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  • Alessandra Large

AN ODE TO THE ART OF SELF-DEPRECATION


Just a few questions for this morning: how many times have you made a self-deprecating comment today/this week? How did it make you feel? Do you know why you made those comments? Are many of your daily utterances comprised of them? Or, do you really never make them? Either way, if you would like to indulge in a few minutes of reading, please continue from here. I think we probably all agree that, if you put yourself down too often, it can be pretty tiresome, both for the self-deprecator and for the audience. Self-deprecation can so easily be a self-defense mechanism - a way of pointing out a flaw before others comment on it. Something many of us learn at a young age. Do these, seemingly, nonchalant quips often denote a deep sense of low self-esteem and work to slowly but surely ebb away our sense of self-worth. Maybe, yes, well, of course they do. And, if this is what you are doing, please try to be nicer to yourself. Please stop putting yourself down. This is a form of self-sabotage. On the other hand, can’t well-timed and placed self-deprecation sometimes be funny? Have the power to make us laugh? Is it in fact a form of careful self-protection, a virtue that allows people to feel "on the same level"? A way of making friends, of feeling closer to someone? A way of feeling like you are in a secret club and you share some private little secrets? In a world of filters, selfies and social media brainwashing, just the right amount of self-deprecating humour is one of the ways in which we can be honest with each other. A way in which we can share and show each other some of our insecurities in a safe way.

I am all for positivity and self-love, but not to the complete detriment of a bit of humour.

It can be upsetting and really, pretty sad when someone is constantly negative about their appearance/abilities/situation, and highly likely, also a warning sign of deep-rooted issues, which shouldn't be ignored. Likewise, sometimes self-deprecation is akin to compliment seeking. This is not what I want to encourage or divulge. The self-deprecation of which I speak, warrants no rebuffal, no sycophantry. All it warrants is a giggle. This is sarcasm in its purest, hopefully, most harmless form. The self being the subject matter.

Self-deprecation

noun

  1. modesty about or criticism of oneself. "an artist with a penchant for wry self-deprecation"

There is nothing I find more irritating or less soothing than when I make a self-deprecating remark and someone replies "no you don't/you’re not" or worse, responds with pity. I am not seeking your approval/support, I am seeking your humour, your allegiance. If I say "my ribcage is so broad, I can't buy anything from ZARA" (seriously, ZARA, sort it out), or, "my mum always said my nose is so wide as it got squashed when I came out", LAUGH WITH ME. Do not try to change my self-image or feel sorry for me. If I were to no longer make self-deprecating remarks, it would be a sign that my ego is bursting at the seams. But that is also because I am British. Self-deprecation is part of my (British) culture, and as insidious as it can be (self-deprecation, not my culture…), I can’t help it. If it is not part of your humour lexicon, then I am not asking you to begin to self-deprecate, simply to understand and detect when it is harmless and when it is not.

Self-love is so, so important, and there are so many books and studies about how the way we speak to ourselves really matters (I am not denying this in the slightest, be as nice as you can to yourself, please!) but so is being able to laugh at yourself. So is being modest and humble. If you fall over, if you spill ketchup all down your white top - laugh about it. Don't take life too seriously. If you want other people to laugh with you instead of laughing at you, you have to laugh at yourself. Yes, there is a flipside to this, don't take this too literally. People will only like you if you like yourself. Despite how common it sadly is, hating yourself should not be considered an option, you should be your best friend, you are already sublime, but it is all too easy to be your worst enemy. So next time you crash your bike whilst drinking a green smoothie (not recommended), and end up walking home with a broken bike, crying and looking like shrek, I invite you to take a step outside of yourself. The sooner you see what other people see, the sooner you will see the funnier side. And when you recount the story to your friends and family, it is ok to slightly exaggerate for comedic effect. CAVEAT: This is a call for understanding the charm of self-deprecating humour. But it is also an invitation to read-between-the-lines. Is it charming or is it harmful? Is it too much or is it just enough? Too many people actually bring themselves down when they use self-deprecating humour. Of course, inherent to the nature of self-deprecating humour is that someone puts themselves down, but the key is detecting, as much in tone as content, whether it is founded on a genuine or pretend opinion of oneself. Whilst I poke fun at my nose, I really love my nose. It is great, my giant nostrils give me a really great sense of smell and putting my big toe in my nostril is actually one of my party tricks. This is really just an opinion. It is my opinion and my opinion changes like the wind. What are your thoughts on self-deprecation?


For a totally different opinion, by two journalists who I absolutely adore - https://play.acast.com/s/thehighlowshow/thedangersofself-deprecation-adeep-diveinto-nanette-

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