A few months ago, I posted a picture of myself sitting on the shore and then said something sarcastic about a beached whale.
When someone left a comment saying that I was being ridiculous, that I didn’t look like a whale at all, I was kind of thrown. I honestly thought I was just making fun of the awkward way I was sitting, not of my body size.
Here’s that picture again:
(Awkward, right? But maybe I should have gone for the stark-white-legs comment instead…)
Anyway, it got me thinking. I know I have a tendency to rely on self-deprecation for humor. In my head, I’m doing it to be relatable, to show modesty (I guess?), and to hopefully balance out the unfortunate fact that I have to take and post pictures of myself constantly as a blogger. (If not for this blog, there would be roughly 87% fewer pictures of me in existence.)
Plus, it’s just my personality. And I try to be myself on this blog as much as possible (for better or for worse).
Inevitably, some of that self-deprecation falls onto my body. Whether my limbs are looking weird in a picture, my smile is gummy-3rd-grade-pictures big, or my tan is shockingly uneven (see above), I can usually find something to comment on.
Is that bad?
I rationalize that, at my core, I have a great self esteem, and these comments are all coming from the right place (just humor, not deeply buried pain), but does that come across? Or does me making fun of my own body, in a way, give license for others to do the same, and on their own terms?
And, of course, there’s that saying about there being a percentage of truth in every joke we make. Does that mean I can never be 100% kidding?
I feel comfortable making fun of any and all selfies I take, because come on, it’s a selfie. And we all know it.
Is it ok to make jokes about your body? And if so, what are the rules?
Can you only do it in the right company, when you’re confident everyone will understand the joke the right way? (And how does this work with the whole WORLD WIDE WEB thing?) Is it ok as long as you stick to the softballs—“check out my awkward arm!” vs. “look, my arm fat is waving again!”
I know this is a huge way that women relate, in general. We’re all acutely aware of our bodies, what we look like, and how we’re perceived by the world, and sharing in that anxiety is an intimate, bonding thing for us.
But is it healthy?
How can we tell who’s really joking, and who’s speaking from a place of pain? (Does it matter?)
There are several people I know—including lots of healthy living bloggers—who will make these kinds of jokes, and I know they’re 100% kidding and 100% comfortable in their bodies, despite whatever they just said. But then there are others who will make me think, “Hmm. Where was that coming from?” And I’ll get the impression that they’re subtly, if desperately, asking for a much-needed compliment.
If you are uncomfortable with some aspect of your body, to the point where it’s a source of pain or sadness for you, are you not allowed to joke about it? Or is it actually healthy to make light of the situation?
If you’re with a group of girlfriends and they’re all making fat jokes about themselves, and you stay quiet, what does that say about you? Do you come off as secure and above it all, cocky because your body’s so perfect you can’t relate, or so deep in your insecurity that you can’t even joke about it?
Even if you’re making an effort to avoid self-deprecating humor, what do you do when a friend is clearly expecting it? When she wistfully says she wishes she could pull off short shorts, and you’re dying to make her feel better with a comment about how you yourself would look like a sausage coming out of its casing? (Sorry so graphic—why is that the example that came to mind??)
So, there are about 97 questions in this blog post. Please answer all of them in the comments below.
Haha…but seriously, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Do you joke about your body? What do you think when others do it?