Arrogantly Beautiful

Maggie: If I told you “you’re pretty,” what would you say?

Kate: I’d say, “Thanks, Maggie! You’re the best. You’re so pretty!”

This blog post from Healthy Girl made me think a lot about arrogance. OK, well, maybe not a lot, because I’m actually bad at thinking a lot. My thinking occurs in short bursts, and in between I have to eat a snack and check Facebook. Not even exaggerating. Maybe understating slightly. People need to be more upfront about different ways to be smart. It’s time to take back our own brains! Say no to the narrow, stereotypical portrayal of the intellectual! I’m here, I have a short attention span, and I’m proud! That could have been catchier.

Right.

So, arrogance.

Healthy Girl feels weird when a random guy compliments her legs. Not because he is totally creepy. But because she feels like her legs are just not that complimentable. (It’s a word now. You don’t need to look it up, just trust me.) I know what she’s talking about. It’s ridiculous. Yesterday these two guys walked by me as I was turning a corner onto 81st between Amsterdam and Broadway, and they both started calling things at me. I didn’t look at them, I just kept walking, but I responded internally to everything (that I could understand) that they said.

Guy: DAMN!! Them boots is made for walkin!”

Me: “Yes, these are definitely really cute boots. They were a good choice. I love wearing them.”

Guy: “She lookin’ GOOD!”

Me: “Hmm… This is a good outfit, and I look good, but GOOD? Maybe he just didn’t see my face that well.”

Guy: “Girl know how to wear some JEANS.”

Me: “Now that is true. My butt is awesome.”

Me a little later, still thinking about it: “Although….I’d have to say my butt is not as awesome as —(notices girl in unbelievably tight white pants across the street) that girl’s, for example. Maybe if those guys had seen her, they wouldn’t have said anything to me. I probably shouldn’t go around thinking my butt is awesome. That’s really arrogant.”

See? See how this works?

So then, between eating half a grilled cheese with tuna and eating the second half of a grilled cheese with tuna, I thought about the function of arrogance in the evaluation of the self- aesthetic. Because I think in sentences like that.

Why am I, and so many other people, afraid to be confident? Wouldn’t it make my life easier if when someone told me I looked good, I could just agree, and we could call it a day?

Here’s what I think it might be: If someone sounds arrogant, then it’s OK to criticize them. In a way, they’re asking for it. So when you say, “I look amazing,” it’s almost like someone is more likely to tell you what they really think by saying, “Um….Not really.” And then suddenly it wasn’t worth it, because you feel terrible.

Sidenote: I LOVE this post by an awesome blogger named Tiffany, because when someone said something mean about her appearance, she didn’t believe it for a second. THAT is success.  Not arrogance. But honesty.

It’s amazing that I can sometimes feel with such certainty that I’m unattractive, but am never completely convinced that I’m beautiful. I feel comfortable saying, “Oh, no, my hair is AWFUL today.” But it’s almost impossible to say, “Yeah, I know, my legs are great.”

Maybe we need to rethink arrogance. It isn’t really fair that guys on the street get to think I look better than I think I do. What the hell do they know? I see myself every single day. I even get to see myself naked.

And, I mean, seriously, my butt IS awesome.

*********

Un-Roast: My butt, of course. It’s awesome. Maybe I should say that a couple more times. I don’t think you’ve heard it enough.

Everyone: Well? When is OK to sound “arrogant”? And, as always, what do you love about yourself today? (Boys, too!)

21 Comments »

Kate on April 28th 2010 in beauty, body

21 Responses to “Arrogantly Beautiful”

  1. Kaila responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    I feel as though when you’re around other girls who you know are less confident, it isn’t okay to be arrogant. If you know a girl you’re hanging out with doesn’t have the best opinion of her appearance, and she says “Wow, that shirt looks good on you” I probably won’t respond with “Thanks, I think so too” or anything to that effect. Also, today I love my eyes. I am sick and my eyes still look pretty good. Now that I think about it, my eyes are usually pretty reliable…I mean you can’t really have a bad eye day.

  2. Cindy responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    I am thinking there is a difference between healthy confidence and arrogance.

    we all know the difference.

    Now those guys were NOT paying you a compliment. they were being jerks. (in my opinion) and junk like that is so offensive to me.

    if they were truly wanting to be respectful…they might have smiled as you passed by…etc. A NICE compliment is easy to pick out. It doesn’t leave you feeling gross and cofused and well, gross.

    but shouting out comments like that is degrading (whether or not it’s true)

    we need to be so much less affected by the outside world. why is it we give SO MUCH POWER to others and what they think and say. How much of their opinions are not even true, or jaded by their own issues or jealousy or just their ICK

    We need to remember each and every day we ROCK just because we do. We each have so much more to offer our world than how awesome our hair looks today.

    it’s hair.
    it frizzes. that’s life.

    Don’t give caddy girls or jerk guys the POWER to derail a perfectly great day with their bad juju!

    just DON’T
    we spend SO MUCH precious energy fighting this mental crap. Save it for better things.

    xoxoxo
    besides, practice accepting a good compliemnt…
    still working on it over here!

    happy Wednesday

  3. Joanne responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    “It’s amazing that I can sometimes feel with such certainty that I’m unattractive, but am never completely convinced that I’m beautiful. I feel comfortable saying, “Oh, no, my hair is AWFUL today.” But it’s almost impossible to say, “Yeah, I know, my legs are great.””

    Did you see Mean Girls? It reminds me of that scene where the Plastics stand in front of a mirror and criticize their body and faces, and the main character, the previously homeschooled girl brought up without these sort of issues, has no idea what to do. But we should have a right to feel good about ourselves… it’s not fair to label that as “arrogant” – just confident in one’s one ability. To me, “arrogance” means that what you have to offer is better than what everyone else has to offer. Maybe women can get arrogant when talking about their own looks because of the beauty-pageant-esque nature some people (both men and women) tend to have, constantly comparing women to each other.

    Bad eye day = pink eye… :’(

  4. Joanne responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    …just to add: the sort of comparisons that people in our lives do definitely influence us to think that way about ourselves.

  5. Tori responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    This is an interesting topic, and one that’s been rather close to me lately. I’ve always been a bit larger than most girls, and haven’t ever felt truely beautiful. It just seems strange that anyone would think that way about me. But as I’ve grown up and am pretty much a woman now (weird to think I’m not just a kid anymore) men have been paying me a lot more attention. It’s really hard for me to swallow compliments, because I’ve spent such a long time KNOWING that what I am isn’t “it.” It’s come to a point, though, where I’m beginning to see what these guys are talking about. I am attractive, and it’s OK and it’s even good to think that. Confidence is an awesome feeling, and we should all experience it.

  6. Emily responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    I love this post and I love getting called at by strangers on the street. Sure, it’s strange and you wonder what exactly they think is going to happen as a result, but it really does give you a little boost of self confidence. YOU are inciting strangers to SHOUT compliments to you. It’s pretty cool.
    I know that not everyone is a fan of this. People don’t want to be objectified. But seriously, let’s allow for a little objectification in our lives. Our bodies are apart of our selves so it’s kind of great when they get complimented. When it’s a total stranger, all the better, you don’t have to worry about things getting awkward.

    Also, I am so interested by this whole phenomena of down talking ourselves. Why do we need to hedge anything we say about ourselves with some insult? The other day I was involved in a listening exercise. One person actively listened while the other spoke for three minutes, uninterrupted. The challenge was that the topic of conversation was “things you like about yourself.” It was amazing at how uncomfortable it was to talk for three minutes about this. The girl talking to me kept apologizing, and saying things like.. well.. i guess people say this about me.. or.. i don’t really like this but i guess if I had to pick….

    Let’s just be bold and say what we like about ourselves!

    Unroast: Today I am liking my hair. It is unruly and damaged but I love how thick it is. yesterday I brushed it into a giant ball of frizz and then pinned back a few strands. it looked pretty high fashion and awesome :)

  7. Kate responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    @Tori– Check out my friend Elizabeth’s blog: Plus-Size Models Unite (http://plussizemodelsunite.com/). It’s awesome. Good for you for starting to feel confident!! There should never be some sort of weird size limit to beauty.

    @Emily
    Thank you so much for being totally upfront here. Way to just say what you’re thinking, without having to apologize or adjust for political correctness. I’m all about what women are actually saying, not what people say women should be feeling/experiencing. For that matter, I’m all about what men are actually saying. For some women, getting called at is degrading (Cindy, I hear you! And that’s a completely understandable reaction). For some, it’s empowering. I don’t see any reason why it can’t be both.

  8. Cindy responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    I have to laugh at this…

    Emily you make such great points, and still, when I re-read the comments that were said to Kate, my skin crawls…still.

    I think our personal sensitivites plays a part too. (says the ultra sensitive lady here)

    I think there is a distinct difference between being able to be happy with our own bodies, have confidence and even have the ability to toot your own horn (so to speak)

    Do you know, my husband has worked with me for YEARS on this…
    Men have treated me very horribly in the past. (that’s an understatement) Very few these days are even allowed in my inner life… so when a stranger on the street gives me a cat call…(it’s been a while HAHA) I want to run, no that’s not true anymore…I don’t run, I turn around and SWING….because my brain wonders what they want from me.

    funny, no?

    I’d rather have a quiet smile or nod from a stranger. That MAKES MY DAY. That speaks volumes to me.

    but I’m older and married. haha my sons tell me I’m pretty and I know my hubster thinks I’m a hottie, so I’m good!

    It’s actually an amazing concept to grasp that your man of more than 10 years thinks you rock, even after a baby. I’ll take it!

    Thanks for a different view point Emily! you made me think twice about how I felt about it.

    yup
    still don’t like it, but at least i know why!
    :)

    have a great day ladies!

  9. rachel responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    I feel compelled to weigh in on the cat calling issue. It’s offensive and objectifying because of what merits the “compliment.” Often the thing being complimented isn’t something the woman has any control over – despite all the hours women spend dieting and exercising a growing body of research suggests that there is only a limited amount of change we can make ti the bodies we’re born into – and when they are things we control, like what clothes we are wearing or how we’ve done our hair, the ‘compliment’ congratulates us on buying in (pun intended) to superficial values. At the heart of these values is the idea that women be subordinated to male pleasure, so if I man compliments the way we walk in a our boots, what he means is he’s glad we’re giving him something to look at.

    I don’t mean to imply that looks never matter, but the way we look doesn’t have to reduce to sex appeal.

  10. Wei-Wei responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    I’ve never been cat-called, or even really complimented by a member of the opposite sex. I have, however, been complimented on things like my choice of clothing… even if only by my friends. Usually I just thank them and smile… I’d definitely feel uncomfortable saying “Thanks, I like them too!”

    I have an irrational fear of sounding arrogant. I’ve always hated those people who were so arrogant and self-confident especially when all I could see in myself was bad, fat, stupid, etc… I don’t like sounding arrogant because it seems a little selfish, and besides, I’ve always been modest. In my world, if someone compliments you, you have to compliment them back, otherwise it’s a little… rude, I guess?

    I think it’s a little sad… I’m not the type of person to attract compliments, really, so it doesn’t make much of a difference :(

    Wei-Wei

  11. Jamie responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    It’s really hard to believe good things about ourselves. It doesn’t just relate to my body image, either, it’s in my work life and other areas. It’s just easier to beat ourselves down than build ourselves up, for some reason. I don’t know why!

  12. Kate responded on 28 Apr 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    @Everyone
    Just to clarify: When I use the word “arrogance,” I’m talking about how we perceive ourselves when we’re confident. Not actual arrogance. Actual arrogance is something I definitely disapprove of!

  13. Ali responded on 29 Apr 2010 at 12:35 am #

    I have to say I like getting cat-called as well. I’m not sure I can say I’m proud of it, but like Emily, I do find it a confidence-booster. That being said, I think it would be MUCH better if I just had sufficient confidence from within, instead of relying on either strangers or people I know.

  14. Karyn responded on 29 Apr 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Ali,
    I agree with you. A cat call every now and again reminds us we can be sexy to someone who doesn’t know us and our mood swings or bad habits. To me, it is similar to being in a grocery store alone and you are getting a good look up and down by the cute guy in the next line over from you. And when you get it on a day when you know you are looking exceptional, well, the confidence level just goes sky high.

  15. Amanda responded on 29 Apr 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    I love your post. I have thought the same thing so many times. You are so great at articulating those feelings. So often I stop myself from thinking I’m great because I know that someone will surely come around to knock me down!

  16. Millemma responded on 21 May 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    I like my hair. It’s kind of red-ish brown colour, but it’s…hardy. I can trek through the Amazon for five days without a shower, and it will still look freshly-washed. Of course, it won’t smell it…
    I also like my butt, but I must admit I never knew I had a particularly attractive behind until I found out that everyone at the club I most frequented called me “that girl with the great ass.” and when I found out I was embarrassed, for some reason.

    I’m five months pregnant, and I’ve never had this much fun buying clothes before in my life. I always hated my belly, but now it’s supposed to be big. I can even emphasize it’s big-and-roundness, and only feel prettier for it. I suddenly find that I don’t hate trying on clothes, in fact I find it fun. I hope I still have the courage to wear my new horizontally-striped dress when I’m no longer pregnant. But this new experience… suddenly liking shopping for clothes, which I’ve always hated sort of made me realize how my body hang-ups have been robbing me of pleasurable experiences.

  17. Millemma responded on 21 May 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    …of course, it’s entirely possible that I just really like having big tits.

  18. Mongoose6 responded on 22 May 2010 at 10:26 am #

    @Emily

    I am very confident in my appearance, but I hate hate hate cat-calling. It’s not so much the objectification, though that’s not great. It’s the fact that men are imposing themselves on my person, and I feel threatened by them. I think cat-calling is the epitome of hetero male privilege – “Because I think you are hot, and my opinion matters, you will be grateful for my attention.” I, however, do not walk down the street for the consumption of others; I walk down the street because I’m trying to get somewhere. I don’t want to be made uncomfortable on my way there.

    http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/03/18/cat-calling-bystander-sexism-and-how-sexual-harassment-hurts-men/

  19. Eat the Damn Cake » Getting Checked Out By Guys With Wives responded on 14 Jun 2010 at 11:41 am #

    [...] nice to get checked out sometimes. It feels appreciative. But I’m already preparing myself for never getting checked out again. And [...]

  20. Eat the Damn Cake » A quick test to find out how much you care about beauty responded on 12 Jul 2010 at 9:41 am #

    [...] that. More people should be having that exact conversation about me. Every day. Ok, ok, blatant arrogance aside, my looks shouldn’t be the point. They should play a decidedly supportive [...]

  21. Rania responded on 16 Jul 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    I love your blog. My sister sent it to me, and I just can’t stop reading it. It’s like you say all the things nobody says. I want to be your friend!!

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