Real talk: why are women self-deprecating?

I’m writing this on a train journey to London for a girls weekend as I listen to Destiny’s Child on my headphones – it’s truly beautiful. Beyoncé knows the score. Without question I’d call myself an “independent woman” and throw my hands up at ya Bey…
…I’m confident, happy in my own skin, don’t ‘settle’ for anything less and don’t need a man by my side to feel complete. And the girls around me are exactly the same. One of my friends said the best thing the other day: “take yourself out on a date cus you’re the best looking person you know’ and I literally love that – you’ve gotta depend on yourself and be responsible for your own happinesses. 


I know I’m just as capable as the next person if I truly put my mind to it, but that being said, I often find myself putting myself down in front of other people without even realising I’m doing it. I don’t know why I have the tendancy to be self-deprecating when I don’t know many men around me who are like that. 

Now I’m not talking about the whole “oh but I look gross” in the hope of being flooded with hundreds of compliments. What I mean is when you subconsciously act in a certain way because you don’t want other people to think you’re, erm, up your own arse to put it bluntly.

The other day, someone gave me a compliment that my hair looked good tied back. Instead of a simple “thanks” I said “oh really, it’s greasy! I look like I’m about 15 about to do P.E” – that sounds so ridiculous written down, why on earth did I not just say thank you? Even in emails I find myself over-using words like “sorry”, “just” and “I think” which only work to lessen what I’m saying, making it sound that I’m unsure of myself by qualifying anything I’m saying with these little – but damaging – words.

It’s no surprise we act this way. When we’re assertive with others, we’re called “bossy” while men are strong-minded. We’re told we’re “emotional” with a rolling of the eyes when we’re just displaying human emotions (which is gender-neutral the last time I checked). These negative words are only used against women, dimishing our voice and the validity of what we’re saying. 

So why do we make it worse by saying negative things about ourselves? As women, it’s fun to laugh at ourselves amongst each other. It allows us to take ourselves less seriously – if a friend says something bad about themselves, we refute it and say something bad about ourselves too and they feel better. It’s not seen as negative it’s humourous and we all have a right laugh about it, whether it’s sharing how bad we are with money, how shit our self-control is or how embarrassing we are on first dates etc. – it’s cathartic and is a beautiful sense of release knowing someone relates to you.

Is it good to laugh at ourselves by being negative or are we our own worst enemies? According to an article in Psychology Today women do this not because of low confidence or low self-esteem, but in fact it’s on purpose: Women put themselves down in order to protect themselves from envy and jealousy. And they deploy this behavior strategically.” We dont want to be considered a threat, competition or disliked so use self-deprecating humour to put ourselves on a level playing field. But when this crosses into belittling or undervaluing ourselves there’s a problem.

If we say negative things enough, we’ll start to believe the negative talk and our own mind will limit us. The solution? Be strong. Talk with conviction. Be kind to yourself. Retrain your mind to break negative thoughts. Remove limits you put on yourself. Get rid of “can’t” from your vocabulary and BELIEVE in yourself. And most importantly support your worldwide girl gang! But don’t forget to have a laugh at yourself, it’s funny.

One thought on “Real talk: why are women self-deprecating?

  1. This is so true, it really struck a chord with me. I’m exactly the same. It’s so hard to NOT be self-deprecating. You’re a sassy babe, don’t ever feel like you’re not! Xx


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