Stop The Humblebrag: Why Women Need To Stop Justifying Every One Of Their Successes
It’s that friend who, despite raking in a six-figure lawyer’s salary, feels the need to justify her new Chloe designer handbag with an “it was my birthday and I was feeling bad for myself” explanation.
We didn’t say we wanted to know why you received such an expensive status-piece, all we did was compliment you on it. And yet, now we’re hearing all the self-deprecating reasons why you have it.
It’s that friend who thinks she’s making you feel bad by bragging about her upcoming vacation, so she tries to downplay it like, “well, I haven’t been away in years” (she went to Miami for four days last month) “and it’s to celebrate our two-year anniversary,” (he already gave her a bracelet) “which hasn’t been easy!” (they’re all over each other in public).
Why do some women always feel like they need to explain their successful lifestyles? And especially to their friends who aren’t as well-off, this comes across as insulting, not humbling.
Think about a classically hated celebrity, like Taylor Swift; we admonish her not because she isn’t one of us, but because she tries so hard to be even though her worldwide celeb-status dictates that she is far from it.
Perhaps if she stopped Instagramming so many "stars-they’re-just-like-us" type of pictures (see: Taylor bakes cakes! More than once! And even “casually hangs” with butterflies!) and stopped pretending she’s a regular girl who gets her heartbroken too (Harry Styles is a whole different level, Taylor and you know it!), perhaps then we wouldn’t think she’s a huge phony.
And that’s just it: When you’re too humble or you make up justifications for your good fortunes, others internalize it as fake and offensive.
It makes us question why do you feel the need to explain your actions to us? Because you think we’re not as fortunate as you? Because you think we’re angry at you for having such prosperity?
These women -- especially those in our inner circles -- need to recognize that we aren’t judging them. We aren’t counting their materialistic values. And we aren’t accusing them of wrongdoing when things are going right. We’re in a place where we can be happy for you and your earnings. No explanation necessary.
According to researchers at the University of Waterloo, it’s a kind of insecurity that chiefly affects women who more frequently perceive their actions as offensive.
They believe that talking about their successes is akin to showing off and, thus, irritating us. But to the rest of us, the fact that these women are even qualifying their behaviors is what we find irritating. It’s turning the humbling statement into the humble brag.
Whether it’s their high-paying job, flawlessly fit body or latest luxury item, sometimes more fortunate women (and men too!) try to downplay their value or their luck because they still want to fit in with their friends. In conjuring up excuses, however, it’s as if they are acknowledging how less-off we all are. That’s where the slap in the face comes.
It’s almost like the opposite of snapping a gratuitous selfie because they’re trying to pass off this achievement as something much less obvious and casual. It’s more like the gratuitous selfie with the caption that reads, “I’m on this vacation in a small unknown town in the South of France… but I promise I’m just like all of you.”
Women, girls, young professionals, friends: You don’t need to qualify, justify or explain your successes or the fruits of your labor.
Even if your boyfriend gifted you a new pair of Tom Ford sunglasses just because -- you still shouldn’t feel obligated to cheapen or downplay the act to your girlfriends with a lame reason as to why he bought it.
We’re on your side, we’re happy he’s treating you well and we’ll celebrate your good fortunes as if they were our own.
Photo Courtesy: Touchstone Pictures/Confessions of a Shopaholic