Have you been watching the new Comedy Central show, “Inside Amy Schumer”? I haven’t, but after watching the sketch above, I’m adding it to my now-lean DVR queue. In the clip, Amy and a gaggle of pals (including “Saturday Night Live”‘s Abby Elliott) exchange compliments on everything from clothing items to job promotions to pregnancy news, but each is, uh, incapable of accepting the praise graciously. The sketch is hilarious because it absurdly illustrates something that is totally true — by and large, many women have a hard time accepting compliments without at least disparaging themselves in some way first.
This is a topic I’ve written about before. Back in 2010, I wrote about the tendency women have to both give compliments and avoid accepting compliments by insulting some aspect of ourselves. Speaking for myself, there have been many times when someone has complimented, say, my outfit or my work, and I’ve not only downplayed it, but shat all over it. “Oh god, this dress? It’s the only one I have that hides my burrito bloat!” “You liked that essay? I was worried it came out totally stupid!” Likewise, I’ve given many a compliment couched in some teardown of my own perceived faults, i.e. “You have the most perfect lips for wearing lipstick, not all thin and invisible like mine.” In the post, I wrote:
Women seem to have this knee-jerk reaction not just to compare themselves to other women, but to vocalize that feeling of ugliness alongside a compliment, as if being “prettier than” is the ultimate praise, the best feeling a woman can have. And it’s not. So let’s stop it.
And this sketch from “Inside Amy Schumer” seemed like an excellent excuse to check in! I have personally made many conscious steps towards NOT DOING THIS SHIT. For the most part, I now take a compliment graciously, often with a simple thank you. If I’m complimented on something I genuinely was unsure about, I’ll maybe mention that I was unsure, but in a more productive way, like, “Thank you! This dress is a little outside my usual comfort zone, but I feel good in it!” And when I give compliments? They are 100 percent about the person I’m complimenting, not my own stupid insecurities.
Are you with me?