To someone like me, who does not like meanness, self deprecating humor is the best sort. Mocking one’s own foibles can be hysterical in a way that pointing out the faults of another never can be.
On the other hand, there is nothing amusing about walking into someone’s immaculate home and having them apologize for the mess as they straighten the one pillow that was not perfectly plumped. Instantly, I am made aware of potential messes I might make – where should I put my purse, how much hair am I shedding right this very minute, and am I really allowed to sit on this furniture? It doesn’t make me anxious to visit again.
If your house is a mess, apologizing for it only draws more attention to it. Chances are, nobody would mind the dust-doggies trailing across the floor if you didn’t point them out. (Let’s be honest. They might notice, but noticing and minding are two different things.)
Yesterday, I read that the same holds true for the things we say about ourselves. Self disparaging comments about our bodies do not make us more likable, whether the remarks are true or not.
For some reason, I find this harder to believe. Am I just kidding myself? This research was done among college students. Would the results be the same for women in different stages of life?
I also wonder if this is true only of strangers, or if it affects those with whom we are already friends? It seems that most of the women I know speak more of discontent than delight with their appearance.
It’s not a constant topic of conversation; that would be tiresome. It is, however, a frustration shared aloud – the difficulty of losing the post-baby weight or the mid-life bulge.
Obviously, I share those thoughts myself. Does this make me a less likable blogger?
I don’t think ill of my friends who share that they’d like to lose a few pounds. If I know a friend is trying to change her eating habits, I won’t serve cake or sweets when she visits, but, other than that, it doesn’t affect my behavior or opinion of her.
Honestly, sometimes it would be weird to express a positive body image.
If I were to greet a friend with, “Anything new?” and she responded, “I joined a gym, trying to keep from outgrowing my jeans,” I’d ask if she liked it or if it was working. If she responded, “I joined a gym. I’m already the ideal weight, but I want to get stronger,” I’d wonder why she mentioned her weight if it wasn’t an issue and hope the topic soon changed.
How often can you work it into casual conversation that you like your looks before you sound like a boor or a braggart? I’m thinking it is slightly less than the number of times you can mention that you are still have ten pounds to lose. Not a whole lot less, but, really, one announcement that you’ve lost all the baby weight is sufficient.
Still, I get the point of the article. Negativity is not appealing. Whether we are talking about our homes, our bodies, our jobs, or our families, complaining is not the way to win friends or influence people.
Unless you are a comedian.