Is “you’re so confident!” a Backhanded Compliment?


“I really admire your confidence…”

“You are so confident girl, yassss!”

“Your confidence is really inspiring….”

These are all kind words. Words that some of you have written to me in emails and tweets, words that have kept me going on my “bad days”… most of the time when someone comments on my confidence, its genuine, positive and I love it. But today as we revisit our confidence is… complicated series, I want to talk about reading between the lines of a Confidence Compliment.

You see, most of us understand the beauty of loving ourselves at any and every size. We know it’s not an easy task, but we work on it and we lift others up as they do the same.

But… I’ve learned that some people look at Plus Size Princesses and just can’t understand how we get out of bed in the morning, let alone put on a cute outfit. They don’t understand how we walk out the door with flawless makeup and werk it on the dance floor. They watch in awe as we draw men (and women) in with our curves without even knowing it.

Because in their minds, if they were a big girl, they’d just die. If they were a big girl they’d either be at the gym working out, or they’d be in bed under the covers hiding. If they were a big girl, no amount of spanx would make them comfortable enough to wear anything other than baggy sweats. And going out to meet new people?? Forget it!

So when they look at us, living full unapologetic lives, consciously or subconsciously they can’t help but comment on it, often in the form of a Confidence Compliment.

I had a friend who regularly gave me Confidence Compliments while freaking out when she gained five pounds. After a while, I began to read between the lines and I figured out that when she said “CeCe you’re so confident” she was really saying “CeCe, if I was as big as you I wouldn’t know WHAT to do”.

Nope, she wouldn’t… and that’s okay!

*hair flip*

Have you ever watched interviews with people who have gone through intense tragedy and the reporter tells them “you’re so brave!” its kind of the same thing. Some people admire the confidence we have to show our faces through the tragedy of being overweight.

But here’s the thing– usually when those reporters call survivors brave, they downplay the situation and remind everyone that they’re just living life with the cards they were dealt. That’s how I feel about being a Plus Size Princess.

Waking up, getting dressed in clothes I love and walking out the door without hating myself isn’t “Confidence”. For me its being a normal person.

Then again, maybe it’s not normal. Maybe those backhanded compliments are really saying “I don’t love myself and I’m smaller than you… how do you manage to be a big girl and love yourself ?”

Loving ourselves at any/every size should not be an oddity. Embracing our bodies while putting our best foot forward is something we should all be empowered to do.

Weight is not the definition of who we are.

I want my life to be defined by the love I give… and the first person I’m going to show love to, is me!



P.S. NYC girls, come shop my closet this Wednesday at the #NYCurvyCloset sale (Size 10-28, Everything under $50)

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  • Tess_m

    Absolutely love this post!! So timely and true, I get this all the time from people and it makes me laugh, it’s funny how threatened people are by big girls who are happy, love fashion and themselves!!

  • vanessa jackson

    I often wonder if it’s because we are a threat to them because secretly they don’t have it and wonder what makes us have it at “our size”. Low self esteem is something all sizes deal with and it’s typically expected from a PSP! Who knew…a PSP can be confident — how dare she make me feel minute!!! That’s when they feel I must tear her down, break her spirit, call her fat, ugly, or slide in a remark like you’re so confident. Otherwise how can he/she feel better about themselves? But honey child a PSP diva can care less…Hey all i can say is do you, love you, dress you up, and feel yourself completely, because nothing is as sexy as walking in the confidence of how bad you truly are!

  • JayFay

    I love seeing women checking out something I’m wearing — whether it’s just shoes, or a cute dress, or top, or whatever — and watching the expression on their faces. I do think it takes confidence to, well, love and accept yourself, no matter what your size. Women are notoriously insecure at every size. One of my college roommates was your typical perfect 5’8, size 4 dirty-blonde and she routinely tried on outfits and asked me, “does this make me look fat?” It was hard not to roll my eyes.

    So the confidence compliment may be somewhat backhanded but intelligent women won’t take it as such :)

    • Florence

      So, when a backhanded compliment is given and one recognizes it as such, we are not intelligent?

  • Kayleigh

    You know what I admire about you? How profound you are! This was soooo well written and just struck the perfect, diplomatic balance. Oh, and I do also admire your confidence, but not in any way “despite” your size. So many women of every size lack basic confidence in their appearance. How sad is that? We should all feel good about ourselves because we are all uniquely beautiful. So in this day and age when a woman has that inner belief and celebrates it, it IS admirable :)

  • Comet

    New here but—Love this! I am handicapped and I get the “You are soooooo brave” crap ALLLL the time…and yes I HATE it. I am not brave. I didn’t throw myself on a grenade to save my buddies. I lost a leg. and part of a foot. And yes I get up every morning happy I am still alive. But–brave? No., My husband is a retired firefighter. Now THAT’S a brave profession!

    I get this a LOT when I am on our motorcycle. Because she is a big girl–one of the actual NAMES for this bike is–the Fat Lady!!!!—good thing I knew that the one time some guy asked if she was that model huh???—and I am very short–and I can’t twist at the knee anymore–I use a step stool to get ON. And a walker when I get OFF. You should SEE peoples faces when we pull the bike into a HANDICAPPED space! My husband will tend to saunter around doing completely UN needed things to delay getting the handicapped tag out and clipping it on the windscreen if he sees this reaction happening. And unloading the walker from the back. I . must say I DO like riding because in some ways when I am ON the bike–you don’t know I am handicapped. I am not using a walker or a wheelie cart. Just–being me.

    However–when people see me get on or off they do tend to say things. Many of which are very nice. Some of which are–not exactly. And some of which are legit asking me where I got the particular walker I use as it is not like most of them out there. And also telling me that this gave them inspiration for “So and so” to RIDE again after—fill in the blank. Accident. Illness. Injury. And they could not get ON. But if you use that $10 Wally World plastic step stool and stow it on the trunk bag–et voila! Riding high! Or even to get in and out of a high truck or van–I cannot believe so many people have not thought of this but—–I might not have thought of it either had I not had these issues.

    And then–there are the people who tell me they are PRAYING for me. While this can be very sincere–sometimes it is just–creepy. WE had a minor accident and I was in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD ON THE GROUND and some other biker–other BILER!!!!–came by and his B— on the back yelled that she would “Pray for you baby”–Um–aside from the fact that I am NOT your baby—-weird. And–they drove OFF!

    My husband couldn’t get over that. And he said–Gee if her prayers were soooo effective why were you not LIFTED up off the ground??? LOL. I said–what if all these random peoples prayers ARE why I am still here!!!!! Imagine THAT possibility! Where would I be if they were NOT praying! The sincere ones anyways!

  • Eva Noller

    I’m a big girl, and not everyone agrees with my choice in outfit all the time. But the bottom line is no matter how much we try to flatter our curves, it isn’t going to automatically make us thin or people not realise that you’re fat. and even if an outfit is maybe a bit ‘out there’ or unusual or simply just doesn’t hide the fact I am fat I find that people compliment me more – because it’s more about how you present yourself, how comfortable you feel in what you’re wearing and thus how you carry off the outfit with confidence.
    Someone says you’re brave for what you’re wearing?
    I think the best thing to do is when someone pays you a complement even if it sounds backhanded (I could never, but you look great) is to accept it, say thanks and be confident in how you look (I know, easier said than done). The thing is – yes, you look great, and even if someone else thinks it wouldn’t be for them, who cares as long as you feel good. I often see people where I think ‘wow you really carry that off well’ and will tell them so even if I would never bee seen dead in the same outfit – because it would make me feel uncomfortable or I would simply not feel myself. But why can’t we appreciate different things without becoming suspicious about each other? I give compliments when I think someone looks amazing, and getting compliments is a fabulous thing. And if someone says ‘I admire your confidence’, then show that confidence by saying’ yes, I am, and I look great – thank you’ – because any backhandedness is a lack of confidence on their side, and if someone thinner doesn’t understand why you feel good about yourself being a fat girl, all the more reason to meet them head-on with confidence :-)

  • Ivy LaArtista

    Oh how I LOVE this! I have felt the sting of backhanded compliments before. What I realize is that sometimes people know what they are doing and sometimes it’s just pure ignorance on their part. They lack education about body/fat shaming and they don’t realize that they are a part of the problem. By saying “girl you are so CONFIDENT” they are actually telling you that they are surprised at your confidence. I hear it, I get it, and I just keep it moving. Because I understand the difference between those who tell me that I’m beautiful (meaning they see beauty in the essence of me as a whole person) and those who are shocked that I exude any sort of confidence, sexuality, or attractiveness as a “big girl”. If being confident is a surprise for a big girl to have, then I will just keep on shocking the hell out of them!

  • sera

    No issues what everybody comment on you whether its good or bad but you have be confidence in you if you have this then you are in………..

  • Atmikha

    Hi CeCe, –LOVE your site!
    Found it yesterday, and have been thinking about your confidence post all day. First of all, we are about the same size, although I think you are taller than I, and second of all, in some of these pictures you look really, really top shelf. I get what you are saying about the back-handed compliment thing, but I bet the compliment was sincere, and not at all mean spirited.
    This whole discussion reminded me of a big, formal party I went to once with my husband. It was for the diocese of Tucson, and kind of a work thing. Not only did I not know one single person there, but we had to drive 4 hours to get there. So, 4 hours all dressed up. Anyway, for some reason that day I was not feeling the magic, and luckily had my outfit totally planned, since the more I dressed and fussed the more I felt like a big pile of sweaty pudge. However, lo and behold, as I wandered around this big, huge, affair, I noticed a lot of the gentlemen in their suits and ties were checking me out. OK, granted about 98% of the attendees were in their 50’s or older, but I looked around and noticed I WAS THE BEST LOOKING WOMAN IN THE ROOM.
    Sometimes presence, elegance, good taste, good skin, a kind face and a bright smile can take the gold. Not saying they all wanted me to bear their children, but I was turning heads, despite my extra poundage, split ends, whatever.
    I think you do have confidence, and it is enviable, and it is not in spite of your weight, but maybe because of it. Like you said, you can’t help but be noticed, so you might as well make it work for you. That is confidence, and it is kind of rare. So, I salute you. You probably inspired your friend, and you inspire me to put that effort in.
    Furthermore, a lot of guys are full of c***. They think they want girls who look like models, but their hearts want big, soft girls who they can grab with both hands.

  • Denise Ages of Beauty

    I’m new to your blog but I LOVE this post! What you are saying is sooo true!

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