism is very interesting. Their view is one of acceptance and they have a confidence (not delusions of grandeur) that is never eclipsed by the worst of critiques.

Perhaps having a broad back makes you more confident and focused. If you care about what everyone says, you become distracted from your purpose and mission on this Earth. Look at the world’s most successful people. They all have one thing in common: they have broad backs.

Amidst the insults hurled at talk show host Wendy Williams about her appearance and the recent hashtag #callmeWalter, she remains a self-confessed “broad-backer”.

Television statistics and reports claim that her ratings surpass the more conventionally attractive host of the celebrity-clad Ellen Show this year. Good for Mrs Williams! One would rather be successful and “ugly” than failing at what one does.

Here at home, full respect must be given to Ms Rosemary Alleyne. This is a lady who could care less about what Barbadians say about her attire and delivers a class act on CBC TV8. She, like Mrs Williams, is a self-confessed “broad-backer”.

The road to success is filled with many character-building challenges. I admire Rihanna, who particularly had a broad back when most Bajans were slamming her in the early days of her career. It is funny how we condemn the caterpillar but then sweat the butterfly. That is an irony of life.

Having a broad back does not mean that you do not care about others or that you may not be a genuine person. It simply means that you are not affected by the mundane offerings of this life, such as approval in certain social circles, Instagram likes or offending people. According to the young people: “You do you!”

Having a broad back means being able to stand for something.

Thankfully, one of this year’s calypsos does not ring true for many of us. We can be ugly and have other personal attributes. There is a popular meme on Instagram which states: “Everybody ugly to somebody. Chill out.”

I think we need to love ourselves and be our own versions of beauty so that when people criticise our appearance, it rolls off our backs.

The pressures of conventional beauty are at an all-time high. Perhaps this is why many people who look nothing like Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé sit in the chairs of local make-up artists and specifically ask to look like them.

But people with broad backs welcome their flaws. They understand that their flaws make them unique. We need to prioritise teaching our children that they are beautiful just the way they are.

From the time we start teaching our children to have broad backs, wearing Remy and contouring one’s face every day becomes a compliment and not a necessity. They know that what they bring to any table is a complete package.

In teaching ourselves about having a broad back, we must understand that any time you put yourself in the spotlight, you will be eaten by the sharks if you do not have a broad back.

Life is not fair and it is not meant to be. Instances will arise where people will be twice your size and tell you about your dietary habits.

In this new world, everyone is a critic. Embrace it. As my father once said to me: “One of the worst things when you put yourself out there for public scrutiny is that it means that some people will only resort to nasty comments and lies. Deal with it.”

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email [email protected]