Toot Your Horn

Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

Let’s assume at this point that we’re talking about skills other than that which led Eddie Murphy to use the title of this post as a euphemism for an action that would cause him to never leave the house!

In April 2013, Dove published an advert in the US under the title “Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think”.

The advert shows an FBI forensic artist sketch a group of women based purely on the way they described themselves and again as others described them. The artist could only hear their voices, not see their faces. Across the board, the self-described portraits were the least attractive – suggesting, according to the Dove marketing team, that we are all more beautiful than we think we are.

This misconception of our physical selves can be shaped by comments from others, ideals promoted by society and other experiences.

Not only do we not perceive ourselves correctly on the physical level, but also on the emotional.

There is evidence to suggest that we are all more racist than we think we are, that we aren’t as generous as we think we are, that we always see our problems as worse than other people’s (I actually think I’m the opposite to this; maybe that’s me tooting my own horn!) and that we also dramatically overestimate our ability to resist temptation.

This sort of post is the reason why I didn’t want to expand on too many points in Karma Chameleon. One of the points Emma Young mentions in her New Scientist article that I referenced in that previous post is that we can be “particularly deluded” when it comes to judging the traits in ourselves that we care about the most.

I’ve read and heard people in the not too distant past mentioning the faults in others while exaggerating how great they are in those traits.  “I’m the one who is normal.  It’s all the rest of you lot that have things wrong with yourselves”.  In my experience, the minority is rarely the one who is completely faultless and failure to recognise this seriously affects self-growth.

It’s a theory that I believe to manifest itself in two modern cultural phenomenons, the first of which is Taylor Swift!

I have a confession at this point.  I don’t entirely know what I’m talking about having not owned any recent Taylor Swift albums, I just know what I’ve read about.  I’ve read that Taylor writes a lot of songs about ex-boyfriends and they’re not always complimentary and blame the man for the breakdown of that relationship.  I’ve read that she dates A LOT and that some of them are “players”.  I’ve also read the conclusion from these points that maybe, just maybe, there’s actually a common denominator to these breakdowns and it isn’t necessarily the owner of the Y chromosome in the relationship. (I believe Taylor doesn’t write songs along the lines of “We came to a mutual decision – we just weren’t right for each other” or “Maybe it was actually me, not you”).

The other manifestation is the blase phrase “haters gonna hate”. (Does this mean it’s just Taylor who is the issue?!)  We live in a society now where every dissenting opinion is just wrong.  When I submitted Should I Be A Feminist? to reddit, I was banned from posting in the feminism sub-reddit, presumably because my essay was not towing the party line.  I was wrong, simply because I didn’t say how brilliant something was.  (Incidentally, I also didn’t say it was terrible, I just noted my points for not entirely understanding the movement).

Nowadays we’re soft and tend to have an inability to be introspective.  Those people that can look at themselves and be critical about their deficiencies are called out as recognising weakness rather than necessarily promoting strength.

So, putting my soap box away…

I’ve been proud recently when someone at work went out their way to thank me for my help, advice and reasoned and balanced opinion on something really rubbish that’s happened over the last 10 days.  A few of my colleagues noticed it was taking a toll on me but were grateful for my efforts.  I’d like to think that that meant I did a good job with it!

I’m the baddest of the bad.
I’m the best that you’ve ever had.
I’m the tops, I’m the king.
All the girls get up when I sing.

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived by Weezer

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