Thursday, June 08, 2006

No Really, Do I?

Do I look fat in this? It’s one of the oldest questions in the book. It also, now, happens to be a book, penned by Jessica Weiner, whom I met at a conference several months ago.

As most recipients of this question can attest, there’s really no right answer. As a woman, what answer do you want to hear?

“No, you look fine.”

“Well, it’s not your most flattering outfit.”

Honesty or diplomacy? Fact or tact?

A social psychology theory, self-verification theory, gives us a hint. It posits that we actively seek out information consistent with our self-concept, the ideas we already have about ourselves. It explains why we might want “the truth” (according to us), even if it hurts. Incidentally, the theory also provides insight into self-mutilation, remaining with an abusive partner, and Stockholm syndrome.

We’re looking for confirmation, not affirmation.

If I believe I look fat, I urge you to join me, to see me how I do.

I’d rather feel right than good.


PalmTreeChick said...

That's an interesting post. I, personally, want to hear "yes, you do look fat in that" because it's what I believe and it reassures me that I am not the only one seeing it.

It's sort of the same thing, for me atleast, with sports. I'd always hate to hear that I had such a "great game" when I thought I stunk up the joint. Granted,I think I tend to be too hard on myself and am never satisfied or "good enough" for ME. There is, however, a fine line between being too hard on yourself and being able to recognized whether or not you really did stink, or am fat.

Hopefully that made sense.

Haley-O said...

Great post, Doc. I think everywomanshouldreadthispost! ;)
I recently decided altogether to stop asking others if I look "fat" or if I look like I've lost weight. I stopped because such questions set a bad example for Joey and because they suggest to others that such things matter--and I want to be an example to other women, as well as to my child. It's the least I can do as a mother and as a feminist.

drstaceyny said...

PTC--you, too hard on yourself? Get out of here! ; )

Haley--thanks! And major points for you for giving up this talk (the book I referenced is a really quick read and helps you deal with others who bring up weight-y conversations). Rock on, feminist mom!

Barmaid said...

You speak volumes of wisdom. Yet an entire generation of men has been trained to respond to this question with diplomacy, compliments and affection, not truth - and it's with good reason. Because despite your wisdom, there are still millions of women who will get furious if the answer is anything other than an immediate "No."

And I suspect if I sat a man down and told him, a few months into our relationship, that when I ask that question I want unabashed honesty, not smoke blown up my ass, his head would simply explode.

So what next?