We're Doing It Wrong: Bashing ourselves among friends

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

I was watching Inside Amy Schumer the other night, and in one of the segments, Amy ran into several girlfriends on the street. They each complimented each other, and the compliment recipient immediately fired back with a self-deprecating rebuttal.

-------------------------------------

“Amy! Hi! I love your hat!”

“Ugh. Are you drunk? I look like an Armenian man ...”

-------------------------------------

“Ms. Jessica! Congrats on your big promotion biotch!”

“I’m gonna get fired in like two seconds ...”

------------------------------------

They didn’t extend their criticisms to anyone else in the group--each woman knocked herself down exclusively. It was a wonderfully dry, astute and downright hilarious observation of female interaction. I kept telling my boyfriend, “That’s so accurate! We totally do that!”

Then I started thinking about why we do that. I’ve always assumed it was a sort of disarming: If we kick ourselves down a peg, we take away other people’s ability to knock us down. You can’t make me feel bad about my dented bumper or the pimple on my nose if I beat you to it!

If my assumption is true, we are doing this wrong, for several reasons:

1. Berating ourselves is mean, plain and simple. Take the criticisms you would voice about yourself, among friends. Now say them about a friend, to that friend. See? Not nice. Why should we treat ourselves any differently?

2. While it might make for great Comedy Central tv, throwing shade at our “flaws” doesn’t make for a great sense of self. It’s one thing to be self-effacing at times, and it’s another to be self-critical as a rule.

3. Verbally pummeling ourselves while we’re out to brunch doesn’t make us more fun or interesting. I have never heard someone say, “She’s so mean to herself! And the stuff she says about her nose and her salary! It’s so cruel, and so great!”

4. This puts our friends in an odd spot. Are they supposed to refute our claims of dirty hair or a messy apartment? Will they be considered rude if they don’t offer up their perceived missteps? Or will confessing to below-the-knee-only shaving be viewed as one upmanship? This sort of maneuvering does nothing for your Saturday and even less for your friendship.

5. If we really are disarming ourselves by exposing our "flaws," we are by extension assuming our friends are "armed" against us. Our friends are the people who boost us, not the people eager to take shot at us.

I could be doing this wrong, and making incorrect assumptions. Maybe our self-critique among friends is not a laying-down-of-arms. Maybe it’s a learned bonding ritual or a way of seeking reassurance. Whatever it is, it needs to stop.

 

What if, instead of bashing ourselves at the first sign of flattery, we reprogrammed ourselves to absorb and appreciate the compliment, say “thank you,” and reciprocate with a compliment? It’s a worthwhile retraining, and I intend to do it.

More from living

Living
by Jessica Hickam | a day ago
Living
by Jessica Hickam | 2 days ago
Living
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 2 days ago
Living
by Sarah Brooks | 2 days ago
Living
by Jessica Hickam | 3 days ago
Living
by Aly Walansky | 3 days ago
Living
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 7 days ago
Living
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 10 days ago
Living
by Whitney Coy | 10 days ago
Living
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 11 days ago
Living
by Style N/A | 12 days ago
Living
by Julie Sprankles | 15 days ago
Living
by Allie Gemmill | 16 days ago