The Un-Roast Post

So un-roasting. It’s the thing I do at the bottom of every post. But I’ve never taken the time to write about it in detail. I am here, blogging (not, you know, here in the world), because I get in a lot of fights. With myself. And I try to tell myself things that just aren’t true.

“You’re ugly.”

“You’re never going to amount to anything.”

“What are you WEARING? Are you kidding me??”

“Oh, that’s just like you. Forgetting where you put your wallet. AGAIN. Give me a break. Like I have all day to just wait around for you to get your act together?”

Sometimes it really sounds like an abusive relationship. Kinda makes you wonder where the line is. I mean, when does it stop sounding like an abusive relationship and actually become one? I would definitely never talk to anyone else the way I talk to myself. I wouldn’t even come close to that level of meanness and insensitivity. People have feelings, after all!

I don’t think I’m falling apart, or desperately in need of a lot of therapy, or seriously disturbed, or even very unconfident. I go out in the world and do things and succeed at things and feel good in my favorite outfits and do well in the occasional competitive environment (except for the pie-eating contest. That was a total bust. How do those little boys eat so fast??).

Actually, I appear to be pretty highly functioning and throughout my life, people have told me I’m smart and impressive and that I’ll definitely succeed at anything I put my mind to. And I have believed them. I still do, to an extent. So I begin to suspect that I might be sort of normal. That part of being a person (especially a woman), for many of us, is to fight that arrogant, totally condescending voice that chimes in when we look in the mirror, “Seriously? You’re going to try to part it like that? Do you even recognize how stupid you look? You don’t. Oh my god. You actually don’t! Ok, honey. Let’s start with how you definitely don’t have the chin for that. We’ll work our way up your face.” (The voice has a very developed personality, apparently.)

So what’s the answer? I’m sure there are a lot of them. But, being a scientist (ok, not really), I figure I’ll address the problem systematically. There are plenty of things I love about myself, I’m just not used to thinking about them in the same way. I’m used to being surprised by them. Like happiness just pops up of its own accord, while negativity is the steady, reliable companion. But happiness isn’t really such a mystery (my friend Emily is actually a happiness researcher. How cool is that?), and feeling good about yourself doesn’t have to be an unexpected treat. So, because I’m ambitious but not incredibly ambitious, I assigned myself the task of un-roasting. Of taking time to consciously identify something I like about myself every day. So far, it’s mostly been physical stuff, because the mean voice is more consistently critical of my physical appearance, but some of you have contributed un-roasts about other aspects of yourselves, and I like that idea. I think I’m going to start expanding my own un-roasts, too.

It sounds so simple it’s almost pointless. So you say you like something about yourself everyday. You can do that anyway, when you look in the mirror. But the thing is, sometimes it’s just better to write it down. To have proof of it. I want to have a record of all the things I love about myself. And also, even when I think I can just talk back to the mean voice, I often forget to. So I’m starting a quiet rebellion. I’m un-roasting myself. And that’s the deal.

And guess what? I think it might actually work.

(image source here)

*  *  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love the way my body looks in the mirror at the gym when I’m doing those pull-up things on the big machine. There’s something strong and lithe about it, and I can see how everything gracefully connects. I also love my grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m not kidding, they are the best thing ever. As in, like, better than world peace. Ok, not quite that good, maybe, but they’re second best.

What about you?

P.S. Check out a recent post at Dances With Fat on a similar (the same, actually) subject.

P.P.S. Thanks to the reader who came up with the term “un-roast.” I’d like to take credit for it, but I’m too good of a person. So I can’t. But I’m not good enough of a person that I remember where I put her name. So if you’re out there, reveal thyself!

P.P.P.S. This is the last one, I promise. You can see yesterday’s piece on the Huffington Post, too, if you feel like viewing it in yet another setting.

* * *

Recent un-roasts:

Virginia: I really do love my eyes, just for starters. They are at least three different shades of blue and that’s pretty awesome. (No matter what size my waist is.)

Rachel: Today I love my butt. I’ve got Jewish curves, and I don’t mind showing that off.

Wei-Wei: Today, I just like my body and how it works. I had an extra hour of dance class, making it 3 hours, and I’m surprised I made it through. Maybe it had to do with all the cake I had beforehand. (French chocolate, strawberry cream, and oreo cheesecake. Just in case you were wondering.)

I was wondering. Wei-Wei, send me photos of yourself with cake!! I want to see!

Everyone: Listen up. PSA: Subscribe to ETDC if you haven’t already and you like me, my writing, my face, or all of the above. I’m going to keep being annoying about this until I have a million readers. A million. Ok, maybe, like, 100,000. What? I dream big!


Kate on June 29th 2010 in beauty, body

18 Responses to “The Un-Roast Post”

  1. Cindy responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Love this.
    And to me, why do we put so much dang focus of our self-worth on the asthetics of ourselves?

    we are MORE than our thighs or our hair, NO? THANK GOD!

    No wonder we freak out at the first sign of aging or losing it, if we’ve spent our entire young days placing all our worth into THAT basket.

    Let’s revel in what our bodies can DO for us as well. Have a baby and you soon appreciate your hips, and your breasts…they get you and your baby through the day (and night)

    YES, your body changes, but for the greater good. I can guarentee, my now 2 year old comes clamoring into MY arms when he gets a boo boo because my upper body is SOFT and comforting. Where Dada’s is hard (those man shoulders …so jealous) haha

    Also…legs. Never liked mine till they ran me 5 miles a month (or so) ago. My hands help me knit fun things, or paint…cook my family meals.

    on and on.

    YES, it’s nice to wake up, and appreciate our wavy bedroom hair, and slim waist…toned upper arms and no cellulite. YES INDEED. HELL YES, that can make our day!

    but why do the hands that care for our families, or our eyes that let us take in every precious moment life offers have lesser value?


    I think, if we really took inventory of the value our bodies bring to us each and every day, we’d be pretty stinking happy with ourselves.

    We might even begin to turn a deaf ear, and a blind eye, to all the marketing bombardment we are exposed to in order get us to buy products or whatever else drives the machine that keeps us enslaved to feeling bad about ourselves.


  2. jennie responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    i love reading your un-roasts! here’s mine: today i love my shoulders. i’ve been doing my chaturanga push-ups in yoga class, and they look strong and wide.

  3. Angela responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I am apart of a blog that promotes healthy body image and self love. I consider myself an active and healthy person. Being a stay at home mother of two, I don’t get out on my runs like I used to and when my husband gets home from work, I don’t want to leave, so when I do exercise, it is with an at home work-out video or a walk with the kids in the stroller. When I was 20, I could just get up and go for a 5 mile run and I would feel great! Well, things have changed! Yesterday, I went on a 4 mile run with a friend, I haven’t ran for 9 months and it was SO hard for me. I have to be honest, it was hard for me to accept that! I couldn’t talk like I used to while we were running and I came home and took a nap! I could barely get up out of bed this morning! So today, I want to give my body some love. I really need to make more time to walk more, go for that run, add variety in my exercise routine, and STRETCH!

  4. Emily responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Your friendly neighborhood happiness researcher here! Just a tip… if you are going to spend the time to figure out what you like about yourself, go beyond that and look for the things you are grateful for. Maybe even be grateful for the things you like about yourself. Studies show that gratitude increases happiness. Focusing on things in a grateful way will be even more effective than just listing what you like (one professor I work with actually did this comparison, having one group of people list ways in which they were better off than others, and another group list things they were grateful for. The gratitude group had a more dramatic increase in positive feelings and satisfaction with life.)

    Un-Roast: this is kind of a meta-unroast. I like that I am confident in myself and not that worried about my flaws. it goes back and forth for sure, but right now I am on a confident streak and when I notice things about myself that are not quite right, i shrug it off pretty easily. it’s nice to be able to do for now, cause it’s not always like that.

  5. Kate responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I’m not sure what the difference is, beyond a semantic one. Isn’t deciding what you like about yourself also deciding what you’re grateful for, just without the word “gratitude”? Or does adding that word change something critical about the way we think about the issue?

  6. rachel responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    I’m interested in the difference gratitude makes. I think one pitfall of merely listing things we like about ourselves, or ways in which we are well off is that we can forget how we came to be that way and think of ourselves too much in a vacuum. So it’s the difference between, “I like my butt” and “I’m grateful for the people in my life that make me feel like having a round tush is sexy.” And which is going to make you feel happier, the physical feature or the person appreciating it?

  7. rachel responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    PS. I would note that asking people to ‘list ways in which they were better off than others,’ as Emily’s colleague did, can lead to guilty feelings, especially if this was how the question was posed. I’d venture that comparing one’s self to other people, whether that means saying you have more or less than them, rarely leads to deep fulfillment or happiness.

  8. Justine responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Thanks to you and your commenter for creating the “un-roast”, it’s a great idea!

    Un-roast: With your mention about un-roasting other aspects of ourselves, my un-roast of the day is my cooking. Ever since I lost my job I’ve been cooking all the time and now it’s like second nature. I feel like I can finally cook (and bake!) for real, the way my mom always has, and that makes me proud—and I don’t think it makes me any less a feminist, quite the contrary in fact!

  9. Angela @ A Healthy Fit responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I love your unroasts. I am like you and tell myself all sorts of crazy things. The only thing we can do to change those negative voices is to have the positive ones talk louder. Keep it up!

  10. Elizabeth responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Congrats on your Huffington Post article, Kate! That is awesome.

    Today I love that I am being more honest/blunt/direct while still being kind and respectful. It’s working out well and I feel so much stronger.

  11. Wei-Wei responded on 30 Jun 2010 at 4:56 am #

    I used to even WRITE DOWN all these horrible insults and “you fat @#($*!” to myself back when I was a “wannarexic”… then the things written down began to pop up in my head of their own accord, and tore my self esteem down into little shreds. I’m still working on it, and I’m still not used to “admiring” myself/my body. It’s a gradual process, I guess, but I think we can all get there. ;)

    And yes, the next time I eat cake, I’ll take a picture. Gives me a reason to go to that restaurant again ;D


    PS: Today, I love my feet. I noticed how annoyingly wide they look in flats (squidge, squidge, squidge) but then again, doesn’t that mean I can walk more steadily? More surface area? Besides, a larger base means steadier dancing. Sorry I’ve been mentioning dancing so much, but I guess that’s something else I love about myself.

  12. Natalie responded on 30 Jun 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    I love this blog. It’s the only one I read every day. Le sigh…you’re SO hilarity (word misuse, I know, but I don’t care) and genuine and astute and I love, LOVE seeing the little email in my inbox that says there’s a new post from Eat the Damn Cake. Le sigh.

    At the risk of trivializing your wise comments about self-abuse, please read the following article from The Onion, which, naturally, is brilliant:,1086/

    On a more serious note, this blog actually HELPS my self-abuse because through reading it I realize that I’m not the only one who thinks these (body image, self-confidence, food obsession, love of dessert, etc) things. One line you wrote a couple posts ago really struck me. You said something about how when you look at other women and they aren’t stick thin, you have no problem finding them attractive, but with yourself, it’s impossible. ME TOO. And since reading that what, all of two days ago?, I’ve been feeling a little better about myself. So thank you!

  13. Eat the Damn Cake » My guest post at Get in the Hot Spot responded on 16 Jul 2010 at 10:37 am #

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  14. First Days | Miss Pi responded on 03 Sep 2011 at 6:47 pm #

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  15. I Grade Homework. | Miss Pi responded on 13 Sep 2011 at 7:06 am #

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  16. What I Know About Beauty Now That I’m in My 20s | Blog for Beauty responded on 28 Mar 2012 at 3:36 pm #

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  17. Kate Fridkis: What I Know About Beauty Now That I'm in My 20s | USA Press responded on 29 Mar 2012 at 7:26 am #

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