Amanda’s got an interesting post about the way women run themselves down as a matter of course, both to bond with other women and to show others that they don’t suffer from any grand notions that they’re actually self-confident:
Some researchers have looked into female self-degradation and found that women tend to treat the practice of making derogatory comments about your own body as mandatory. (Hat tip, Lisa in KS.) Hating your body is considered a baseline behavior to demonstrate that you are not exhibiting threateningly high levels of self-esteem.
Fat talk also allows females to appear modest, a prized quality in a culture that shuns egotism.
“We tend to dislike arrogance and especially dislike it in women (‘bitches’)”, Martz explained. “Women are perceived as OK if they fat talk and acknowledge that their bodies are not perfect but they are working on it.”
What the researchers called “fat talk” functions as a form of female bonding, basically over our shared understanding that we can never measure up.
See, this is one of those things that my status as a lifetime fat person has given me a much different perspective on. I’m pretty much exempt from mandatory self-deprecation (because, yes, my ass *does* look fat in these pants, because *my ass is fat* and I don’t need to solicit anyone’s opinion on that, thanks, because someone will be sure to scream it out a car window), though it is my role to assure other women that no, they’re not fat — certainly not like me.
This started in junior high, when girls I didn’t interact with much would come up to me in the locker room and ask, “Zuzu, do you think I’m fat?” Why? Because I’m the expert? Because I’ll say of course not? Because anyone who didn’t look like me was, by default, thin?
I always wish I’d had the guts in those days to look those girls in the eyes and tell them that, yes, you’re looking a little chunky there, Susie. Because this was just another reminder that I wasn’t like them, wasn’t normal, and wasn’t part of their world. But instead I just felt shame.
It’s about 25 years too late, but fuck you, Susie.