Embracing Your Muttiness

Photo courtesy of Buddy's human, Ellen

Photo courtesy of Buddy's human, Ellen

One of my clients, Ellen (not her real name) loves her dog, Buddy (not his real name). She rescued Buddy when he was 4 months old. Buddy is a mutt. Not just any mutt, but the muttiest mutt who ever mutted. Ellen had his DNA tested and was told that there were so many breeds present that they couldn’t pin anything down definitively. For all practical purposes, he’s a Buddy. Unique and wonderful. And that’s what Ellen loves about him. He is perfectly Buddy, and there is not another dog like him.

But imagine if we took Buddy to an AKC competition. He kind of looks like he might have some German Shephard in him. Those judges would be quick to point out how he doesn’t meet their standards. They might point out “flaws” in his legs or body shape.

Then on to the beagle judges. Buddy looks a little beagle-y, right? Nope. Ears wrong.

OK—perhaps he’s got terrier in him. Nope. Haunches aren’t right.

If Buddy understood what was going on, he might leave the competition feeling very sad and maybe even defective. But the good news is that there is nothing the AKC judges could say to change how Ellen feels about him. Because he’s perfectly Buddy. Ellen loves Buddy not in spite of his muttiness but because of it.

I bet you know where I’m going with this story. Buddy is loved because of his own unique qualities, not because he meets some purebred standard. But think about how often you look in the mirror and apply similar rules to yourself. Legs and body shape not right. Ears not right. All wrong.

We look at what has come to be accepted as ideal body types and criticize ourselves for not measuring up. Like the generations of dogs that created Buddy, the genes of our ancestors have come together to create us. I have my grandma’s hips. My grandpa’s nose. My mom’s feet and hands. For some reason we feel the need to evaluate those against some “purebred” ideal. And in that process, we lose appreciation for our own muttiness.

We’re all mutts and trying to squeeze our bodies into some airbrushed, Photoshopped ideal is like expecting Buddy to win in the poodle category. Poodles are great—but Buddy isn’t and never will be poodle. He’s Buddy.

So find your own inner [your name here]. And love yourself not in spite of your genetic stew but because of it.

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