Open Question: To Be Confident or Humble?

confident-womanIs it greater to have confidence in yourself or be more humble? And is it possible to be both at the same time?

It is one of the greatest ironies of life — people are encouraged to have confidence in who they are and believe in their worth, at the same time they are discouraged from displaying too much confidence. Instead they are told to stay humble and are praised for presenting themselves as unassuming and self-effacing, especially when their accomplishments or skills appear to be more praiseworthy. Public figures are criticized for displaying pride in their achievements, those who are lauded as attractive or intelligent are chastised if they note such qualities in themselves.

Thus confusion is created; most are unsure if they should show any confidence in their innate gifts or practiced skills. How much confidence is too much, when is it warranted, and when will it be considered arrogance? Perhaps it would be better to display humility, after all, it is a virtue.

Due to being unsure of what side of the fence they should be on, some end up choosing one side over the other — complete confidence or utter humility. As a result these people are labeled as arrogant or lacking in self-esteem. No matter which you choose, you can’t win.

So today I’m wondering: do you personally find it better for a person to be confident or humble? Which are you and which would you like to be: confident or humble?

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“I Have No Female Friends”, Part 2

woman-envyTo round up this month’s attempts by women to set back the Women’s Movement and themselves, this is an article response to another blogger’s thoughts on the original post “I Have No Female Friends”.

The response is entitled, Women Who Don’t Have Female Friends, and begins:

Earlier this week I found these blog posts about women who say they don’t have female friends. It reminded me of a discussion forum I found online some time ago with a similar discussion about women who say they don’t get along with women. In both cases, the discussion about these women was negative and full of assumptions about women who say these things.

After which the author proceeds to make countless negative statements and assumptions about women as a group, and numerous other amazing statements.

-“The majority of women don’t feel good about themselves.”

Besides that this is an overreaching statement, it is contradicting the entire post — to make a post deriding assumptions, then proceed to make your own.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the author, or she fails to mention, that her superior and belittling attitude towards women might be noticed by them, and disliked by them. If all people would believe that women don’t feel good about themselves, the author would find herself in a bad position.

-“I think saying men and women are not that different is PC bullschitt. Men and women are different, whether it’s because of society or biology or a mix. It’s fine to admit that.”

I think saying men and women are totally different is conservative and closed-minded. I would never say men and women do not have their differences but painting them as two sub-species is not something I’d ever do, and not something I’d expect from any intelligent and open-minded person. Experience and research tells me they aren’t nearly as different in their basic motivations as our brains would like to make them out to be.

To use the author’s own example, there are logical women and emotional men. A person’s outward behavior does not always or even usually reflect who inwardly are. Yes men and women are socialized differently, but those differences may affect only the social. Men lean toward the rational because that’s what’s accepted and expected of them, but their core personality may be quite different.

-“I feel good about who I am because I know I’m intelligent, talented, a good person and so on…the biggest thing with women, I’d say, is more than half of heterosexual ones strike me as not thinking they’re complete or good enough if they don’t have a man or a husband.”

The problem with this statement is that it is a judgment against women who have a strong desire for love, as if that is wrong. Everyone has something they wouldn’t feel complete without, and the love of a man doesn’t seem any worse than others. But whether it is wrong or not is not so important. What is glaring is that in a post about how judging other women is wrong, there is so much judging.

-“Personally, I’d love to find even just one woman who can talk football all day–I really would. Sure, there are women out there who like football. It’s not even unusual to find women who love football. I just simply have never known another woman who lives and breathes football”

The author needs an award because she loves football. Unlike every other woman on earth, she likes football, and that makes her truly unique.

It’s ironic that the author is in fact, feeding right into the original hypothesis that women who claim to have female friends feel that they are “special” and different from other women, and these differences make them better.

-“I understand that some of the women over at the blog link try to make a distinction between women who seem proud of not having female friends and other women who don’t have female friends, but it seems like a half-hearted attempt… As far as I read, they also failed to state or point out that saying you don’t have female friends sometimes is…well…simply a statement of fact.”

“As far as I read” would be the key statement here.

That “I have no female friends” is a statement of fact for a woman saying it was never in question, the question was why. Why do they make these statements and what sort of mindset do they have?

Judging from this response and the author’s own words, the author didn’t actually read the article or the comments following. This might have come in handy, in making stronger arguments against the original article; arguments that didn’t prove the point.

Note: All snark in this post was intentionally kept to a bare minimum

The Ban of Underweight Models

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Anja Rubik for Quazi Fall 2010

Underweight models are declared banished from advertising and runway, but is the backlash against the uber-skinny trend fair or even realistic?

This year several factions of the fashion world took the step that no one thought they ever would — they declared that underweight models, i.e. those with a Body Mass Index under 18.5, will not be allowed to participate in advertising and runways. While some declared, “Finally!”, others claimed this move against skinnier models is discrimination against the naturally underweight, a small but real part of the female population.

Among the countries participating in the ban are Israel, Italy, and Spain, who was among the first to ban underweight models in 2006. The countries’ bans vary — some say no to underweight models in local advertising, while others like Spain ban models in fashion shows, whose popular Madrid Fashion Week 2006 refused one-third of past participants who were declared underweight. Most notably, however, is Vogue Magazine’s ban in the summer of 2012. The editors of the well-respected international fashion magazine, known for launching the career of many a model, signed an agreement not to use models who appear to have an eating disorder.

Those involved say they have many objectives with this ban of underweight models, including:

  • Ensuring the health of models — being extremely underweight causes health risks and past models have died from complications of low weight.
  • Promoting a healthy body image — those in the modeling world understand that many young girls and women look to their models as the height of beauty and strive to look like them. Having very skinny models presents an unhealthy and unrealistic body image for women.
  • Working against eating disorders — in their quest to become “model thin”, models, and even women who are not models, develop an unhealthy relationship with food. An estimated 20 to 40 percent of models are thought to have an eating disorder and women who read magazines and watch runway shows are more likely to develop an eating disorder.

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Objectification Is Not Equal Opportunity

male-objectificationHaving previously discussed objectification of women and the female beauty bind, I was once asked the question, “What about men? Shouldn’t men be included in this topic? To which my first thought was “Yes, what about them?”

In the interest of fairness (or in other cases, diversion), some believe that the increasing sexual objectification of men should be considered along with the well-known issue of female objectification. After all, there are male strippers and prostitutes, the bodybuilding industry is held afloat almost entirely by men, and plastic surgery among men is at an all-time high. This is true — more than ever before, men are being judged and assessed for how well their appearance fits a certain beauty standard.

However, objectification, and particularly sexual objectification requires that a person be seen as simply a vessel or a painting — to be admired primarily or solely for their beauty and the physical pleasure it brings, with no regard to their humanity. Are men made into objects whose worth is based on their looks? Perhaps on an individual basis, but on a wider scale, my answer would be no.

Appearance may matter, but other factors come into play in determining whether a man is “high value” or not. Personality, confidence, education, and of course career and income. All of these factors can and do override a man’s physical appearance, and looks are not generally considered more important. The same simply can not be said for women and their daily experiences.

On the other hand, as a group, women are sexually objectified — that is, their sexual attractiveness and beauty (or subjective lack of) is considered to be one of the more important aspects of their being, if not the most important. Personality, charm, and other attributes are considered later, if ever. Any woman knows this; regardless of any personal accomplishments, the first question to be asked is, “But is she good-looking?” If the answer is no, then everything else about her falls by the wayside. If the answer is yes, then again, all other traits are overshadowed. That is the definition of objectification.

So again, what about men? Male sexual objectification is on the rise, and shouldn’t be dismissed. Men getting regular eyebrow waxes and pedicures can be considered a topic of interest. But the issue is simply nowhere near that of women — there are more pressing issues for men in today’s society. In other words, sexual objectification is not equal opportunity.

What do you think — agree or disagree? Share your thoughts below.

Life and Times of the Love Junkie

love-wanted

Are you addicted to love?

The love junkie is quite simply, hooked on love and romance. Whereas some people fall in love with individuals and the experience of being with them, love junkies are primarily in love with love. The love junkie’s life revolves around love, romance, and relationships and even when not in a relationship, relationships and love remain their priority and primary mental focus.

The truth is, the love junkie does not feel truly complete without love and romance, although they may not recognize this fact. Many believe that a full life can’t be lived without a partner. So the love junkie will often be found in a relationship, and will not end one unless they have no other option, or another potential partner is available. Which is a  significant point to note about the love junkie — what’s most important is that they have a partner, not so much anything specific about that person.

Love junkies differ from other romance addicts in one major way: they actually care about their partners. Although their mate can be seen in a way as a means to the end of obtaining love, the love junkie does love them and is usually  in love with them. But they could have just as easily been in love with someone else.

None of this is to say that love junkies are insincere or “bad” people. Not at all. Everyone has their motivation in life — what drives them and makes living worthwhile. The love junkie’s motivation just happens to be love and relationships. They can’t be faulted for that, although it’s important to be able to recognize a love junkie. Some of their more clear traits and behaviors include:

  • A tendency to gain strong feelings for anyone new they are involved with or the potential to be involved with. Oftentimes they will feel that they are in love, after a relatively short amount of time.
  • Idealizing their partner and ignoring the faults of partners (or potential partners).
  • Daydreaming about their partner when not together and considering time with their partner to be far and away the highlight of their day, if not their life.
  • A strong dislike for being without a relationship and a clear renewal of happiness when in a new relationship.
  • A love of romantic stories, movies, and songs which highlight the passionate feelings of love.
  • Tendency towards jealousy, though they try to hide it.
  • May enter into a relationship simply to be in one, even if the relationship does not satisfy their needs.
  • Willingness to suffer strongly or ignore their needs to keep a relationship.
  • Thinking and claiming that every partner they become involved with is “the one” or “perfect” for them.
  • When their love life isn’t going well, their life isn’t going well — their satisfaction with being depends on the state of their relationships

Love junkies will have many of these traits in varying degrees, though they may not have all. Having one or two of these tendencies doesn’t make you a love junkie but if you find yourself agreeing with many of the points, you might just be a love junkie. In fact, if you’re reading this, you probably are one or know one.

How many points do you check off? Are you a love junkie?

Open Question: Are You Anti-Fat? And Why?

fat-phobia

As discussed in a previous article The World is Anti-Fat, anti-fat prejudice is one of the most widespread prejudices. Unlike many other prejudices anti-fat discrimination mostly goes undetected and unchallenged. In fact, in many areas, the fat phobic mentality and subsequent anti-fat prejudice is actively encouraged.

In the earlier mentioned post, I covered some reasons that I, and others, believe that people become anti-fat. The biggest of these reasons being the idea that people have control over their weight and as such they are responsible for keeping their weight under control. And they are also responsible if they fail to keep their weight in check.

Anti-fat prejudice goes unchallenged because many fail to see what is wrong with it. What is so bad about encouraging people to eat healthy, be a healthy weight, to become more disciplined and control their eating? To some, anti-fatness is not a prejudice. But the effects of anti-fat prejudice on overweight and obese people, and all people, are many. In striving to fight fat, many cultures have created new issues in its place, such as ever-increasing rates of anorexia and bulimia and decreasing self-esteem.

But I would like to make the question of what causes a nearly global anti-fat culture an open one. Why do you think people are anti-fat and/or fat-phobic? Why are you anti-fat?

Enneagram: The Basics of Personality

enneagram-map

The Enneagram of Personality is a personality typing system which divides human personality into nine distinct yet interrelated types. The types are numbered from 1 through 9. Each type is defined by a major concern or mindset which forms the basis of a person’s larger personality, behavior, and actions. It is believed that a person’s type is formed in childhood and stays with them for the rest of their life, unchanging.

The Enneagram system derives from ancient teachings which were re-introduced to wider society by psychiatrists and spiritual teachers in the 19oos. It is used by people, schools, and employers to better understand personality in order to understand how it influences interpersonal dynamics. However, some still use it as it was originally presented: as a path to self-understanding and spiritual awareness.

The Three Centers

The nine types are divided into three centers, with each center containing three types. These centers are known as the Heart, Head, and Gut. Knowing which center your personality falls in will help you in determining your type and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

  • Heart Center: This center is also known as the Feeling Center and contains types Two,Three, and Four. The Heart Center is emotion-based and types in this center focus on relationships — with themselves or others. They are constantly aware of their relationship to the world. They are either being affected or are affecting others.
  • Head Center: The Head Center is s0metimes called the Thinking Center. The primary concern of types Five, Six, and Seven which make up the Head Center is thinking and reflecting on the world and their experiences. These types can be anxious or withdrawn due to their inward focus on understanding. In contrast to the Heart Center, those of the Head Center approach themselves and others with the mind first.
  • Gut Center: Those belonging to the Gut or Instinctive Center react first, reflect later. The three types of this center are Eight, Nine, and One and each shows a way of reacting to stimuli from the outside world. Those of the Gut Center can be direct and confrontational, or withdrawn and compliant depending on their orientation.

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

body-dysmorphic-disorderBody Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological disorder where a person is preoccupied with a real or imagined defect in their physical appearance. A person affected by BDD may be so concerned about a flaw in their appearance that they become depressed or socially isolate themselves out of shame. They may even contemplate suicide. If you constantly worry about a physical feature and how you can change it or cover it up, you may be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

People with BDD generally don’t have other major issues with their self-image. They simply believe that this one flaw damages their entire appearance. Many times other people disagree with them and don’t think their fixation is all that problematic, if it exists at all. But the person affected by BDD can not be consoled; they are convinced that they are unbearably imperfect.

Men and women are affected by BDD in equal numbers. You may be more prone to BDD if a relative has it, and environmental pressures such as peers, parents, and media increase your focus on physical appearance. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is also highly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Some symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:

  • Constant thoughts about your perceived physical defect and your overall physical appearance — may be up to hours a day
  • Belief that your flaw makes you unattractive
  • Compulsive behaviors such as constant mirror-checking and touching of the flawed area
  • Feelings of self-consciousness while in the presence of others
  • Deep feelings of shame
  • Obsessive thoughts of plastic surgery and/or having plastic surgery (perhaps more than once) to fix feature and remaining unsatisfied
  • Refusing to take pictures
  • Wearing excessive make-up or clothing to cover flaw

Those with BDD most commonly focus on their skin, hair, weight, or nose as. BDD tends to be under-diagnosed because it is confused with depression, social phobia, or low self-esteem. BDD sufferers who fixate on their weight may be thought to have an eating disorder.

One effective treatment for BDD is cognitive behavioral therapy, where a person learns the roots of their unhealthy thoughts and feelings. Once the BDD sufferer learns why they think the way they do, they can then work on moving to more productive patterns of thinking and behavior. But for you to overcome BDD you have to make the change yourself — no one else can make it for you.

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Women and the Beauty Bind

woman-foot-chainsThe beauty bind is the dilemma that nearly every woman around the world, young or old, past or present, faces in their life. You probably already know a lot about the beauty bind or at least have some experience with it. The beauty binds refers to the fact that women are judged on their appearance no matter what. Whether the judgment is positive, negative, or neutral, there is no avoiding it.

Times have changed somewhat — the modern man also has to deal with being judged on his physical appearance. But his physical appearance is not used as a gauge of his worth and value as a person. Unlike men, who can be considered desirable based on other traits — a remarkable personality or bank account — a woman is judged mainly (and sometimes only) on her looks. Other parts of her may be considered, but only once her appearance is assessed for its worthiness.

The beauty bind is inescapable because whether or not a woman chooses to play the beauty game she is a contestant. And whether she is deemed attractive or not, her looks are used as a way give to or take away from her womanhood.

The Unattractive

A woman who is considered unattractive is denied her full femininity and power as a woman. She can be as intelligent and interesting as she wants, but if her physical appearance is judged as lacking, she is judged as lacking. After all, a true woman is pretty and feminine.

If she is particularly accomplished, her looks become a way to take away from her achievements. She is ridiculed and portrayed as less than — she might be worldly successful, but she’s still an ugly woman and that evens the score. Men and women alike are reassured by this and take solace in the fact that she doesn’t have it all.

The Beautiful

A woman who is assessed as particularly beautiful is also denied her full womanhood. She is made into a caricature and is not taken as seriously. Her looks are made the primary focus of her being; nothing else is as important. Others assume she has cruised by in life and doesn’t have much to offer besides good looks. Any successes she has are viewed in light of her physical appearance and given lesser value.

Although the beautiful woman is given certain advantages, she is also disadvantaged. Men and women envy the advantages she is given and women, who are also caught in the beauty bind, judge her even more harshly than men do. They too want to be considered part of the Beautiful Elite, but if they can’t, they can have some power over beautiful women by becoming their worst critics.

Few people discuss the beauty bind as it has become woven into the fabric that makes up most societies and is viewed as normal. But some people recognized that the major results of the beauty bind are not so beautiful. Self-objectification, female competition, and self-worth issues abound.

So what is the key to releasing women from the beauty bind? Well, that remains to be seen. In the meantime you could ask yourself if and how you contribute to the beauty binding of yourself or others.

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Who Likes a Narcissist?

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Hugh Laurie as Gregory House, M.D.

Did you know that people who rank high on the traits of narcissism are more popular and likeable at first meeting?

Narcissism is a strong sense of self-importance, combined with self-focus and extremely high levels of self-esteem. The basic aspects of narcissism are arrogance, low empathy, a liking for leadership and authority, self-admiration, and a tendency to exploit or manipulate others. Narcissists usually have difficulty with long-term relationships and relationships in general, since their extreme self-focus hinders them from getting along well with others.

It has long been suspected that a large number of narcissists take part in public arenas such as the performing arts or are in leadership positions like politics and business. And this theory may have support in the findings of a few studies that, initially, narcissists are seen as more agreeable, competent, and well-adjusted than non-narcissists.These traits allow them to gain the trust of others who help them to gain positions of fame and authority.

But why are narcissists so popular with other people? The reason is very simple — narcissists exhibit traits which people tend to like in others: confidence, attractiveness, warmth, and humor.

1. Confidence

Narcissists, having a strong sense of self-importance and esteem, exude confidence in their body movements and expressions. And this isn’t just for appearances. Narcissists are very assured in themselves and their abilities; they tend to believe few people are as special as they are.

2. Attractiveness

Narcissists crave positive feedback that confirms their sense of superiority. So they put much effort into their physical appearance, dressing in neat and eye-catching clothing and playing up their physical features. Their appearance gains the attention and affirmation of others.

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Tyra Banks, supermodel and TV personality

3. Warmth

Despite not being very empathic, narcissists know well how to behave friendly and sociable. They are charming and fun, realizing that these traits are attractive to others. Their strong social skills get them the admiration they want, and feel as if they deserve.

4. Humor

Everyone likes a funny person, right? Narcissists are aware of this, since they are very observant of others and their reactions. As a result they are fond of humor, using jokes and witty expressions to allure other people and, as always, gain their admiration and affection. And they do, at least for a little while.

These traits are not just appealing to others. If a person has all four of these characteristics, the likelihood of them being a narcissist is increased. So next time you meet someone who checks off all the boxes, instead of being impressed by them, you might want to be cautious. Narcissists are only likeable in the short-term — their self-involvement and lack of concern for others ultimately troubles their relationships and the people around them.

And the answer to “Who likes a narcissist?” Why, you, of course.

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