Three Deadly Words: I’m So Fat

You’re remembered by the things you do, the things you say, and the things you believe in. Here’s what I mean:

Friend of mine #1: Did you hear what happened to Thomas?

Friend of mine #2: Thomas? You mean the one who reads 24/7, supports gay rights, plays tennis, blogs, and calls himself fat all the time?

Hold up. I know what you’re thinking. Thomas doesn’t have friends in real life. Why would Thomas’s friends say that he calls himself fat?

Maybe because he eats one of these every day... just kidding!

I have a problem. I self-deprecate. A lot.

I’m not saying that self-deprecation is a bad thing – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In his book Thank You For Arguing, Jay Heinrichs states that self-deprecating is a good way to indirectly compliment yourself. By downplaying yourself to others, you can brag that you only have 25,000 subscribers and that you only make $200,000 a year. It’s like a socially acceptable form of arrogance.

That’s not the type of self-deprecation I’m against. Well, it is, sort of. But the form of self-deprecation I’m referring to is much worse. It’s when you actually believe the bad things you’re saying about yourself are true, even when they’re not. It’s poisonous, a mental parasite that takes over your mind and kills your self-confidence.

I own three scales. It's a long story.

According to this BMI calculator, I’m not overweight or obese. My weight is normal. So why do I keep calling myself fat? Why do I think that that’s true when it’s not? To those of you who are like me: please stop. You’re not stupid, ugly, useless, or fat. It’s not appropriate to deride others, and it’s definitely not acceptable to ridicule yourself.

I’m stopping now. I’m listening to all of my friends and family that insist on arguing with me every time I insult myself, even though if I were them I would’ve given up a long time ago.

Small steps. Like a recovering smoker, I won’t go cold turkey; I’ll allow myself one self-deprecating comment per day until I stop completely. My goal will be to be rid of this curse by September 6, 2011 – the first day of my junior year. And to all of you who are trapped by your own insecurity, your own hurtful criticisms: you are not alone.

What do you think of self-deprecation? Is it beneficial or damaging? Do you self-deprecate?

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Three Deadly Words: I’m So Fat

  1. Modesty is an endearing and worthwhile quality. Self-deprecation is not. I’m absolutely horrendous to myself even though I’m old enough to know better. I’ve always done it. And do you know what? I’ve never even thought of making myself stop.

    I think it’s important to be realistic with yourself – if you’ve done something that’s not good enough, it’s ok to say so. I’m very much my own worst critic, and sometimes that’s a good thing, especially when I’m writing. I want to be better at everything I do, and if I don’t push myself, who else is going to do it?

    However, other people tell me all the time that I’m too hard on myself. I think I might need longer to stop than you do Thomas, but what a brilliant idea to give yourself a deadline. I enjoy reading your posts so much and often wish that I had the level of self-awareness you show when I was younger. It’s such a massive waste of time to be awful to yourself, and yet I still do it every day. I’m going to join you in trying to get rid of this behavior.

    • Yes, exactly. It’s one thing to give yourself constructive criticism and reflect on what you can improve, but it gets a bit much when you’re aware that you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits. I love how you brought up writing because it’s something everyone can get better at through practice, reading, and revising – being incessantly harsh won’t help.

      Thank you for your kind words and for consistently reading and commenting Ruth. The other day I was talking to my friend and realized just how many times I self-deprecated within the span of a single conversation; it wasn’t pretty, so I vowed to stop. This post is like my proof of that. Keep me updated on how it goes, I know you can manage it! (:

  2. lolol. in high school, I wrote in my journal, “I don’t think I’m anorexic. I think I’m OK, albeit completely fat..” t__t

    I think self-deprecation is fine as long as you know clearly what you’re good at and what you need improvement on.. accept the praise for what is good and important, but self-deprecate away at the trivial things XD eh, but what is trivial and what is important? What do you do well and what don’t you do well? -___-”

    Michelle

    • Aw! That’s not contradictory at all… if you really do think you’re on the heavy side, it’s probably just your big brain adding the extra weight. (;

      I suppose that’s true… as long as you can maintain a clear mindset on what you’re not so good at vs. what you’re actually good at a little bit of self-deprecation couldn’t hurt.

  3. The problem is, even when it’s the self-deprecating that you actually believe is true, to others it still sounds like the secret bragging type. Even in your case, I’ve noticed it :/
    I hope it gets better, and let me ask you right now: do you honestly think your fat?

    *Hoping the “your” distracts you enough to say no 😉 *

    • That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to stop, because I don’t want to seem like the arrogant type – I doubt I could be any less arrogant, really.

      Hm… that’s a difficult question to answer, to be honest. It would be easiest to say no. I know I’m not fat because my bmi is average and everyone disagreed with me when I call myself fat. However, as you know, I don’t like being average so there’s always a part of my mind telling me I could be skinnier (which is true).

      Overall, no. I’m not fat. I hope you realize how painful it was for me to type that. -_-

  4. Christina

    I think self-deprecating constantly is definitely a bad thing. I used to self-deprecate a lot and the only thing it did was bring my self esteem down. I also told myself I would stop because the more I was saying these things, the more I believed in it.
    But I guess saying it aloud is better than keeping it in. Letting it pile up inside you is certainly not healthy, but keeping the amount of times you self-deprecate low is a good idea because it just might get on people’s nerves.
    It’s easier said than done though, but that may be because I have low self-esteem to begin with. Good luck on quitting this bad habit!
    P.S I am so not ready for school XD

    • You said you used to self-deprecate, so you don’t anymore? If that’s the case, good work! I’m slowly decreasing the amount of times I self-deprecate and it’s making me feel better, or at least not as bad. You’re right that it gets on people’s nerves, I think a few of my friends (like the commenter above you) have grown tired of me complaining about A-‘s instead of A’s. (;

      I’m not ready for school either, I haven’t even finished my summer assignments… does your school start on September 6 as well?

      • Christina

        I still self-deprecate but only like once a month. I definitely am more secure about myself now but i do complain to my close friends and family once in a while.
        Yup, school starts on September 6th but i don’t have summer assignments…Maybe because I’m from Canada? You’re in the U.S right?…Don’t know if that makes a difference .I decided to take summer school so I could have a spare next year, so my summer break was only a month. Need more time to relax XD

        • Yep I’m from the US – what are you getting a spare of because of your enrollment in summer school? I would be so stressed out if I only had one month of summer break, though not having any summer assignments sounds like a big plus. (:

  5. Pingback: My 2011-2012 School Year Resolutions | the quiet voice

  6. Thanks so much for posting this. I say I’m fat, maybe because I am, but others say I’m not and certain family members tease me that I am and they take it for a joke.It’s one thing to self-depreciate and it’s another to have someone say it out loud to remove any doubt in my mind, joke or not, it still hurts.
    But one day I came across a quote of one of my favourite authors that got to me and helped me to feel more confident in myself:

    “Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”
    ― J.K. Rowling

    Yep. Ask your self that very question and think about your answer. I did, and I feel better now, fat or not it doesn’t affect my personality (and I think my personality is pretty decent, if I may say so myself) and I keep telling myself that every time I look in the mirror, when I start depreciating again or when ever someone tells me that I’m fat.

    Self-depreciation goes both ways, to me. On one hand if you criticize yourself you’d work towards improvement, as in the instance:
    “I’m so lazy I can’t stand myself” can get you up and thinking “so why don’t let’s change that and get up and going than mope?”

    that would be good, you’d admit to your flaws and would be motivated to improve yourself.

    But if you go on on saying “I’m so worthless, I shouldn’t be allowed to live…”

    How do you get out of that one? Now that’s a problem, leading to depression and in some cases sever depression and ultimately suicide. I’m not exaggerating, you know this kind of thing happens.

    And Thomas you’re not fat and please try to believe it. 🙂 Easier said than done, huh?
    Don’t let it get to you because the only negative thing about being overweight is its effect on you health but you seem very health to me. Being fat doesn’t change who you are and it’s important to remember that 🙂

    • I actually hadn’t thought of that before, you’re right that a person can be many other things that are worse than being fat. I’m going to use that from now on, thanks Devina!

      And I think to your question about “I’m so worthless, I shouldn’t be allowed to live…”, you could apply the same principle that you did with the other question. If you think you’re worthless, do something about it. Go make yourself valuable by helping others, exercising, learning a new skill, reading, or doing anything other than just thinking that you’re worthless – if that is all one is capable of, then, well, unfortunately, maybe they do need to reevaluate what they should be doing in their free time. Of course some people do think that they are worthless when they are not, and these people need to find someone to talk to, be it a close friend, a family member, or a professional.

      Thanks for the insight Devina!

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