Friday, May 31, 2013

pride vs. narcissism: food for thought

so i just finished this really great book called beauty queens by libba bray, about a plane full of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a deserted island. it's fucking hilarious, and yet also gets you thinking about feminism and society and corporate commercialism and the downfall of humanity in general. there's a part in it that really made me think, where one of the main characters, adina, is making her case to be elected team leader of the group of surviving girls. when she makes her speech she states all of her good leadership qualities with no shyness or humility, just unabashed pride in her skills and faith that she could be a strong leader. she is outvoted and another girl is elected team leader. later adina's friend mary lou explains to her that she thinks the reason adina got outvoted was because she was so open about her skills. she stated what she was good at with no shame or hesitation. according to mary lou, this tends to be off-putting, and usually pride in your skills is more well-received when prompted by a compliment. and even when you're complimented, mary lou insists that you're supposed to protest or question the compliment to make it seem like you're more humble. you can tell that both mary lou and adina think that concept is bullshit, yet they acknowledge that it's actually kind of true. and it is. that's what society expects of us. women aren't supposed to take obvious pride in their talents.

this issue was brought to my mind again when i was reading this rookie article, which talks about how women who are openly invested in and proud of their art are often criticized and called narcissistic attention whores. a woman can be a very talented actress and writer or director or producer, like lena dunham, mindy kaling or tina fey, but GOD FORBID they actually STAR in their OWN SHOW. like, that's totally self-obsessed, right? because a woman can't be multi-talented and PROUD OF IT. women who have successful careers in one area, such as acting or music, are often burned at the stake for trying to pursue another area of expertise, because people just don't get that it's OKAY for a woman to have many talents and ideas and make use of them and be invested in them and have faith in them.

of course, i find that this issue is much less common among men. men can brag about themselves and their talents and accomplishments all they want, and they're just "confident" or have a "big personality". not always, but that's what i've noticed in my experience. and i've noticed that the notion that women MUST be humble and meek when it comes to acknowledging their own skills has worked its way into even my subconscious. like, a few months ago i was writing up my resume to apply for my internship, and when i was supposed to list my skills and talents i got really nervous because i really didn't want to seem like i was bragging or being self-absorbed. i almost felt guilty that i had a long list of skills that applied to the internship requirements, because i was afraid of being seen as narcissistic. even though i can sew, draw, write, collage, dance, paint, and do trapeze and circus arts; even though i have tons of skills and talents that i'm proud of, i'm still very hesitant about broadcasting how proud i am of my skills because apparently it's not okay to take pride in your creativity. it's weird, and it bothers me.

just some food for thought: i've had the issue on my mind for a while and felt the need to talk about it. feel free to add your own opinions in the comments section (just be nice) :)


  1. You have some brilliant opinions! If I wasn't already following you, I would follow you again!!!!!
    Hollie xx
    a.k.a Alittleprickly

  2. Love your thoughts on this! And it totally made me want to read Beauty Queens again. :)
    - Lisa

  3. Such a good post! xx

    click for a giveaway on my blog! x

  4. So true... I was just reading a book on English social "rules" of conversations and it was commenting on how women tend to start taking with a compliment, which must be followed by a denial/self depreciating comeback, followed by a comment towards the other person, who replies in the same way, and so on. On the other hand, men tend to have a "mine's better than yours" friendly discussion about anithing fom cars/politics/football. It seems like an awful stereotype but was all based on the athor's research as an anthropologist... :(

  5. WOW! I have just discovered your blog and it is really good! I will definitely be coming back! I have read your whole blog and I think you are an amazing drawer and should be proud of your skills!

  6. Agreed! Ugh I feel so mad at the world everytime I read/think about this matter...

  7. That book sounds genuinely awesome. Also, I think it really sucks that women will only be cast in roles they want if they literally create the whole show. It shouldn't be that hard.

  8. I cannot agree with you more when you said, "it is. that's what society expects of us. women aren't supposed to take obvious pride in their talents." I found your blog through rookie by the way, so yay for our love for rookie <3 Keep writing and doing what you do. Your blog is fab.

    Kelsey x

  9. There's too absolutely much truth in this TOO MUCH. When you list your skills, are you afraid that they'll mistake your assertiveness for bitchiness or that disgusting portrayal of 'try-too-hard-to-be-the-top-dog' image media portrays of successful women? I hope you got that internship, one more qualification to add to that list there is absolutely nothing wrong with that there is almost everything right with that. In my endeavours to become a rationally sound feminist, I try to treat all genders in a similar manner but it's still hard sometimes with most other people being misguided into this mentality and ohh TOO MUCH I say again.
    Thanks for the Rookie article, I can't believe I missed it, looks like a great read!

    I love your blog, please check out mine :)



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