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Oh, spare me the false modesty of the humble braggers, says BEL MOONEY
Most of us have been guilty of it at some time or other. The dreaded, coy, dishonest, thoughtless humblebrag - the seemingly modest statement that ultimately highlights one’s own accomplishments, status or looks.
Just the other day, having lunch with an old friend, I said I wouldn't order fries because ‘I feel so fat after my holiday’. She said nothing - but looking back, I know what I deserved.
‘For heaven’s sake woman, shut up - you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a lovely foreign holiday, and besides, you’re a size 10, while I'm a size 14!’
Supermodel Cara Delevingne, 26, has previously said she hates her boyish figure, and wishes she was curvier. But take a look at her sauntering down the Victoria's Secret catwalk in 2013 and it's hard to see what she’s complaining about.
When you think of bingo wings, you tend to imagine a 60-something women who’s let herself go. What you don’t think of is Sienna Miller. Yet the 36-year-old actress claims she is ‘skinny-fat’
I certainly didn't intend to make her feel bad about her own waistline. And I had indeed overdone gorging on the famous Portugese custard tarts, so my new jeans felt uncomfortable.
But did I really need to use the ‘f’ word? Of course I didn’t.
The humblebragger may not mean to make other people feel inferior, but casual modesty ’can be as damaging as it is false. It may seem harmless, but it can have a serious effect on people with low self-esteem.
Think of it from their point of view. If she thinks she’s fat, what does that make me? If she’s a failure, what am I?
This inauthentic show of humility can be horribly destructive and make otherwise confident people turn a hyper-critical spotlight on themselves.
Even the Queen of Pop isn't free of insecurities. Beyonce, 37, admitted cruel classmates called her Dumbo at school due to her supposedly large ears. She says she wears big earrings now in an attempt to disguise them
Luckily, I'm not as bad as super-skinny Victoria Beckham. She announced this week that she can ‘no longer be bothered with’ trying to maintain a flat stomach. Being a busy, 44-year-old mother of four, she has other things to worry about.
She made the comments to Australian Vogue, and appeared on the cover with a stomach that showed not the slightest evidence of this seismic shift in attitude to her legendary strict diet and exercise regime.
Translate that throwaway comment and it says: ‘I have no spare fat, a brilliant, busy career and look much younger than 44 - so eat your heart out, folks.’
There are others. Plenty of them. Any normal woman would roll her eyes when someone as svelte as Samantha Cameron confesses she doesn’t like wearing jeans because she has such a big bottom and thighs. Excuse me, she doesn't. Mrs Cameron is slender and elegant and would make the cheapest pair of jeans look wonderful.
Who doesn’t dislike their cellulite? So when Rihanna, 30, bemoans her orange-peel thighs, she’s no different from millions of women the world over. No different, that is, apart from the fact that we're not entirely convinced her said cellulite even exists!
Why doesn’t she simply say she doesn’t wear jeans because she’d rather look smart in her own clothing range, or other expensive designer gear befitting of her status and budget? She probably thinks that might make her seem snooty.
Apparently Sienna Miller, 36, hates her ‘bingo wings.’ Does she really have flabby upper-arms? Just ask the average middle-aged woman who mourns the loss of her own slender, toned arms. . . but maybe wear earplugs to block out the expletives!
But if you analyze her moan you realize it's an affront that such a privileged star should use an unkind term associated with working women who raise their aging arms to shout ‘Bingo’.
The humblebragger may not realize she’s potentially hurting the feelings of the less fortunate - but she is. It seems actress Michelle Pfeiffer hates her face, saying she looks ‘like a duck’. Michelle, you are still absolutely gorgeous. And you must know it.
SamCam, 47, claims she doesn't like wearing jeans because she has such a large derriere, proving the old adage that one woman’s big bottom is another’s perfect peach
On the other hand, if her negativity is genuine - not so much a humblebrag as a genuine dislike of growing older - then how are ordinary women supposed to feel when we realize all the potions in the world will not keep wrinkles at bay, and we 're likely to look a lot worse than Michelle Pfeiffer at her very worst?
Another offender is Rihanna. Do you believe the fabulously wealthy superstar is genuinely afflicted by the cellulite she professes to worry about?
And actress Jennifer Lawrence complaining about armpit fat? Honestly, what woman wouldn't trade problems with her in an instant? As for supermodel Cara Delevingne wishing she were ‘curvier’, I don’t think anyone would suggest her figure has held her back.
Jennifer Lopez says she spent her 20s in a haze of insecurity about her curvy figure and legs because she wasn't ’skinny’. But thousands of women would give their own legs for the 49-year-old singer’s perfectly toned pins, which she regularly displays with her signature leg-popping pose - deployed for the full wow factor at this year’s Met gala
Men are just as guilty, but their humblebrags are more likely to be connected with status than appearance. So illusionist Derren Brown tweeted: ‘At a guest at Cirque Du Soleil launch, Albert Hall. Tried to sneak past red carpet but was made to go back and do it. I’m a rubbish celeb. ’
There is a real illusion - that the winner of two Laurence Olivier Awards wants to sneak in the back and not be seen.
Just as bad was the former footballer Michael Owen when he tweeted: ‘Somebody obviously told people I was there as a load of kids were waiting for my autograph afterwards! #embarrassing '
Oh poor mortals, you have no idea how dreadful it is to be recognized. Honestly, you wouldn't want to be in our handmade shoes!
Victoria Beckham recently told Australian Vogue that she can ‘no longer be bothered with’ trying to maintain a flat stomach. Yet after several decades of flaunting an enviably trim figure, it seems unlikely that the 44-year-old will suddenly embrace middle-age spread. We think she’ll look just as trim as she did at Eva Longoria’s Hollywood Walk of Fame event in April for a long time to come
Knowing he's not always up to date with these things, I asked my husband if he knows what humblebragging is.
He shook his head, faux-puzzled, and replied: ‘No, I don’t know what it means - even though I have a degree.’
That's a nicely subtle example. It reminds me that the intellectual humblebragger is almost the worst. Humblebrags about appearance make readers of those tweets hate their own, all-too-real cellulite, bingo wings, fat armpits and duck-faces.
Of all the things to claim to hate about your body, Hunger Games star Jennifer has surely chosen the most obscure. The 28-year-old says she despises her armpit fat (yes, that's right, armpit fat). But as her gorgeous array of red carpet looks - including the gold spaghetti strap number she wore to the Oscars in March - prove, Jen hasn't got anything to worry about
Humblebrags about status and success can make normal people realize what humdrum lives they lead.
There's a marvelous literary example of a humblebragger. Dickens created a monster in Uriah Heep, who boasts incessantly that he is ’umble’, when he is nothing of the sort.
When kind David Copperfield offers to teach a young Uriah Latin to help him in his career, Heep smarms: ‘Master Copperfield! I am greatly obliged, and I should like it of all things, I assure you; but I am far too ’umble.’
Like all humblebraggers Heep is lying. Far from being modest he is a dishonest, conniving, ambitious pain-in-the-neck with a massive sense of entitlement. Modern celebrity in a nutshell.
Megastar Michelle Pfeiffer apparently thinks she looks ‘like a duck’. That is, a duck with piercing blue eyes, a perfect bone structure and full cupid’s bow lips. Not to mention a duck that looks a full two decades younger than her 60 years!
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