I read this article this weekend on Today’s Health called “Why Women Are Terrible At Accepting Compliments.” It was a great article. They also embedded a video from Comedy Central’s Amy Schumer where she pokes fun at this phenomenon. This video is quite over the top, but I think it illustrates the ridiculousness of deflecting compliments.
A few months ago, I posted how my friends called me out when I did just that, deflected a compliment I received. After having been morbidly obese for about a million years, (OK 25 or so, but who’s counting), I have really been struggling with the fact that I am no longer invisible. Also, being morbidly obese means you do not like to hear about how you look. You know you look awful and generally if someone is complimenting you appearance, you believe it is a lie. Or you believe they are talking about how fat you are behind your back, which let’s face it, they probably are.
People are commenting on how I look to my face now pretty much all of the time these days. And it is taking me sometime to handle hearing good comments on my appearance. I especially have difficulty handling it when men compliment my appearance. Gay, straight, young, old, married, single doesn’t matter. I get flustered and I blush.
It’s easier to deflect than to simply say, “Thank you.” Saying “thank you” means that I have to openly admit to being attractive, or at least more attractive than I was before, and that’s something I have never been comfortable with. It appears that I am not alone:
“When someone tells me something good about myself, I always have a reason why they’re wrong,” she says. “I think we all feel ‘less than’. Less than what we should have been. Less than what we thought we were going to be. Or we listened to people who said we were less than. This is a big issue with women.”
“[We’re told] love yourself, but not too much. Be confident, but practice a style of humility this culture never requires of men. Believe in yourself, but never admit it out loud, lest you make another woman who doesn’t feel good about herself feel bad,” she says. “If you’re raised to think it’s arrogant to ever say something positive about yourself, it makes it hard to accept a compliment.“
I’d say there’s a lot of truth in that. I was always told that I was fat and unattractive. To hear that insult constantly and then to suddenly hear how good I look is frankly, difficult to believe. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it is easier to believe that bad stuff. I don’t know why that is, but it is.
I’m getting better at it. Having my appearance change and look better pretty much monthly helped. My friends making me sit through compliment therapy where they complimented me and I was not allowed to say anything but “thank you” helped as well. But learning to, if not always believe, at least embrace the good things in my life helps the most.
Now when people tell me how great I look, despite my constant blushing or my stomach my exploding into a million butterflies like teenager on her first date, I just smile and say “Thanks!”
I think if I do that enough, maybe one day I’ll actually believe it.