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.